Read John Friend’s response:
Chanting is a powerful spiritual practice and can help positively shift the energetic pattern of the practitioner’s mind and heart in an extraordinarily effective way. However, many students feel uncomfortable chanting Sanskrit devotional songs. Some students are unfamiliar with the foreign words. Also, chants often have a religious connotation in students’ minds, which makes them uncomfortable. They may fear that they may be participating in religious practices that contradict their own. Finally, many people are embarrassed about their singing ability.
In order to help make your students more comfortable with chanting, I suggest the following:
- Always set a context for the chant that the students can relate to. Define the words and describe the meaning of the chant in understandable terms. Explain importance of chanting in class, and why it is considered a powerful spiritual practice. Clarify that chanting is not a specific religious practice, and yet its effects can be supportive of the essence of one’s personal religious allegiance.
- Choose easy chants for beginning students. The words should not be difficult to pronounce, and the melody should be simple.
- Lead the group yourself with a strong voice and/or musical accompaniment.
- Emphasize the importance of listening while chanting. By increasing sensitivity to the sounds of the others in the class, the students will create more harmony in the chant. Also, with the focus on listening, the students will tend to relax more with their own chanting.