"If one were to attempt to express the essence of this education in one word, it would only be - singing."
Singing is the foundation of any Kodály-inspired classroom. In the elementary school, from the time Kindergarteners step into our rooms on the first day of school until the time fifth or sixth graders leave us on the last day of school, we are exploring or voices and singing as much as we can!
In the spirit of Kodály's quote, I will share strategies to keep your kids singing as much as possible!
- Have students come into the room singing. This way, the beginning of music class starts musically, gets them immediately engaged, and keeps them singing!
- Have students sing from point A to point B. Instead of just saying, "Everyone get into a circle," or "Everyone go back to your seats," you can have them sing a song as they are moving. This is something they will need some training and experience with--many students will feel a need to talk instead of singing!
- Similar to above, instead of having them sing aloud back to their seats, you could either have them "loo" the song (sing the melody, but all on the word "loo") or have them sing inside their heads. I love doing this, because when a student talks instead of singing inside his/her head, we can have a talk about how it is impossible to both sing inside your head and have a conversation aloud! This strategy is a great way to improve their inner hearing! (Thank you to Bruce Swank for these two strategies!)
- Another great inner hearing activity that improves their singing is the use of puppets. One of my favorite puppets is "Donnie the Dinosaur" (click the picture below to purchase it on Folkmanis!)
When Donnie is outside the shell, students sing like normal, but when he goes inside his shell, students have to sing inside their heads. Students LOVE this activity; I even have my upper elementary kids take turns being Donnie. My student teacher just used this puppet to help first graders with one of their program songs and it really helped them solidify their singing of the song. There are a few other puppets that you could also use for this, all of which you can purchase by clicking on the picture (can you tell how much I love Folkmanis puppets!??!)
Bear in a tree trunk:
A barrel full of...one monkey! The lid even closes when he's inside the barrel!
A raccoon in a trash can...seriously so cute!
This one could double as an inner hearing puppet and a puppet for "Snail Snail"!
- In the younger grades, have students explore their voices at some point in every music class. There are so many great resources for vocal exploration (and it just occurred to me, this might be a great idea for my next blog post!) so I will save those ideas for next time I blog! I will say that the vocal exploration could be short--students pretend to throw a frisbee or a snowball, students make animal sounds like a rooster or wolf, or you could have students explore their voices with a picture book.
- Have high expectations. If your students sing incorrectly and you don't correct it, they will keep singing it incorrectly. If I notice my students making a mistake, I model what they are doing and then what it should sound like. If my students are not singing well while playing a game or playing instruments, I stop the game or instrument playing until they sing well. These high expectations help develop their accuracy and pitch-matching.
- Be mindful of how much you are singing with your students. We all love to sing, so it can be hard to not sing along with them! But sometimes they are depend too much on us, so it is good to back out and see if they can still hold it together!
- Include songs in your lessons that students have to sing over and over again...the more they sing, the better! One of my favorites is "Paw Paw Patch," shown below:
Come on boys, let’s go find her (x 3)
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.
Pickin’ up paw paws, put ‘em in your pocket (x3)
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.
For the dance, students stand in a longways set, preferably girls partnered up with boys. On the first verse, the girl at the head of the girl set skips around both sets back to her spot.
On the second verse, the boy at the head of the boy set leads the boys around (like a tall, narrow oval—not all the way around the girl set) so that all boys end up in the same position.
On the third verse, students peel the orange, so that the head couple is now at the bottom of the set. Keep dancing and singing!
I hope you found some useful strategies! If you have other singing strategies, please share your ideas in the comments below. Have fun singing with your students!