Friday, February 19, 2016



A K-6 General Music teacher is expected to teach students how to sing, but most of us come into the profession because we can sing. So how do we reach students who can't sing on pitch? How do we get struggling students to sing HIGH and LOW? How do we get them to connect the pitch in their voice to the notes on the page? These are challenges that every music teacher faces and luckily, there are many different strategies and techniques that can help all students and also make it fun!
One thing I think is hard for a lot of teachers is to break down the big goal of singing into little learning experiences. One of my co-workers is a pro at this. She is able to do all kinds of "on the spot" vocal and rhythmic activities that get the kids singing. So, part of the challenge is finding effective activities, and then becoming an expert at implementing them into the curriculum. In light of that challenge, I've come up with three things to share that I've learned about helping all students sing on pitch.
WARM UPS-Show High and Low or Solfege signs whenever you sing.
My students sing at the beginning of every class. We sing a "Hello" song and then we sing names on sol-mi or mi-do. I ask them to show the pitch for all names. As my students progress through the year I will give them the starting note of a song they know and then ask them to sing it acapella. At the end, I play the starting note to see if they ended on pitch. I also use this song to train their ears. I will have students go to the xylophones and try to play the melody or just play an Ostinato during the song.
KODALY SIGHT SINGING*so *mi *la *Curwen Hand Signs *I Can's
ACTIVITIES-Play games and do activities that use the whole body.
RAG DOLL: Whole body warm up.
ECHO ME: In Kindergarten and First grade begin with some sol-mi echo patterns. Try using a puppet to show high and low. Then move into using solfege. As the students progress in their ability to sing and sign, ad in la, then later ad in low "do" and finally "re". Use Kodaly songs to support these activities. One song that's effective is "CUCKOO" a beginning Kodaly song. You can use it to teach ta and ti-ti, sol-mi and develop listening skills.
Teacher sings a melodic phrase. Students echo. If teacher sings the pattern SOL-LA-MI the students are supposed to be silent.
SCARVES-Use scarves to keep students attention and get the whole body moving.
-Give students a scarf (this works great even with 6th graders). Have the students sing and move the scarf high and low. You can have them echo you, echo the piano, a recorder, a xylophone, a recording-whatever you have!
-Ask a student to come to the front of the class. The class follows the path of the scarf with their voices. You can also add in a piano accompaniment so that the scarf holder has to follow the music too or just use some drum tracks or a hand drum so that you can keep them on the beat
BALLS-You can use balls to help students find their head voices and differentiate between HIGH and LOW in their vocal register. 
-Pair up students. Student A bounces the ball and Student B has to echo the path of the ball. Switch.
-Use the ball in a whole group setting. Demonstrate how to bounce the ball and how you want the students to use their voices. You could choose to have them sing "ooo" or you could do some fun sounds like "buzzzz" and "neeee" and "neigh".
PUPPETS-Use puppets to demonstrate high and low and warm up voices.
Make puppets out of animal paper plates and ask students to make up the animal sounds. Then use those sounds to warm up their voices. The idea is to get them "out of the box" thinking that they are suppose to sing and just get them using their voices.

POPSICLE STICKS-Use them to conduct the students or to demonstrate HIGH and LOW.

Zoom to the Moon Sol-Mi Melodic Concept Game

CURRICULUM-Integrate and embrace Kodaly methodology into your music curriculum.
This is my article on "Why the Kodaly Method Works" with some resources you can use.
THIS LINK WILL TAKE YOU TO THE KODALY CENTER with resources for folk songs and more. 
-Use pitch maps and vocal explorations to help students find their head and chest voices.
-Connect through art by having students draw a pitch map and sharing it with the class.
-Use Visuals to help students connect with their EYES and EARS and VOICE.
                                                  Kodaly Hand Signs Posters 
Kodaly Core Curriculum Songs, Games and Activities- Find your local area chapter of Kodaly Educators and take some classes. You will be amazed at how your students respond to your new and fun lessons. Organization of American Kodaly Educators OAKE
                                                    Snail, Snail: Resources to support this classic, little song
Most importantly students need....................................................................................
ENCOURAGEMENT! I tell my students they are SUPER SINGERS! It puts a smile on their face and takes away the FEAR of singing. Envision all of your students singing, Enlighten them with your knowlege and Engage them with activities and learning opportunities to develop into SUPER SINGERS!!!
You can find more of my Kodaly Resources HERE  
 KODALY SONG "Rain, Rain, Go Away" 10 Lessons- Melody Ostin
Hopefully you've got some more ideas on how to DEVELOP SUPER SINGERS in your classroom. I hope you'll share them here!

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