How to teach babies, toddlers and Kinder to sing in tune

Music class

A group of 3-4 year olds during a Rhythm Rumble music class

 

You know when you hear your favourite song on the radio and you pump up the volume and you sing along and you think to yourself  “Man, I killed it” and think your the next Beyonce.   But when you try to sing it again without the music as backup you realise how terrible you actually sound.  Well, this is exactly what happens when a teacher does all the singing in a music class.  The children “hide” behind the teachers voice and are not hearing their own voice in their head and can not alter it to sing in tune.  The result is they sing flat.  Which is such a shame because research that babies are born with perfect pitch.

During my training and experience working with toddlers, teaching children to sing is trickier than you can imagine.  The key is to have the children sing back to you without adult interference.  Ha! I hear you say, every time you stop singing, they stop.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you in your music class.

  1.  Repetition is the key

During Rhythm Rumble classes we don’t overkill the repetition, except for simple action songs and the hello song.  What I have noticed is when children have heard the same song over and over again they start to join in the music making.  Over the course of a few months the music teacher can start encouraging the children to sing while the teacher does the actions. Hence eliminating the teachers voice and letting the children hear themselves.

2.  Slide whistle or props 

I have started a new game at the beginning of our music classes and the kids absolutely love it.  I have a slide whistle and all the children have to hold their pretend slide whistle which they can control with their hand by going up and down.  I make a sound with the whistle and the children have to imitate the sound using their voices.  This is a great voice warm up and has the children use their vocal chords like they never had.

I have seen other music teachers hold “pretend microphone” and go around the room have children sing into the microphone as well.

3.  Solfege singing

Solfege singing is when your hand hold certain positions when singing different pitches.  If you aren’t schooled in the solfege hand movements thats OK.  At Rhythm Rumble we use the entire body for pitch recognition and have the children play a copy cat game.  The teacher sings a combination of notes while touching different parts of the body ie. feet (Do) Knees (Re) and the children copy and sing the notes.  The children always get really involved in these sorts of activities.

4.  Baby music classes

At our baby music class, teaching singing is done differently.  Instead of the child singing, the teacher or primary care does all the singing.  Singing to baby and making eye contact has shown to have so many neurological benefits that the maternal health nurse needs to have “singing” on her check list along with tummy time and reading to baby.  The big lesson here is sing, sing, sing.  I remember when my daughter was a baby the only song that would get her to sleep was “The way we were” by Barbara Striesand.  I’m not necessarily comparing myself to Barbara, but, um the proof is in the pudding wouldn’t you say! She did go to sleep from my singing.

Anyway, another way to have babies recognise different pitches is to imitate their sound making, such as aaahhs and goo and watch the babies delight in their communicating.

Music is suppose to be fun and joyful, so please don’t take yourself too seriously when you sing with children, they are never judging you!  They are just happy you’re singing with them.

 

Enjoy, Lola

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