This article talks about how singing can be taught just like spelling and math can be taught…you don’t ‘have’ to have a talent for it. It discusses different reasons that children might need help with their singing, such as lack of experience / exposure, lack of confidence, physiological reasons such as auditory processing difficulties, hearing impairment or some other physical problems.
The main techniques discussed in the article are posture, breathing, warm-ups, and vocal exploration. One thing I learned from this article is that often ‘untrained’ adults want to use a pitch that is more comfortable for them rather than what is appropriate for the students. I experienced this desire myself while student teaching in a kindergarten class in January 2007. I was teaching an Animated Alphabet lesson. The recorded version of the song the children were to learn/ sing was so high, I could not sing with it. I sang it for them first (so we could go over the hand motions they were learning), then I played it for them doing the hand motions. That way they had a choice, since I could NOT sing along with the CD.
Another consideration I never really thought about was the importance of hydration to vocal music. I know for a fact my kindergarteners went straight to music from gym class. I have no idea if they were given ample opportunity to drink water before trying to sing. It is something I will now think about when I am a classroom teacher.
I really liked the part about vocal exploration where it was talking about using stories with repetitive lines such as “The Gingerbread Boy,” or “The Little Red Hen” to work on modulation of pitch, volume, speed, etc. of voice. Also, the author talks about using “cat conversations” to help learn about the different inflections based on whether making a statement or asking a question. This is a ‘pretend conversation’ where you and the children meow and you discuss whether a ‘statement’ is made or a ‘question’ is asked. How do you know the difference, when there are no words like, ‘who,’ ‘what,’ when,’ ‘how,’ etc.? This would be a great thing for a mini-lesson in a language arts class.
To me, the most important point of this article is that children learn to sing by singing (practice-practice-practice). This is true in many areas of education. To build a concept, you need to practice. As it says in the article, “The more opportunity children have to sing, the better they will sing. The better they sing, the more they will enjoy singing and music-making of many kinds. This can result in richer and more emotionally satisfying experiences throughout their lives.”