Sunday, 15 May 2011

Encouraging Singing

One of the most beautiful sounds in the world is the sound of a small child singing.  But how do we encourage children to sing?  Here are some useful ideas...
Parents and teachers often wonder how to encourage children to sing.    How can they give the gift of singing to their child when they may not feel confident in singing themselves?  In a society where there is so much recorded music there is less call for people to make the music themselves.  Are we forgetting how to sing? 

Consider the Zimbabwean proverb:   
If you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing. 

Apart from the profoundly deaf, we all have the capacity to sing.  We just need to learn to drive our voice, and focus our ears.  Here are some fun ideas to encourage singing with children. 

  • Stories: when you read stories to your children look for any opportunities to make sound effects with your voice.  Encourage your child to join you in making the sounds.  When children make high and low sounds with their voice (animal noises, machine noises etc) it helps them explore what their voice can do and how to create those sounds.  This exploration is necessary before children can sing in tune. For example:
-     The Hairy Maclary stories have lots of different dog/cat noises.  Make these at different pitches with your voice.
-     Use different voice pitches for different characters in a story.  E.g. Goldilocks and the three bears.  Papa Bear can speak in a low voice “Who’s been eating my porridge?”, Mama Bear in a mid range, and Baby Bear in a high voice. 
-     Stories with tractors, trucks, and helicopters give great opportunities to make engine noises as you and your child read the story.

  • Sing the machines in your house.  With your child, try matching the pitch of the vacuum cleaner!  The vacuum cleaner is a good one because when it is turned on it rises to a stable pitch level and stays there.  This gives children a chance to listen and match the pitch.  It then falls in pitch when you turn it off. 
  • Sing the cake mixer (if you have time to bake!).  My old Kenwood mixer would rise up the scale as we turned the numbers on the dial.  My daughter used to love controlling the dial and singing the sound of the mixer as we baked.
  • Sing the hair dryer.  Most hair dryers have 2 speeds.  Hum the different pitches.
  • Singing conversations:  Use just two notes initially.  The so-me interval is a good beginning.  If you can’t think of the notes just think back to your childhood and hum “I’m the king of the castle,” then you’ll get the tune.  Sing conversations such as “What do you want on your toast today?”, “Would you like a glass of milk?”, “Which story did you choose?”, “Where are you hiding?”.  Encourage your child to sing the answers.
  • Sing the stairs. Whether it is a full flight of stairs or just a few, sing and count them as you go up and down.
 Have fun singing and vocalizing interesting sounds with your kids...
...and the very best thing is that your child doesn't care if you are a rock star or not. She will just enjoy the smile on your face and the fun you are having together.

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