By Sally K. Albrecht and Andy Beck, Alfred Choral & Classroom Editors
At several recent conventions, Andy Beck and I have enjoyed presenting a session titled “Teach Me To Sing! A Guide to Training Young Singers.” We have had so many positive comments about the presentation and the approach that we’ve taken to developing children’s singing skills. Here are the six simple steps we recommend.
STEP 1 – Develop basic singing and listening skills with ECHO SONGS.
Echo songs are the very best way to start primary singers. When you demonstrate proper vocal tone and technique, then your singers will echo it back correctly. This is a wonderful way to develop ear training, pitch awareness, rhythmic accuracy, and good vocal habits in young singers.
STEP 2 – Now that we’ve got the basics, let’s sing in UNISON.
Start young voices on simple age-appropriate melodies set in comfortable vocal ranges. Then gradually introduce challenges as musical objectives are met. Remember, students will learn so much through lyrics, so choose songs that inspire and educate as well as entertain!
STEP 3 – Develop vocal independence by singing ROUNDS AND CANONS.
There’s no better way to introduce part-singing than by performing rounds and canons. Be sure to thoroughly learn the melody in unison first, then divide students into sections. Take turns leading or following. Or YOU be the leader, and let students follow!
STEP 4 – Pair two complimentary melodies singing PARTNER SONGS.
These highly effective teaching songs ensure vocal independence as two tunes are overlapped. Repeat each song three times; sing the familiar melody first, the new melodic partner second, and then combine them for each-to-achieve counterpoint harmony!
STEP 5 – Integrate RHYTHM AND MUSIC READING ACTIVITIES into your curriculum.
We know that learning styles vary, so it’s important to teach and reinforce musical concepts in a variety of ways each time you are with your students. For rhythmic reading, try clapping, tapping, chanting, walking, and playing classroom instruments. For music reading, incorporate regular practice and drill to develop musicianship.
STEP 6 – After all of your hard work, now you are ready to sing BEGINNING 2-PART SONGS.
Now you’re ready to experience the beauty and fun of choral singing, introducing beginning 2-part songs with independent counterlines, echoing phrases, or musical lines that move in opposite directions. Select repertoire that is designed for success.
After all your excellent preparation and fun work, now you should be ready to introduce your developing 2-part singers to choral octavos!