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Nature of the Child Voic'e

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The young singing voice that is fully functioning normally makes


~ use of three registers: low (chest), middle, and high (head) .I!1e
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If'' lowest register is commonly used for speaking and is the register
\ ; ~lf/ that many children use for singing;. Younger children have a limited
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range in this register (usually A 3 to C 4 [C4 represents middle C]),
while older children and adults can use this register for a much larger
range (some to C 5). Use of this register to sing much above C 4 can
be damaging to the voice and should be discouraged. T11e middle
register has a lighter quality and should be used to sing in the range
of C 4 to C 5. Use of the upper register allows free and heallhy singing
to occur. In this register, children can sing very high. Often when
children (especially upper elementary girls) say they cannot sing
high, it is because they are not usi:ng the upper register.
The changes that occur in both the male and female adolescent
voice present a real challenge to the general music teacher, especially
if these students did not gain use of all three registers of their
singing voice in the elementary school. TI1e female, beginning in
approximately grade 3 or 4, can extend the lower register up to C 5 or
D 5 . These girls, despite their moans and groans, must be encouraged
. \;-,0- VI P 1 r. to usTa li ht head voice for all their singing. TI1is voice will not be
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strong and these students mus no e as e to sing loudly. The boys
who seem to experience the most difficulty during voice change are
those who have not learned to use all three registers of the voice
prior to adolescence. In fact, it is easy to mistake a boy's inability to
use the middle and upper registers of his voice for the onset of voice
change.
All children can be taught to use all three registers tmless they
have a physical impairment, a rare occurrence. Because the lower
register is used for speaking it is the most easily accessible.
'The upper register is the one that most have difficulty learning to
use. Overuse of the low register, particularly to sing in a higher
range, can be damaging to the voice and must be discouraged. ln
addition, teachers are cautioned not to assess a child's music potential

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based on his b her singing performance. Some children are thought


to be inaccurat singers because they sing only in the low register.
TI1ese children are musically inhibited because they do not know
how to access t 1eir other vocal registers. Consequently, .music teachers
should help ch ldren learn to use all three registers, providing them
with the most 1 usical options.

Assessing the Singing Voice

To assist children in acquiring full use of the singing voice, teachers


need to continuously assess their students. Most of the suggestions
presented here for helping students develop their singing voices are
also useful for assessment. A variety of terms have been used to
describe the child voice. A current trend is for. the teacher to assess
the use each child has of his or her voice first . The categories below,
developed by Rutkowski, are helpful for this purpose. Next, the
accuracy with which the Initial Range Singer and the Singer use
their voices should be assessed using the categories developed by
Junda and Young:

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Often referred to as a non-singe1~ this child, when asked to sing,
chants the words to a song instead.
Speaking Range Singer:
This child sings, but in his or her speaking voice (low) register.
This register is from about A 3 to C 4 for young children but begins to
expand upwards in pitch as the child enters the middle and upper
elementary school grades.
Limited Range Singer:
This stage is exhibited by some children in the primary grades.
The middle register (a lighter quality voice) is used when singing,
but the range of this voice is very narrow, usually D 3 to F# 4. Some
middle and upper elementary school children will exhibit this
register, but many will sing in th:is range with their speaking (low)
register.
Initial Range Singer:
This child uses the middle register ana sings with a range from D 4
to A 4, often referred to as initial song range. A register lift in the
voice occurs from A 4 to B4-flat (from middle to high register). These
students do not access the upper register yet. The teacher should

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li' ten carefully lm the q ua;ity of voice

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singing in the i
, song range. Upper elementary students can
access this rang with their speaking (low) register.

Children who do not sing with enough energy to make the kazoos
work will often be successful with " toot toot!" Pass the kazoos out,
one to each child. Instruct them to put the large end in their mouth;
do not put hand over the top of the kazoo. You sing a tonal pattern
(for example, sol-mi-la-sol-mi or sol-mi-do); students echo the pattern
with the kazoo. Children having difficulty will probably say they
have a broken kazoo. If no one makes this claim, ask if any are broken.
Check the waxed paper to be sure that it is intact. Then have the
students echo more paltems. Those children who cannot imitate the
patterns with the kazoo are most likely Pre-singers or Speaking
Range Singers.

Singer:
This child do~s lift the voice above the register lift and uses the
upper (head) red-ister.
Each of the a ove categories refers to the physical use a child has
of the voice. Wit in each of U1e categories, except Pre-singer, children
may be singing ut of tune, or they may be singing in tune when
song material fit their range. The ability to sing in tune really cannot be assessed mtil the Initial Range Singer or Singer stages are
achieved. Once child reaches those levels, the following categories,
developed by J da and Young, may be used to assess the accuracy
wilh which he o she is using lhe singing voice:

* * *
It is also possible to assess students while they are singing in a large
group. Simply walkaround the room and focus your listening on
" individual students as you walk by them.

Out of T!.me Sing r :


This child do s not follow the direction of the melody.

* * *

Directional Singe:
This child sin

Be sure the material the children are singing for your assessment is
very familiar and that the task allows you to focus on singing. For
example, do not assess children's singing while doing an action
song, circle game, or other eurhythmic activity.

the direction of the tones but with incorrect intervals.

Transposing Sing r:
This child sin s correct intervals but starts on the wrong pitch.

Pattern Singer:

This child sin~s short patterns correctly (bitonic and trltonic


melodies).

* * *

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Accurate Singer:

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This child sin~s varied melodies of steps and skips with accuracy.

Occasionally, have the children use a neutral syllable rather than


song text. This is a~1 easier task for some children.

* * *

* * *
Be sure children have opportunities to sing alone and in small.
groups as well as in large groups. Some students do belter in one
situation over the others.

Assessment of ~he singing voice requires focused listening. If you


(the teacher) are ingin.g with the sludents, you cannot accurately hear
and assess their erformance. Therefore, you should not sing with
the students.

* * *

* * *
l(azoos can helt identify a pre-sin.ger or speaking range singer. If a
child is not able .o sustain tones or uses only a low register, he or she
most likely will 1ot be able to produce a sound on the kazoo.

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When assessing singing, have students echo the teacher, ()r another
child, usin
son s. When students sing a
"'S""n"g, the singing they exhibit may be a reflection of their familiarity
with the song rather than a true .picture of their use of singing voice.

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Children tend t drop into their speaking (low) register when unfamiliar with the naterial they are asked to sing.
When possib e, allow students to verbalize how they could
improve before ou provide them with critique. This will give you
insight into the ' r understanding, and it will give students confidence
in their abilities to improve.

Providing Models and


f'eedback to Students
The vocal models that teachers p rovide and the types of feedback
given to students about their Sin)~i:ng are important components in
helping students learn to sing. The following suggestions offer guidcu1ceforteacl1ers.
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* * *
Listen for heallhy voices. Consistent hoarseness, constant throa:J-clearing, and so forth are signs of physical problems and should be
called to the att ntion of the school health worker immediately.

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* * *

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Be sure to say something positive, but truthful, about the student's


singing after each attempt-even if it is just that11e or she remembered the words. Next, provide a helpful suggestion followed by a
teacher model of what is to be done. Then give the student an
opportunity to try again.

* * *

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Make sure the students understand what a correct response


sounds like-be certain to model the register you are expecting the
students to use. If students give <m incorrect response, model their ,
incorrect response followed by the correct response. Then give vernal ~ct VlSualfeectback, comparing then response to the model and
accompanying pitch corrections with physical movement.

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* * *
You (the teacher) should model appropriate breathing and posture,
sing softly cu1d without excessive vibrato, and sing in an appropriate
register for the pitch of the model.

* * *
Make available good recorded models of students singing. Be sure
that parents and classroom teachers hear those models, too .

* * *
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Be wary of the terms "high" and "low." Students often confuse


h~se with "loud" cu1d " soft." Provide il vocal model o the response
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you want from tl~ - _.:udents rather than using these terms.

* * *

""bcho singing with the teacher as a mod_el is

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Male teachers s 1ould talk and sing in a light vo~ce_ F~ls_etto singing
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should be used a a model for those students havmg d1ffrculty
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placing their voi es in an appropriate register but should otherwise
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be avoided. Stud nts who are comfortable using all registers of their
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voices will usual y not have a problem singing in the appropriate
register with am le model an octave lower. A light (high, soft
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palate), well-sup orted tone is most desirable.
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v~ry useful, ~ut pe~r

modeling is even better. Once you have rdentrhed good smgers m


the class, have them echo you, and then have the problem singers
cho their peers.

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Make sure students use lots of air when they sing, which takes a
lot of energy. Failing to do this results in vocal production based in
the throat . . _ N,} ' S\I..U.,. V>l\r. 0.,\- .fl-k-\-- wcvvv,7

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* * *
Students like to sing loudly. Usually, they cannot do so and remain
in their middle or upper registers. Pay particular attention to this
and do not ask them to sing loudly. Use phrases such as "sing with
' more energy" and "let the sound grow." Also, briefly discuss the
voice with these students. Let them know about their upper registers
and how it is healthier for the voice when they use that register to
sing.

Otten, when m les find it necessary to provide a falsetto model for


those students h ving difficulty, the students laugh at this sound.
An appropriate sponse might be, "When I sing in your singing
voice I sound fu y because that is not my natural singing
voice-when yo 1 try to sing in mine you also sound funny because
that is not your r atural singing voice."

* * *
To achieve an o en, raised-soft palate sound, try these suggestions.
Ask the stu ents to sing in their "most beautiful voices" as you
speak in y ur most lyrical voice. In trying to imitate your tone
as well as tying to sing beautifully, students will generally use
their singir g voices.
Ask stude ts to sing with the inside smile-"because you do
not want tl e teacher to know that you are smiling on the outside!" 11-lis will help raise the soft palate.
Have the children pretend that they have a pear on the inside
of their mo tths with the stem between the teeth.
Tell the stu ents that when they sing, feel as if they are yawning.
Arch the r of of the mouU1.
Tell Uw stu ents to "use a light voice," especially if they are
singing in peaking voice or having difficulty accessin,g the
middle an high registers. Then provide a model of that voice

* * *
Give singers feedback that describes what they have done. Let
your tone of voice communicate your pleasure, interest, or concern
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with the singers' output. The more specific, descriptive information
{.:,./ the singers are given, the more consciously aware they will become
~.elJ!?P..c about precision, diction, intonation, and body alignment-whatever

you can hear and observe. Rather than knowing only that it was
"right" or that you were pleased, singers will develop vocabulary
and will learn to listen to their own voice more critically.

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* * *

etting Ready to Sing


sture and Breathing)

It you sit like this twisted pretzel, how will you sound? If you sit
like this straight pretzel, how will. you sound?
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Be sure the students are aware that more air is required when
singing than when speaking, and they need to get their air a little
1ower than when talking. Shouldt~rs must stay relaxed and down
when breathing.

Students need prepare for singing, as for any other activity. The
following sugge tions are recommended for development of correct
posture and bre thing.

* * *

Insist on good ~sture: sit or stand tall; feet on the floor; hands
away from face. e careful not to use standing as a punishment such
as, "If you don t sing out, you'll have to stand." Standing while
singing should e encouraged as an appropriate behavior, not as
something to be avoided.

* * *
Puppets, you, d your students can all help to demonstrate good
and bad postur For example, "Can this puppet make a beautiful
sound with his hin like this?"

* * *
Use sports ana~ogies as much as possible: aim for the basket, dive
off a board, batth up, and cross the finish line.

* * *
Pretend you ar a puppet dangling from a string at the top of your
head. Pull up o the string to make yourself sit up. Puppets, raise
your hands wh you think you are ready to sing.

* * *

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* * *

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Develop yourin healthful vocal habits-stretching, warming up,


releasing body t nsion, drinking plenty of liquids, avoiding vocal
strain, singing d speaking in both upper and lower registers, for
example. Then ass them on to colleagues and students by example
as well as by ins ction.

* * *

* * *

The most natural way of breathing is achieved when lying on one's


back on the floor, bending over from the waist, panting like a dog.
Have students feel their abdomirtal muscles when breathing in these
positions.

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* * *
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,lf"Ch-ch-ch" sound provides resistance to the air (steam engine) .

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Some helpful analogies for taking a breath include: "sip air through
a shaw," "take a surprised breath before singing," and "you have a
carton to fill with water-where does it fill. up first?"

* * *
Some helpful analQgies for controlling the flow of air include:
"slowly squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube" and "try to fit into a
pair of jeans that are a size too small."

* * *
Give singers cues that refer to vocal production such as breath
energy flow, faster vibrations for higher pitches, and lengthening
vocal muscle for faster vibrations. Although visual cues may be
helpful, when you reach high and low to show the melody, singers
often develop tension-filled habits of squeezing muscles or raising
the larynx to reach for high pitches, landing hard on low pitches, or
dropping off energy and intonation for pitch extremes. Remember,
most accuracy problems are a result of the child:ren not being able to

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aooe% all threJ:egffit" of theiT voice,, not the lluiliility to he a<


differences m ltch.

Gaining Confidence in Singing

* * *
Pretend you ate a unicorn (provide picture) . Let the sound come
fron1 the front Jf your forehead instead of your chest.

Otten students have difficulty learning to sing because they lack


confidence. The following are suggestions for helping students feel
more confident about their singing.

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* *

You should not sing with the students. If you sing with the class,
e students will become dependent upon you and will not develop
nfidence with individual singing.
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* *

Repeat songs many times. Repetition is what makes young students


cowJortable with the song materiaL Also, do not add activities to
songs until the songs are very familiar to the students. It usually
takes several lessons before students Teally know a song. Think to
yourself~could they sing this song while walking to school? If so, it
is probably familiar enough to add activities.
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* *

Develop a procedure for teaching new songs and use it consistently.


The students will become familiar with the procedure and as a result
will learn songs more quickly. The procedure should include opportunities for the students to do the following.
Hear tl1e new song performed several times .
Echo short phrases of the song after t he teamer.
Echo longer phrases after the teacher.
Sing the whole song.

'*' * '*

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When teaching a new song, do nofbe tempted to "practice" it with


the students or to review problem phrases on the first day. The time
for this work is when the song :is reviewed in follow-up classes.

'*

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* *

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In addition, the~ludenls' pattern may be reinforced with the teacher


or students pla ing the pattern on a xylophone or tone bells when
the students sin . Some ways to turn this activity into a game are
included below.
Have the tudents pretend that they ate babies jL1st learning to
talk and tl al: all they know how to say is their pattern. No hl.attet what q estion yoLt sing to them; they answer back with
their patte n because that' s all they know how to say.
Build a .bi sandwich. TI1.e studen.ts' pattern is sung on the
words "w are bread." The teacher sings something for U1.e
sandwich, followed by the sludents' bread, followed by the
teacher pL tting something else on fue sandwich, ail.d so forth .
This also orks as a pizza with the students putting "cheese"
on after ec ch teacher lopping. Later vetsions could include the
students c eciding on a toppii1.g. The class could sing llie
"bread" o. " cheese" patt, followed by a student's filHng, followed by he class part, followed by anothet stlldent, and so
forth. Be s tre that the stude1l.ts practiCe their individual parts
all togeth r first. Then they will be comfortable with what each
is going t sing prior to playing l:he game.

~ Distinguishing Speal~ing vs. Singing

Sometimes, students use a speaking voice register for singing


because they do not hear ot understand iliat a difference exists
between speaking and singing. The following tips are helpful for
these students,

* * *
Be sure to use accurate and consistent terminology when giving
directions to students. Use ;,sing" when you Wish Lhe students to use
a singing registet Use ''chant" when you want U<e students to speak
words in thytlun in a speaking register,

* * *

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Two puppets-one whose voice is high and who loves ilie sound of
the singing voice and one whose voice more closely approximates
the speaking register-may be used to cue U1.e switch between vocal
registers. Students love saying their favorite chants with phrases
alternating bei:Weert registers-upon cue from the puppets. And solo
opportunities to demonstrate Ms. Elephant's (or whoever's) voice
are sought eagefiy. This concrete experience helps h1. other contexts,
as students can be reminded to use Ms. Elephant's voice, raU<er than
___'s voice( to sing a particular soi1.g.

* * *
Play games U1.at help students learn U1.e difference between a
singing voice and a speaking voice. For example, play Simon Sings,
a gaine similar td Simon Says, except that llie students may only do
what you sihg, rtot what you say~ The words "Simon says" are not
used. The students may also echo your sung or chanted direction,
thus experimenting with boU1. " voices." Once U1.e sthdents are comfortable with this game, a student may replace you as "Simon."

* * *

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Encouraging Individual Singi11g

Designate a p ;p~t to respond only to sili.giiig voice, nollo speech.


Examples are a urtle puppet that only comes out of its shell, or a
sleeping d0ll w 10 only wakes up, or a cone puppet that only pops
up when some 1e sings to it. Of course, the p\i.ppet responds by
singing but g.iv s no response to spoken words.

It is iillportant for students to sing individually in class, not only so

* * *

U'i.at you can assess the development of their singing voices, but also
so th.at they can hear the sound of iheir own voices. Encourage students
to sing alone by making it a regular part of each class. However, be
sure students are very familiar with the song or activity before you
ask them to sing alone. Students will sing alone, and enjoy it, when
they are not put in an awkward position or asked to perform something with which they really are not familiar and comfortable. When
you do hear students individually, tell them something that they did
right, and then give them a suggestion and model for improvement.
In lhany cas~s, you can have the child perform one inore time trying
out yout suggestion. However, do not dwell on a problem; this
lends only to discourage at1d will often embarrass the student.

Teach the son "Ten in a Bed," focusing on use of the singing voice
throughout exc .pt for "Good Night!," which uses the speakiilg
voice. Once stu .ents are comfottable with the song, tty the follmAring:
(1) have studen s close eyes; (2) walk il'i. and around students as all
begin to sing" nina Bed"; (3) tap one student on the shoulder and
only that stude1 l sings "Roll over! Roll over!" ill si11ging voice; and
(4) class identif s the mystery singer and the game continues
through the res of the verses.

* * *
You can help evelop the use of the uppet register by selecti11g
song materials hat do not remain in the lower range and by having
the students pe form arpeggio patterns, and so forth, in a slightly
higher key, perl aps the key of E or even F. It may also be helpfullo
U1e students to 1ave them echo some tonal patterns with descendi11g
melodic ccintou before singing any sdngs in each class. The neutral
syllable "whoa ' seems to work best. This vowel is focused but not
tight and the " h" usually prevents a glottal stop frmh occurring.
These patterns hould start on the C above middle C; gradually
begin the stude 1ts on an even higher hate.

* * *
Chant nursed rhymes in various ~rokes. and at varying dynamic
levels. Let the ~~udei1ts suggest wluch v01ce to use.

22

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* * *
I-!ave students put on their "headphones" while singing. This is
when the sludeii.ts cup lheit hands over their ears. It seems to ali1plliy
and isolate each child's voice for himself or herself. Often a child
shouts or sings ill a speaking voic~~ register to hear himself or herself.

* * *
To minimize the self-consciousness o the students singing alone,
try these suggestiOils.
* Use ptops. (the child who throws U1e ball sings its trajectory.
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. The child hoi ding the puppet pretends to be the puppet's
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~.,# singing voice), Pass around a play microphone and ask the
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students to si11g into it-jus lt like karaoke.
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Focus on somebody else. (The child in the center is the one
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who must gUess the name of the singer.)
Have the students close thebr eyes. (Students sing only when the
leader taps U1em.)
Let students listen to the sound of their own voice or your

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23

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voice throJ1gh a hose or tube, (The tubes designed to make a


noise as cl ildren whirl them around their heads are ideaL)
Emphasiz that the students should not sing wher1. the tube is
in anothe person's ear. TI1e sound can be painfully loud.

* * *
Have student$ sing in small groups to help them develop confidence before aslking them to sing individually.

* * *

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Musical Show and Tell: have students sing about what they might
take on a picnic, or where they went on vacation, or what they got
for Chtistinas or some other holiday, ot what color clothing they are
wearing, and so forth.

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"P.enny, Key, and TI1imble" (grades K-2). Use ar1y three objects

* * *
P1a~e stl..tdent

i.J:1. some orgar1i.zed arrar1gement (let's say they ate in

four large row ). Have the students sing through a familiar song.
Then sing thro gh again ar1d break the students into smaller groups
by si.J:nply stan ing beside a particular row. Let fuem sing a phrase
or two of tl1e s ng and then move to another row (your "move" has
to be in tempo with the song). After they have mastered small group
singing, break 1p tl1e students further by raising a hrul.d indicating
certain studen s witl1in the selected row. Before the activity begins,
inform your st tdents what your signals mean. Keep an element of
surprise so th students never know who is singing next. To achieve
this, do not ju t move down the tow of students for individual
responses. Yo car1 assess their progress and enjoy hearing them
sing ill smalle groups.

* * *

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Use songs ar d activities that encourage individual singing1 such as


name songs a d "fill in the blar1k" songs (for example, "Who's
That?"-grad s K-1; "Knock at the Door"-grades 2-3; ''telephone ,,
Song"-grad s 4-6). Have all the students sing each other's names
a:s a large gro p; then in small groups (boys ar1d girls, for example),
before indivi ual singing.

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* *

that thesludents can recognize and that can fit comfortably in their
dose-fisted hands. Students close their eyes and put their open
har1ds, palms up, out in front of themselves. You sing a thtee-note
pattern (begin with a descending pattern; descencllng major and
minor tonic patten1s seem to be easiest for helping students "pop"
into singing register) with the words "Who has the _ _ _ _ __
(name of the item)?" The class then echoes what you sang. Repeat
fot each object. The patterns may be the same for each object or different. Puring this singing, place each objec;t in a child's hand. Then
sing "Don't let us see," have tlw class echo, all close their hands
tight, and open tl1eir eyes. Instruct the students to star1d ar1d sing "I
have the
(name of U1e item)" when you ask for the
object they have in U1eir hands. Sing "Who has the _ _ _ _ __
(name of the item)?" and have the students respond as described.
Use li1is opportunity to give helpful suggestions to the students
tegardi.ng their singing. When all objects have been located, sing
"Bhng U1em to me;'' have the class echo, ar1d have those with objects
bring them to you.

'"' *

Divide the class into two groups (at first make tl1e groups equal and
tl1en ovei' sevetal class periods diminish Uie size of the second group).
Have group one sing the whole song and group two sing only the .first
hal. Eventually reduce the second group to jL1st a few students.

**

Solo apport nities can be created by designating certaii1 song


phrases to be sung by someone alone. Songs with echoed patterns or
phrases are n turals, but so are "Dinah" (the sol-mi pattetii.s), the
fi.J:st section o "Coin' to Kentucky," and U1e first ar1d last phrases of
"Schlaf; Kind ein, Schlaf." It is especi.aJly helpful when the solo begins
in a part of tl1 vocal range that requires use of U1e head register.

* * *
Play games that encomage individual singing. One such garne is
Postman. The class sings a song about a postman or letter carrier.
While they sii1g, you deliver mail to each student. (Mail consists of

25

24
~.

envelopes with v~ .tlres of various itetns like shoes, flowers, toys, rul.d
so forU<. Make p envelopes so that several have the same picture,
two or three w'th another picture, ru1d only one or two with unique
pictures). You, ing "v\lho has the
(name of the item)?"
The students ith that item hold the envelope up 1 stru1d, and sing "I
have the _
(name of the item) ." Begin by asking for an
item that is ins veral eiwelopes before calling for those in only one,

Encouraging Singing at Hotne


and on the Playground
Sit<gitg is a. natural musical response that should be encouraged ill
settit1gs outside of the music claEiS: The followiilg tips suggest ways
to encourage U1.is behavior.

* * *

* * *

Play question tmd answer singing grunes. You sii<g a simple question
or greetitig to alchild and the child responds using the same pitches.

* * *
Make solo sit gbg a routine activity so it is no big deal to the stu
dents. Also, pr vide many oppottunities for low-pressure solos. For
example, selec one child to be "it." "lt" is blbdfolded and sits it1 a
chair in front o 'the class with his or her back to thetn. The class
sings a song to ether once while the teacher selects a ,;soloist." The
soloist then sin s the song. "It" has to guess who sang the solo. The
class;s visual 1d mental focus is on "it/' ru1d whether he or she will
guess the right person, rather than on the soldist.

p)l Let it1dividuals or classes make picture books based on favorite


sorigs.

* * *

~6lf~~-

Teach students a repertoire of singi11g gaines for pairs or groups of


students. Encourage them to take ownership of the games by letting
them act as leaders it1 class.

8)Q,'~~k .
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* * *
,.;

Make game boards of songs in which somethitg is hidden ("I've


Lost the Closet Key") or a character moves ("TI<e Bear Went over the
Motmtait1"). Make large laminated versions lo use it1 the classroom
and smaller versions for students to take horne.

* * *

* * *

Build a chain. This could be a name chait1 with each child singbg
his or her nam. , or a favorite food chain1 and so forth. Have the stU"
dents practice 'I run ___ " or "I like _ _" together on a triad ot a
three-tone patl rn. Then build a chait1, by pointitg to students to
add their part 1 succession. It is sometimes helpful to have all U1e
students sitg phrase in between each it1dividual response, such as
"Who are you' or "Food is good."

* *

young students, lyrics or notation for older.

* * *

Pass the song around. First, have the students sing a familiar song
together. Then have one student sing the first phrase; pobt to anoth~
er student to s ng the second phrase, and so forth. Again, do not go
do1n or acros the rows one student after anoU1er; skip around the
room. Also, d not hesitate to call on U1e same student more than
once. Student tend to relax once U1.ey have participated, and the
opportunity t participate more thru1 once keeps theh1 alert.

26

p)l I-Iave each child make a personal song collection-pictures for

I~

)l)l Teach preadolescents a collection of songs, singbg games, and


chru1ts to use for baby-sittit1g. H<i.ve them document the songs they
have actually used it1 that settit1g.

* * *

Ah Encourage students to make audiotapes or music videos of

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themselves sbging favorite songs.

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27

Starting and 'Teaching Songs

* * *
-Be sure that th school library and primary dassrooins are liberally
sltpplied with icture books based on songs (there ate more and
more available very year). Encourage students to singlhrough the
books by using lhen:i. irt class. Purchase a supply of five-minute tapes
and record U1e ongs for use in classroom reading centers. Enclose a
book and its ta e in a freezer-weight zip-top bag for students to
check out for h me use.

The manner in which songs are taught and led, as well as the type
of accompaniment used, can have a favorable effect on students'
singing. TI1e following tips reflect strategies that have been helpful.

* * *

* * *

Students typically have a much easier time singing when U1ey are
given a vocal model for singing instead of a pitch or pattern from
the piano or other instrument. Therefore, for all new songs and, until
U1e stuclet1ts' voices are very well established, for all familiar songs,
you should sing a "ready sing" to cue U1e students to begin singing.
The "ready sing'' should establish tempo, meter, tonality, key,
dynamic level, interpretation, and beginning pattern of the song for
the students. For example, sing the beginning pattern o_f a song wiU1
words such as "ready sing" or "and here you go now."

Invite patents ~o class so lhat they can learn some of the songs U1e
students know. Encourage singing these togelher at home and let
the student coa +1 the parent.

* **
p)l Ask stude1{ts to teach U1eir parents a song and then fill out a
questionnaire, 1jnake a tape, or write a short report on li<e process.

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B, 'me to ffidude a geotute m motion wiU> the "<eady ,mg." A


~flCN
simple nod of your head will visually cue the students when to
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* * *

begii1 singing.

* * *
Once the class has sung a song, have a child who is using li<e
appropdate register give the "ready sing" for Ute class.

* * *

Ptovide oppotturtities for the students to hear a song several limes


before you teach it. For example, use the song for a movement or
rhyU1m activity prior to U1e lesson in which you will teach the song.

* * *
On U1e day you teach a song to the students, sing U1e song for the
students first, directiri.g their listening in some way. For example, ask

28

;,

29

them to listen} , specific word or phrase and count how many


t.im~s they he a it. Or, if the s_o ng h~s a phrase that is over the register lift, ask the tu'dents to tmse then hands when they,hear you use
your "very ligl t voice."

* * *
Be sure to wain up the students' voices before you ask them to
sing. Use gliss 1.dos or descendin.g triads ot arpeggios that fit with
the mode of th soilg. Prepare them to sing.

~vi
v~1r'1"

* * *
l-1:ave theme ho you singu1g short (out beat) phrases. For young
stLtdents; stop fter this activity. For older students, have them next
echo longer (ei ht beat) phrases of the song, then attempt the song
on their own. e sure to go through U1e entire song, or section of the
song that you re teaching that day If you stop and repeat phrases
during the init al teaching, the students will often "get lost" and i1ot
learn the order of events in lhe song. Be careful not to sing with the
students even 1ough they will not get every phrase correct. They
heed to echo y u , not sing with you: .Ai1d do not try to cotrect
problem phras s ot have them try the song agam on this first
attempt. Let tl song sit and review it lhe next class. If you try to
"beat'; Ute son ihto them, they will Uunk of the activity as drudgery
or learn their 1 is takes or botl1.

1\~~.Y\)
o"'"r :

Selecting Song Materials

Numerous criteria need to be considered when deciding upon


the appropriateness of a soi1g for use with students. The following suggestions should all be considered.
Range and Tessitura:
Range refers to the lowest and highest notes employed by a
song. Tessitura refers to the rat'lge where the majority of the
notes lie. These should cortespond to the range of the students
in a particular class. However, a general guideline is provided
below.

Grade

Range

Tessitura

K- 1

0 4 to 84

04 to F#4

2-3

C4 to C5

0 4 to

A4

4-6

83 to E5

0 4 to

A4

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* * *
Attitudes ab ut use of accompaniment vary. One suggestion is to
add accompar iment only after the stqdents have learned the song
welL Ai1other uggestion is to provide some si.lnple melodic ot
harmonic ace mpaniment when the students echo your phrases, but
use no accom animent when you sing so they Gan hear what you
are singu1g m re clearly. If accompaniment is used; it should be
quiet and not rverpower the students' voices. Guitat is a nice
alternative to iano. In addition, you should not always use accompaniment-st dents need to hear their own voices .

30

Vocal Demands :
Several vocal demands should be considered when determilling U1e appropriateness of a song for young su1gers.
Look at U1e treatment of the register lift in the song. The lift
ocntrs between the pitches A 4 and B4-flat or B4. It is much
easier for sfudents to shift registers by jumping over the lift
and then descending diatonically through it tha1i to ascei1d .
diatmucally through it.

31

. Contrary o popular notion, it is actually easier for students to


sirtg skip , especially descending skips, rather than sing.ir1g
scaler pat erns.
Consider e tempo of songs as well as rhythm pattern difficulty. You 1g students should not have to sing at fast tempo
and shou d not have to move the voice rapidly with difficult
rhythm p tterns.
Several n tes sung on one syllable-melismas-present
problems for most elementary school students, as does one
note repe ted several times. Those vocal demands that pose a
problem or young students also seem to pose a problem for
adolesce t singers .

Mode:

As with meter, students need to sing songs in a v ariety of modes.


Since major songs seem. to be in abundance, be on fue lookout for
minor songs as well as those in mote unusual modes. You may also
present a tnajor song in minor (similat to tl1e meter switch) , Again,
do not make this switch w~th a "cornmon" song.

~ II

i
I

i
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Text:
While the text of a song is certainly an important consideration, it
should not be the only or tnost important criterion. It is important to
know your students and then select a text based upon their experiences and one that seems relevant to their lives. Also, do not ignore
foreign language texts; secondary school students especially like
these. Finally, be certain that the text and music match.

Length of So11g:

>f

Usually, son s intended for K-2 are too long. This does not seem
to be a probler with songs published for older students. Generally;
songs of four hrases of four beats are appropriate for primary
~songs f eight four-beat p 1rases or middle gra es, with
longer songs b ing appropriate but not necessary, fat upper elemen~ary grades. H wever, adolescent singers should not sing extremely
long songs or or long periods of time.

Call-and-response songs work vety well with students. Look for


so1igs U1at have a repeated section tl1at is easy for tl1e students to
Sing in response to the teacher singing the other sections.

* * *
Finally; choose song materials catefully. Remember to make a
distinction between songs for listening and songs for singing in
music class for vocal development. Mai1y songs that are popular
with students, often those from various television shows, do not
encourage singing accuracy because U1e range is generally too wide
and the text too complicated for U1e students to think about actually
singing correctly. These songs may be fine for listening to at home,
but they are not appropriate to sing in music class if tl1e goal is
vocal development.

Repetition:
Most songs 1ave repetition of some sott, such as tonal patterns;
rhytlun patter s, or text. More repetition is needed fot younger students tl1an for lder students. The easiest type of repetition is when
the words, me ody, and rhythm repeat. A melody that repeats with
different word is a bit more difficult but does not usually cause any
problems for tl e students. Howeve1~ when words repeat on a different
melody, the st dents seem to have some difficulty, especially K-2:
Try to avoid t is type of repetition for younger singers, and do not
become frustr ted if U1ey have difficulty with this.

Meter:
Students ne d to sing songs in a variety of meters. Therefore,
guard against inging only duple songs. lf you have difficulty in
locating triple meter songs, find a new duple song and teach it as a
triple song. H wever, do not present a "common" song in a meter
other than tha in which it is traditionally sung.

* *

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32

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33