Kids Singing Alone but Together

Princeton United Methodist Church

Tom Shelton Director of PUMC Children's and Youth ChoirsThanks to the video conferencing program Zoom and the efforts of church staff, children and youth can participate in church life through Sunday School, Confirmation Class, Youth Fellowship – and even the children’s choir meets online with Tom Shelton, children’s and youth choir director.


For instance, at the 30-minute practice on April 1, Tom  opened with fun vocal warmups, giving everyone a chance to demonstrate. With a short video, he reviewed what Palm Sunday means and connected it to Sunday’s worship. Children learned the “Hosanna” opening hymn to get ready to wave palms from their homes on Sunday.

Sometimes the children saw only Tom, sometimes they saw and heard one person singing a solo, sometimes their faces were spread out in a grid. “It does my heart good,” says Tom, when I look at all of their faces, and they are sitting up tall in their chairs at home and actually singing!

Connection is the most important part, Tom says. “These are troubling times. It’s nice to have some sense of normalcy or ‘routine’ when everything they are used to is ‘up in the air.’ They LOVE being together!”]

It is takes three times longer to plan a virtual class, practicing how to move from warm up exercises to showing a score. Mostly the singer’s screens are muted, but they unmute themselves to respond. “I love how much they want to be a leader and sing an example,” says Tom. “I have to be very conscious that It’s not ‘just singing,’ but that I’m stretching them musically, by asking questions and having them explain the answers or type the answer in the “chat” message box.

On April 15 the singers will enjoy a treat. They will reprise the musical from February in a virtual “sing along!”

Says Tom: “One positive thing – I’m growing a lot by doing this! I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! “


Loving Music at an Early Age: PUMC’s Choirs

The beauty of Christian music comes alive when children and youth feel what the lyrics say, says Tom Shelton, PUMC’s director of children’s and youth choirs and a sacred music professor at Westminster Choir College.

Encourage families you know to bring their children to choir practice! Choristers learn good singing techniques and music theory; they participate in worship monthly, present a musical, and sing at special services throughout the year.

Open houses for parents and children will be Wednesday, September 18 at 4:30 p.m. (kindergarten and first grade) and the same day at 5:30 p.m. for second through fifth grade.

The first rehearsal for youth (grades 6-12) is Sunday, September 15, 5 p.m. Tom teaches the youngest children, ages three and four, during their Sunday School class.

There is no charge to be in a choir, and singers do not need to be church members.I want young singers to love music their whole life, not just for the time they are with me,” says Tom.


Encourage families to sing with us!

The beauty of Christian music comes alive when children and youth feel what the lyrics say, according to Tom Shelton, PUMC’s director of children’s and youth choirs. Choir members learn good singing techniques and music theory (video link here); they participate in worship monthly, present a musical in the spring, and sing at special services throughout the year (video link here). “I want young singers to love music their whole life, not just for the time they are with me,” says Tom.

Encourage families you know to bring their children to PUMC’s choir. What they learn is invaluable. They enter wide-eyed and curious and leave as musical and global citizens. Invite newcomers to the first rehearsal on Wednesday, September 12, at 4:30 p.m. (kindergarten and first grade) and on Wednesday, September 12, at 5:30 p.m. (second through fifth grade). The first rehearsal for youth (grades 6-12) is Sunday, September 9, 5 p.m. Tom teaches the youngest children, ages three and four, during their Sunday School class.

There is no charge to be in a choir, and singers do not need to be church members.
Look for cards in the Sanford Davis Room, forward this blog post “15 reasons why your child should join PUMC’s choirs” , forward a video link showing how kids learn. or here is a link of the choirs singing Hosanna. 

Or encourage those interested to email

Singing Joy and Ringing Faith


Today, to illustrate “giving thanks” for 9:30 service at Children’s Time,  Tom Shelton presented five of the youngest choristers singing folk favorites like  “Kumbayah,” “I’ve Got the Joy in My Heart” and “This Little Light.” It was such a blessing to hear them. Here is the video — see and hear for yourself!

This choir rehearses on Wednesdays at 4:30 and is open to all at no cost. It will join the older children to sing at the 9:30 service on December 4 and to present “Twas the Light Before Christmas,” an Advent musical, on Sunday, December 11, at 5 p.m.

Even the very youngest children, the three-and-four-year-olds, can enjoy singing. Shelton visits their class on some Sunday mornings.

Duo Grazioso: Hyosang Park, left, solo handbell artist, with pianist Akiko Hosaki

At both the 9:30 and 11 a.m. services, the congregation was blessed by hearing the handbell choir play two spirituals. Enjoy video,  taken from the balcony. Hyosang Park directs the ringers in arrangements by B,  Ingram of “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “Swing Low.”

The next opportunity to hear handbells ring will be Sunday, December 4, at 5 p.m., when Park directs the Handbell Choir and the Handbell Ensemble. As a special delight, Park will play solo handbells, along with Akiko Hosaki, as part of Duo Grazioso.

It was a joyful time of giving thanks.

Confidence – Creativity – Collaboration: Choirs at PUMC



lorie photoParents—PUMC members and non-members–don’t let another year go by without signing  yourr child up for PUMC’s Children’s Choir. Music education is one of the most important developmental programs we offer children and we don’t want you to miss out on this opportunity.

Under the direction of Tom Shelton, Professor of Sacred Music, Westminster Choir College, PUMC’s Children’s Choir offers invaluable musical training. Mr. Shelton is an accomplished choral director, with a long history of conducting children’s choirs in the public schools and directing honors choirs in choral festivals across the country and internationally. He is also very active with choral associations, serving as President elect of the American Choral Directors Association, and selected by the US Choristers Society to teach a webinar on How to Teach Songs to Children’s Choirs, on August 18th. PUMC is very lucky to have a children’s choral director of his caliber.

Under Mr. Shelton’s superb guidance our program develops the highest standards of children’s choral singing. Moreover, it is fun. He makes it fun. The children have a wonderful time singing and performing together and even acting. Part of the musical training at PUMC is musical theatre –a unique element of our program.

It isn’t all just fun and games, however. The children are developing critical life skills through this musical training that will carry them far in life.

In 2008, the President’s  Committee on the Arts and Humanities (PCAH) released the findings from a landmark study on arts education (Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future) that “clearly showed the effect of arts education on student academic achievement and creativity.” The report went on to say that “It also became clear that arts education provides a critical benefit to the private sector. To effectively compete in the global economy, business leaders are increasingly looking for employees who are creative, collaborative and innovative thinkers. A greater investment in the arts is an effective way to equip today’s students with the skills they will need to succeed in the jobs of tomorrow.”

SpreadMusicNow Foundation, a private foundation that raises funds for the arts, has developed a memorable moniker for the key benefits of music education: “Confidence. Creativity. Collaboration.” They go on to say that these are just some of the things that improve when a child participates in structured, rigorous music education.”

So, Parents, please don’t miss out on this opportunity to sign your child up for PUMC’s Children’s Choir and give them the gift of music education.

Contact Tom Shelton directly at to learn more about this program.

by Lindsay Diehl

Advent Night: ‘Joy to the World’

Be sure to join us for our annual Advent Night celebration on Sunday, December 6th from 4 to 7 p.m. It will be a joy filled evening as we begin our preparation
for the arrival of the Christ Child. We will begin with our Christmas Pageant at 4:00 PM, titled Joy to the World, where we will hear and see the Christmas Story as told by our Sunday School and Children’s Choir. Tom Shelton has been hard at work rehearsing with our elementary school choirs and Sunday School children. It will be a wonderful way to kick off the Advent Season.

Following the pageant, join us for a time of dinner and crafts. From 5:15 – 6:25 there will be 5 craft stations set up for crafters of all ages. Kids, make a secret craft for your parents with help from our confirmation class. Everyone is welcome to decorate a gingerbread
cookie as well! Need a break from crafting? Come on downstairs to the Fellowship Hall for a good old fashioned potluck dinner. Don’t forget to bring something to share!

Be sure you are finished with your craft by 6:30 because we will conclude the evening with carol singing and dessert led by Karen Zumbrunn. Bring your favorite dessert to share.

We hope you will join us for this joy-filled evening. See you on the 6th!