May 6, 2015

How to Have a #1 Hit in Children's Ministry

There's something smash hit singles have in common.  While some musicians spend their entire career trying to come up with catchy songs that people will love, it appears the secret to creating a hit single is actually simple. 
  
Here it is.  Use repetition.

Joseph Nunes, a professor at USC, and his team analyzed 55 years of the Billboard's Hot 100 singles. They looked at the lyrics of more than 1,000 songs which reached #1 on the chart.  Regardless of the tune, tempo or artist, the #1 singles repeated the same words up to a fifth more than songs that were not big hits. 

Professor Nunes said,  "We expect songs that are lyrically more repetitive, for instance by repeating the chorus more often, and thus more fluent, to be generally preferred and adopted more quickly and broadly in the marketplace.  Repeated lyrical phrases are often accompanied by the same melody and rhythm."

Why are people drawn to songs that use repetition?  The research shows that repeating a phrase makes it easier to understand quickly, requiring little input from the listener.  It's also easier to process thus making the process more enjoyable.

Professor Nunes went on to say, "One benefit derived from having encountered a stimulus previously, or repetitive priming, is an ease of processing.  An ancillary benefit resulting from processing fluency, notably for aesthetic goods, is that the experience is typically more pleasant.  It would be reasonable to expect repetitive messages to spread faster, as they would be expected to be easier to process and therefore more fluent.  These results may also have strategic implications for marketers, especially when it comes to advertising text and product jingles."

Two recent hit singles that use repetition are Shake It Off by Taylor Swift and All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor.  

Do you want to kids to connect with your lessons and remember what you teach them?  One of the big keys is repetition.  Instead of trying to teach 5 things in a lesson....teach 1 thing and have kids repeat it several times over the course of the lesson.  

Studies show that if you hear something 1 time, your retention rate is 10% or less.  But if you hear something 6 times or more, your retention rate goes up to 90%.

Bottom line....broken records become hit songs.  If you want to create lessons that are hits with kids...use repetition. 

You can read here about how the most engaging children's show ever used this technique. 

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