Virtual Music Classroom

A Strategy for Teaching Songs to Elementary Children.


1. When you are teaching a song to children, provide several opportunities for them to hear the song before they ever try to sing it. This can be done by either the teacher singing the song for the students or by listening to a recording of it.

You can often tell students are ready to learn the song if they mouth the words or try to sing along while listening.

2. Before actually teaching the song, ask children to listen very carefully to the song one more time through, noticing parts of the song that are the same or different from each other. For example, in "Here Comes a Bluebird" ask: "Is the melody to the words 'Here comes a bluebird' repeated to other words in the song?" (Ans.- yes "in through my window" is the same.)

3. Sing the song 1 phrase at a time, asking the children to sing after you each time. Point to the class each time it is their turn. e.g.,
- teacher "Here comes a bluebird " (point to class)
- class "Here comes a bluebird"
- teacher "in through my window" (point to class)
- class "in through my window"
- teacher "Hey, diddle-um-a" (point to class)
- class "Hey, diddle-um-a"
- teacher "day, day, day!" (point to class)
- class "day, day, day!" etc.
Be sure NOT to sing out loud when the class is singing, otherwise the students tend to try to listen to the teacher rather than singing themselves, and sing only half heartedly.

4. Repeat this process doubling up the phrases, e.g.,
- teacher "Here comes a Bluebird in through my window" (point to class)
- class "Here comes a Bluebird in through my window"
- teacher "Hey, diddle-um-a day, day, day!" (point to class)
- class "Hey, diddle-um-a day,day,day!" etc.

5. Sing the complete song, ask class to repeat it all - teacher mouthing the words, BUT NOT SINGING OUTLOUD to support class.

6. Finally allow class to sing alone with no support. When starting the song, tap the beat ( two fingers in the palm is a good way) and then sing the words "Ready, SING!" to the starting note of the song. Do NOT count outloud unless you are sure of yourself and the metre of the song. Counting "1, 2, 3..." before singing, is often more confusing than helpful, unless the song is in 3/4 time

When you are comfortable with this process for teaching a song and do it easily and automatically, try this variation:

Use the process above, but each time the teacher sings a phrase, ask students to sing the phrase back SILENTLY in their MINDS before singing aloud. Help them remember to wait and sing internally by pointing at your ear to the beat after teacher sings, then point to class when it is time to sing aloud.

HINTS for Starting a Song All Together
with your CLASS

Whenever starting to sing a song the class knows, REMEMBER to tap the beat for at least 2 beats and then sing "Ready, SING!" to beat, on the starting note of the song. If the teacher is uncomfortable doing this, use a pitch pipe or piano to play the beginning note and then tap the beat and say the words. Whatever methods you use, it is ESSENTIAL to give a starting note before students begin singing.

Also, it is better if you DO NOT count the song in unless you feel comfortable that you know what the meter is and which beat the song starts on.

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