Do you sing in your music lessons? Singing can be a valuable way to wake up your students’ ears and improve their musicianship. Find out 4 easy ways to get started in this episode.
- Solfa for Piano Teachers…for Beginners
- Singing Games with the Full Solfa Scales
- 4 Awesome Uses for Singing in the Piano Studio
- VMT027: 5 Ways to use solfa singing in your music lessons
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Vibrant vibrant vibrant music teaching proven and practical tips strategies than ideas for music teachers.
You’re listening to episode forty nine of the vibrant music teaching podcast. I’m Nicola Cantan and in this show I’ll give you four quick and easy ideas to bring more singing into your music studio.
Hey there beautiful teachers this week we’re talking about singing which is a topic that is very important to me because I’ve brought a lot more singing into my studio in the past number of years. I used to probably never sing at all I imagine in my original lessons and my early lessons but I brought a lot more singing into my studio in recent years. Now if you are listening to this and you are a voice teacher you may want to skip this episode because these are going to be basic ideas for those of us who don’t teach singing. So the reason I find singing so valuable though for those of us that don’t teach singing is while there’s many many uses for it and it should be may be obvious and maybe I was silly for not realizing it in the first years of teaching but the voice is our most baked in instrument right it’s the original instrument that we have and if we don’t explore that if we’re too shy or nervous to make our students actually sing in their lessons it really can hold them back in developing their musicality. Not everyone has to love singing or want to perform singing in front of people but I believe all musicians should sing as part of their practice. It’s an important way to understand the music that you’re playing and trying to create.
So there are four main well four slash five main benefits that I see from using the voice in your music lessons. The first benefit that I’ve seen from my students who sing more in their lessons is that we can use that as a reading assistant. What I mean by that is especially with sight reading. If you’re able to sing it out loud if you’re able to do some form of sight singing even if it’s not super accurate then you’re more likely to be able to sing it in your head and if you can look through something and sing it in your head before you start playing it much easier to play it because you have some sense of how it’s going to sound. And without singing these things out loud first it can be very hard for students to develop this ability. It’s kind of a bit abstract or something probably all of us can do right but whether we develop through singing or not we developed it from years and years of training and if we get students to sort of imitate this by singing the piece first. However roughly then they will develop this ability to do it internally in their head to hear the music before they play it which can lead to fantastic sight reading skills. Singing can also be used at the other end of the spectrum as it were as a memory aid.
If you have students who struggle to memorize their pieces well they can’t hope to be able to perform them if they can’t even sing it to you and sing not just the melody but maybe the bass lines from memory. If you’re memorizing something important I think you should be able to sing again. However roughly not with beautiful tone production but you should be able to sing and approximate each of the lines so that you actually know and can remember what’s going on and you’re not relying on what we tend to call muscle memory right. So it’s not just instinctive. My fingers look like this or go here but you have a more in-depth aural understanding of what’s going on through being able to sing it. You can also use singing in your music studio as a method of rhythm correction. And I know many teachers do this or many teachers at least use words to help their students who struggle with rhythm. And if you’re going to use that as a strategy a great next step is to get them to sing it so that helps to bridge the gap from saying pancakes pancakes chocolate sauce or whatever rhythm you’re practicing silly words or perhaps with good eye syllables if they can then sing that.
They can much more easily apply it to their peace and do it consistently at home because they’re able to produce that themselves with the melody. The other thing of course that singing is good at developing is aural training in general just getting students to develop their ear and sing regularly will allow them to uncover their abilities with their ear. You know we often talk about students who have a strong ear and a weak ear and many students actually could have a strong ear quote unquote if they just sang more because they would be more aware of what was going on in the music. And that’s the other thing that goes along with that is that students who sing more often in general lesson more actively to music to music they’re listening to and to music they’re playing themselves. And that’s a huge huge skill that we need to teach them is active listening proper listening when they’re playing and when they’re analyzing other people’s playing and perhaps when they’re just enjoying music too. Right. OK. So those are all the reasons that I believe or some of the big reasons that I believe you should consider bringing singing into your music studio. But how are you going to do it. Well I’ve got four simple ideas for you with some silly fun baked in. So the first idea is to use animal sounds animal sounds.
What are they doing in a music studio. Well as many of you know I teach very young students and we use animal science as a way to explore our voices. Some students need to take that step of trying to figure out where their speaking voice is and where their singing voice is and how to create pitch. I hear from many teachers who have the odd student or two that really cannot match pitch even at a later age.
That’s very normal at a younger age. But even heading up towards 10 years old cannot match pitch or beyond of course or teenagers adult students and when they can’t match pitch obviously that’s going to hold them back from not just singing but there has to be some disconnect there where they’re not hearing it in the same way if they can’t reproduce it and it’s going to hold them back in their musical growth. So using animal sounds is a simple way to get students to explore their voice making moves sound or shapes sounds or whatever with young students can get them thinking about their voice going up and going down. The second idea can do that as well and that’s to use squiggles and sirens. What I mean by squiggles are that you just draw a line of some shape on the board and then you try to trace that line with your voices. So perhaps it goes all the way up and all the way down or it starts at the top and goes down and then up or it does a roller coaster and you can have a bit of fun with it and just create different lines and try to draw them together. You can try that with different vowels and or in conjunction with the animal noises that were the first idea. The sirens are a great way to get students moving at the start of the lesson loosened up and explore their voice at the same time.
And I know different people mean different things by sirens. My siren is very simple. I’m not talking about actually imitating ambulance or police or anything although you can do that too and that’s good. What I do when I say sirens is we’re starting crouch down on the floor with a low end and then raising all the way up making it sound and the whole way so and following our voices with the movement. So we start crouch down. We’d go all the way up hands into the air like a Mexican wave and then all the way back down and we follow that with our face voices. So like I say this helps get the wiggles out. It helps students to be moving around as a great warm up. So we often do this in conjunction with the general warm up that I do with students to loosen up their arms and get their shoulders relaxed and all of that stuff. The next option is maybe a little bit more training required. I don’t want to even say training because that makes it seem like you really do need specialized training and you don’t. The next idea is self singing and some piano teachers or music teachers can be a little bit intimidated by yourself. Maybe if they haven’t used it or they feel like there’s some secret that they don’t know about and therefore they can’t explore it. And you absolutely can. It’s just a way to explore scales.
I can do lots more than that. And there’s a lot more background around it which you’ll find on the colourful Keys blog and on the podcast here. I’ve talked about it before as well. Back in Episode 26 and 27 of the podcast and there’s a blog post as well which I’ll link to all of this in the show. So if you just go to vibrantmusicteaching.com/49 because this is episode 49 you’re listening to now and I’ll link to everything there are all the resources I’ve prepared about sulfa and goodbye but doing self singing doesn’t have to be scary and it doesn’t have to be require some major training or a book. All you need to do is pick a simple pattern to sing together and you can do that using cell phone. The simplest option you have is just to do two notes just practice a particular interval using two notes and you can vary the rhythm to keep it interesting. A great way to have students follow you during this so follow the rhythm that you’re doing is to do the Kerwin hand signs which if you look up again the resources on the show notes you’ll see those referenced in all of the posts that I’ve laid out for you there. So the current hand signs are just an easy way for you to stay together and sing as a group.
Another way to work on sofa together is to use the solfa posters which are available on the blog and in the vibrant music teaching library. And again there’s a link in the show notes to those posters I just I put them up on the back of my studio door and we practice solfa just by me pointing to them in order to direct students with what to sing. And it’s easy to make that easier or harder right. So for beginning students maybe it’s just a pattern of me and so and then we expand to do re mi so. But there’s no other jumps. Then we go to the pentatonic scale. Then we start exploring particular jumps and integrating those and eventually the full major scale in certain patterns. So it’s an easy way to have a varied vocal warm up in each and every lesson. There is also a game in the vibrant music teaching library called sidestep sulfa which is a really fun way to practice this where you’re stepping side to side to follow the self of notes and there’s lots more ideas about self singing in Episode 27.
I won’t talk about it too much because there’s already a whole podcast about that idea. The final idea I have for you is to use singing games or folk songs you can find a lot of these in Kodály resources. So when that’s available this side of the Atlantic easily is by NYCOS which is National Youth Choir of Scotland. NYCOS. They have great books called Singing games and rhymes for various different age groups which I’ve used a lot and the Kodály association in America or Australia or wherever you are will have a similar resource usually available. In fact the American Kodály Association has a whole catalogue online of folk songs. The only thing about them is there’s not that many that have directions of what to do. But you can certainly make up your own actions to go along with them.
I have incorporated this style of folk songs with particular actions and games to go along with it all the way through my curricula which are available on the vibrant music teaching side.
So those are the many musicians for pre-school groups tiny finger take off for solo preschoolers and then the piano power booster curricula which take you through average age beginners or preschoolers who have graduated from the other two programs and they take you all the way through and I incorporate folk songs through right there because they are a great way to I’ll just work on so many different singing skills to work on singing to work on staying with the beat to work on understanding rhythm so many different things you can explore through folk songs and you can also then use them as pieces that your students play by ear at the piano or at your instrument. So they work them out by ear because folk songs are have stood the test of time for a reason. A lot of them are using just a few notes. They’re easy to remember the words make them even more memorable and they’re easy to then work out on the instrument. OK so those four ideas for you. Here’s your challenge. Pick one of those things and try it out try it this week. Just do a warm up everyday this week or if you’re not teaching this week the next week that you’re back to teaching do warm up every day with your students a vocal warm up pick whichever one of those sounds easiest to you and just try it and try it with all of your students for a whole week and see what happens.
It should be a an exploration let me know how you get on with that. When you have tried to date in the vibrant music studio teachers Facebook group or on the show notes for this podcast episode at vibrant music teaching dot.com slash forty nine leave it in the comments that I’d love to hear about it before I let you go. I wanted to let you know that if you’re listening to this as it goes live there is a webinar coming up all about teaching using that 12 bar blues. It’s on Wednesday 3rd of July at 5 p.m. in Dublin which is late morning on the eastern side of the US and early ish morning. Over on the West Coast and it’ll be quite late at night if you’re down in Australia. So the webinar is all about teaching the blues as I say and you can join me totally for free if you want to vibrantmusicteaching.com/blues to sign up and if you’re listening to this after the fact. Members of vibrant music teaching can catch the replay of that webinar inside the library. It’ll be there for you when ever you want to catch up with the blues.
That’s it for this week. I’ll see you next time. Bye for now.
Favorite music teaching members have access to the full tiny finger take off piano power booster. And many musicians programs which incorporate these hanging ideas mentioned in this episode. If you’re not a member yet you can go to VMT.ninja to sign up today. I’ll see you there.
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