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How to explain pitching a note to a Year 1


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#16 Eureka

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 15:52

That's very inspiring Sylvette! I don't think I'd get him anywhere near a singing lesson right now, but hearing about real life experiences like yours help I think.

 

I sense a fair amount of adults 'searching for talent' among children in all sorts of areas (eg sport, which seems to get serious very early on) which could be a bit damaging. 


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#17 Cyrilla

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 21:29

Tell your husband he is far from a lost cause!

 

I once taught a 70 year old, highly intelligent and sensitive man who had been told all his life he couldn't sing - especially by his FATHER, who was a good amateur singer (sang solos in Messiah etc.).

 

It wasn't easy for him but he did improve a LOT.   He also had a lesson with someone you'll meet on the Holistic Voice course, who got him making primal sounds (shouting, laughing etc.).   When my student was telling me about it, he said, 'It was as if I had a hollow tube inside me all these years, filled with cotton wool - and suddenly the cotton wool was blown away out of the tube'.   He broke down in tears and so did I.


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#18 Gran'piano

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 15:32

Mr.G cannot sing in tune - but he can do the three-tone Post Horn sound I mentioned earlier a treat. Weird.


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#19 elemimele

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 19:07

Cyrilla, that is beautiful and inspiring, and he's a poet as well as a singer.

(wildly off-topic but it's too close an opportunity to miss) (yes, really wildly off-topic)

A couple of years ago I found an old plastic Dolmetsch recorder in a junk shop bygones' emporium. It had a massive wad of cotton wool stuck up the head joint, barely visible unless viewed carefully. Its price-tag was peanuts. I bought it because I'm sort-of interested in musical history and it struck me that with Dolmetsch's place in the recorder revival, I'd like to know what their mass-produced instrument did. I paid my peanuts, took the head joint off, covered the labium and blew. Out popped the cotton wool like a pea-shooter, landing in the proprietor's little bowl of trinkets near his cash register. Then I put the head joint back on and played it. Very nice it was too, quite charming. "B***er!" said the proprietor, "I'd have added ten quid if I knew it played!"

(normal service can now resume; thank you for listening)


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#20 Karensnagsby

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 23:10

Can I please ask Cyrilla - having just read your post above, I’m sure you will be able to answer my question. I have recently started teaching a six year old and a method book that I’m using contains games and exercises using singing and Eurythmics, the kind similar to what you mentioned above. I’m actually teaching guitar but even so, these other activities are included.

I’m sticking with what the book says, we’re going to work through all of it, one reason being that I’ve never taught a child that young before and also, it seems to be going well. For the singing, the Curwen hand signs are used and to date, we have done So, Mi and La which are tied in with the notes to be played on guitar.

I don’t know enough about it other than what I understand from the book I referred to. I understand intervals and pitching notes but why the hand signs? What purpose do they serve? Please could you suggest any publications that I could read on the subject so I’m not just blindly following what the book says? I like to know WHY I’m doing things.

If you’re able to advise, thank you.
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#21 Cyrilla

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 23:46

@Karensnagsby - is this Luke Dunlea's Jigsaw book?

 

The handsigns were devised by John Curwen in the 19th century but were somewhat adapted by Kodály and these are the ones that are almost always used today.

 

They serve various purposes:

 

~ they provide a kinaesthetic and visual experience of pitch.   Many choir conductors will help their singers by showing a melodic shape by moving their hands up and down, but these are more precise.

 

I've had (adult) students who say, 'I can now see the pitch and feel the pitch as well as hear it'.  When you combine visual, aural and kinaesthetic it is very powerful.

 

When experienced with them, it becomes very difficult to handsign one pitch and sing another (although K teachers have to do this, for example when singing one thing but handsigning another for the students to read blink.png), because the association of physical movement and heard/sung sound is so strong.

 

They give a visual picture of each pitch.   Curwen named his solfa pitches as e.g.'doh - the strong or firm tone' and 'fah - the desolate or awe-inspiring tone', and I think he succeeded in many ways in making the hand shape fit the character of the pitch.   I always think the fa and ti handsigns are particularly clever - the 'downwards leading note' - because the fa wants to resolve downwards to the mi that it's pointing to, and the ''upwards leading note' because the ti wants to resolve upwards to the do.

 

~ They are a powerful tool for sight-reading.   Students can read from the teacher's handsigns - both aloud and in their heads.   This latter promotes musical memory too - they watch the handsigns and sing internally, then sing aloud the phrase or motif.    This activation of the inner hearing is essential for later sight-singing from stick notation and the stave.

 

Two groups can read from two-part handsigns, thus tuning and hearing intervals.

 

It's a mistake to think of them as a rather irrelevant 'add-on'.   I wub.png handsigns!


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#22 Karensnagsby

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 13:17

I understand now, the hand signs are an intrinsic part of pitching notes. I’ve got to train myself further!

The book I am using is New Dimensions in Classical Guitar for Children by Sonia Michelson. I am working from it, rather than using it as a book which the student also has to learn the pieces and technique. I choose that one because I like how it doesn’t just dwell on guitar technique and progressive pieces but early musicianship in general. It has rhythm games and we sing as well. It is quite difficult for my student to even pluck the strings properly at the moment despite a half size guitar so this way is a better option, I think.

Thank you so much for your input Cyrilla, it’s most helpful.
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#23 Banjogirl

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 13:35

We have a lady in the chorus who was told she couldn't sing as a child, and so never did. She came along to the chorus with her friend, not expecting to be welcomed, and turned out to have the most fabulous bass voice. She is one of our most reliable and accurate singers. It infuriates me that anyone would ever tell a child they couldn't sing. I had quite a few growlers join my children's choir but I never had one who wouldn't and couldn't sing a solo in tune by the time they left.
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#24 Jlma

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 15:46

Lots of really good ideas and suggestions BUT for me, I have 3 pupils who nearly refuse to sing at all.  "I don't like singing" is the reply I get.

Then I say, well, I am going to sing and you sing with me, or hum with me.  

Any suggestions here would be welcome.

So obviously, no singing in school, shame.

Thanks

Hi

No real ideas. One of my children absolutely hates singing, won't sing and I think, I have never actually ever heard him sing anything.

 

It's easy to blame schools or parents. I don't think it's always fair, and don't see what I could have done differently - whatever I did worked for child 1 who loved to sing and sang in choirs, but not at all for this one.

 

I used to sing for and with my kids when they were  young: He wouldn't join in. He attended general baby/toddler music classes where there was a lot of singing.

 

He went to one Kodaly class for young children, then a Kodaly/Dalcroze class  at Guildhall for 2 years. Did NOT sing.

 

In his nursery and school they DID sing. A lot. He wouldn't open his mouth, not even in a large group.

 

His instrumental teacher, whom he had since the age of 6 always encouraged him to sing. I can't imagine a more positive, experienced and patient teacher - he had and still has absolutely no chance 8 years later. Child won't sing.

 

Luckily, the teacher prefers Trinity exams,  so no singing required for exams, but I think if he had to do ABRSM Aurals he would simply fail the aurals not for actual lack of aural skills but for absolutely refusing to sing.

 

Obviously, nobody ever told him he couldn't sing or anything like that. The complete opposite - but without pressurising him either. He basically grew up surrounded by music, music making and singing.

 

He has a good ear for intonation when he plays his string instrument and no disability or any other problems with his voice or otherwise.

 

He simply says he doesn't like singing and doesn't see the point. Why can't he just play his instrument? Which of course, he can. Why torture a child trying to force them to sing? What is the point? They have to do enough at school or in life they may not enjoy. 

 

I've come to the conclusion that some just don't want to sing and hate singing but can still play a musical instrument in tune and enjoy listening to music. It's possible to hate singing in a way that some people might hate playing the piano/violin/running marathons or other things and nobody should be made feel bad about it.

 

As a string teacher, I've even found there is not necessarily any connection between being able to sing (aloud) in tune and the inner ear or playing in tune. I have come across pupils who can happily sing in tune with a beautiful voice but can't play even approximately in tune to save their lives. Some can sing and play in tune, some can sing in tune but not play in tune and vice versa.

 

I'd be intrigued to know however if anyone has ever turned someone who absolutely refused to sing since earliest childhood, and how. 


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#25 Cyrilla

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Posted 28 February 2019 - 23:56

I remember at one school going into the Reception class and the teacher introduced me to the children, saying 'This is Miss R, she's going to do some singing with you' and a very strong little voice piped up, 'I HATE singing!'

 

The owner of this voice stayed learning from me until she left school and had the Intermediate (Level 8) musicianship exam under her belt by the age of 17.

 

:)


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#26 Gran'piano

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Posted 02 March 2019 - 09:33

@ Jlma

A couple of mixed thoughts to these points.

whatever I did worked for child 1 who loved to sing and sang in choirs, but not at all for this one.

Books on  'How to Teach Children' sometimes imply that if we do this, the child will do that. But the children don't read these books and they don't do it.

What works like a charm for one, cuts no ice with another.

One of my grandchildren flatly refused to sing in Kindergarten. "The other children sing. I don't". Her mother sang, her father sang, her aunts sang... She sings solo with a choir now and I have no idea what happened.

Obviously, nobody ever told him he couldn't sing or anything like that. The complete opposite - but without pressurising him either. He basically grew up surrounded by music, music making and singing.

In spite of that, the child may have got the idea that the older sibling would be better at it and thus it wasn't worth trying.

Some children, when they have made some decision and voiced it, find it very difficult to back down and change - and the longer it goes on the harder it gets.

He simply says he doesn't like singing and doesn't see the point.

If he has never sung, what makes him think that?

 

No ideas for solving the 'problem' though.

 

I once had a pupil who flatly refused to do a certain exercise everyone else did.  For ten years.

One day another teacher took the group. The following week, same exercise, the lad asked if he should do it too. My mouth dropped. '-er yes sure'

I raced off to ask the other teacher what on earth she had done to persuade him. She said 'Nothing. He just did it. I didn't realise he had never done it before'.

Go figure.


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#27 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 02 March 2019 - 18:15

Any tips for getting a 6 year old piano student to make his voice go lower? I'm trying to get him to sing middle C and D and he is pitching around the G above and can't seem to differentiate the notes at all. The notes he's coming out with sound high in relation to the pitch of his speaking voice, so I don't think he is physically unable to hit C, but he can't seem to understand how to alter the pitch of his voice at will! I have never met a child like this before and am stumped! He does understand the concept of low/high notes in relation to the piano keyboard, but when I ask him to try to sing lower he actually sings higher...

Can he sing Happy Birthday to You? If he can't, and he can't mimic notes played on the piano either, I'd have to wonder if he's tone deaf. Or is that expression outlawed? How many people have ever met a tone-deaf person? I think I have only ever met one.

Sorry if I missed the point by not reading the whole thread.


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#28 Cyrilla

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Posted 02 March 2019 - 22:52

@Gordon Shumway - tone deafness - more properly amusia, is a rare condition affecting a very small proportion of the population.   Amusics cannot hear pitch differences and will often speak in a near-monotone.

 

I have never, in :whistling: years of teaching found anyone who can't improve their pitching ability.

 

In answer to two of your points:

 

~ Happy Birthday is NOT a simple tune to sing!  How many times have you heard it massacred at parties and restaurants by adults?   The octave leap gets almost everyone...

 

~ Pitching notes from a piano can be extremely difficult for some - the piano has a very different timbre from the human voice.   Matching the pitch of something that sounds like you - ie another human voice, should always be the starting point.   Children don't learn to speak by listening to, and imitating, a mechanical voice.

 

smile.png


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#29 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 03 March 2019 - 08:12

~ Happy Birthday is NOT a simple tune to sing! 

I suggested it simply because I thought it would be both familiar to a child that age and also a song that they would be likely to sing willingly.

The OP was stumped and might have got some kind of clearer idea from it, whether the child sang it well or badly.


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#30 HelenVJ

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Posted 03 March 2019 - 10:37

As the OP's student is having problems pitching below G, to attempt Happy Birthday would take the pitch to unrealistic heights! As Cyrilla said, it's not a useful choice of song - children have grown up hearing badly pitched versions in uncomfortable keys, and being unable to pitch it accuratey would hardly be an indication of tone-deafness ( amusia).

Very many useful suggestions have already been given - using another voice rather than the piano; starting with 2 notes and develop into animal noises and extending the range. Hopefully the OP has found these helpful.


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