Singing game with xylophones
Backing tracks can be really fun and create an instant feel-good factor in the classroom. However, when you take the backing tracks away for a while, you will be able to start to hear the children’s individual voices.
Many children, when singing with backing tracks have a lovely safe place to hide out in ‘mime mode’ and can hope for the rest of the group to carry them along.
Have you ever asked a child to sing one of these songs by themselves, unaccompanied? I bet many children would be scared to try. They are carried along by the feeling the song gives (which I agree can be great) but are they really developing THEIR OWN voices and working on THEIR OWN musicianship skills?
In English would you ask a child just to listen to a story and try to read along without ever hearing their individual reading ability and moving them on from where they are?
In maths would you just do lots of general whole class questions and allow the less confident children to always let the more able answer?
Of course not – that would not be developing their OWN SKILLS
That’s why it’s SO IMPORTANT to sing UNACCOMPANIED at times, and really LISTEN to the children’s voices. From there you can ASSESS where they are and know how to help them MOVE FORWARD. Isn’t that what teaching is about?
Have you ever thought about analysing the songs you teach your children?
A song can be analysed in terms of its rhythm content, pitch content and range, among other things.
I love analysing songs – it’s great fun to take a song apart and see what it really contains – then you can work out if a song is a good one for your children –
Take ‘hot cross buns’ for example. The pitch content is Do Re and Mi. The rhythm content is Ta, Te-te- and ‘sh’.
In traditional language the pitch content would be C, D, E or G, A, B for instance and the rhythm content would by crotchets, quavers and rests.
Have you ever sung the song ‘Cauliflowers fluffy’? This has a HUGE range, many chromatics, syncopated rhythms and complex melodic leaps – and yet it has been deemed as ideal for 4 year-olds in many schools.
In maths, would you teach algebra to a 4 year old or would you start with numbers to 5?
In English would you teach the complexities of grammar to a 4 year old or would you start with recognising letters?
So in music, let’s look closely at what we are really teaching and give our children the best chance to learn by starting them at the beginning – 2 notes to sing in tune, rather than10?
If you start at the beginning, you get the best results and children start to really understand music and how it works! Brilliant!