Start with the Voices

“Tell your truth, find your voice, sing your song.”  Unknown

From the beginning of our life to the end of our life we express ourselves with our voices. At the beginning we experiment with our voices until it becomes speech and we communicate verbally, as well as with our body, from the beginning also. Crying babies get attention. They get fed or changed or held. In music, naturally, we also begin with our voices. This is an easy lesson that most get very quickly. They use these voice all of the time. Basically, we are just teaching them the labels of the different voices; making them aware of them. Here are some practice games that I use to help the students be aware of the labels for the different voices.

The five voices that I teach are whispering, talking, singing, calling and inner. The last is quite important for music in several ways. Music uses the inner voice to count rhythms as we sing or play. It uses the inner voice to stay in tune and sing or play with good sound. Music uses it to count times when we are silent while others play or sing. There are more reasons to use our inner voice to make music than we have time to explain. So, it’s important for children to recognize this voice from the beginning.  All of the other voices are part of our everyday life and you can invent games or use everyday activities to point out these voices. Below are some suggestions for games and opportunities to briefly reinforce the label for these voices.

I Love You Game.- Hug your child and whisper “I love you”, then tell them to whisper “I love you.”. Do this with your child for talking, and singing, also. Then tell them that you are going to say “I love you” in your head, but be silent on the outside, using your inner voice, and that they should say it inside their own head while you are hugging. Call it the “I love you” hug. Afterwards, ask them if they said “I love you” in their head while you hugged. If they tell you they did, smile and congratulate them for using their inner voice.  (If they don’t get this right away just keep practicing it.)

Calling voice is best used outside. It is sometimes called their Outside voice because of this. I usually teach this in the classroom by having them call good morning (or afternoon) to the teacher. But you can use this label on the playground or in a park by telling them to call to you if they need your attention. It is also a good time to reinforce the difference between calling and talking, by having them call to you when they are farther away from you and talk when they are close to you. After being at the park (or anywhere, really), on the way home in the car, you can talk to them about the different voices they used that day; whispering to their friend, calling to you from the playground, talking to you as they paused for a snack break, singing with a song on the way to the park, the inner voice “I love you.” hug they gave you before they ran off with their friends.

The volume and the quality these voices have are the very beginnings of dynamics (how loud a song is performed) in music. In our Amarant Music series all of this is taught and reinforced with a weekly video and four days of games and songs to teach all that I have described here. Please visit our website and learn about the exciting things we have to offer for homeschoolers or anybody wanting a comprehensive education in music.

 

Solfeggio – Should We Teach this to Young Children?

Solfeggio is the do-re-mi of music. You remember the song Do-Re-Mi from the movie Sound of Music? That song is a great example of the use of solfeggio. (If you haven’t heard it, by all means, find it and listen to it. It is so fun.) Maria, from the movie, teaches the children she is in charge of how to sing using do-re-mi. Solfeggio can be very complicated, there is a movable and fixed solfeggio that can get really complicate, but for our purposes we are going to start simple. So, the answer to the question in the title, is – of course.  If we start young it gives us the ability to get complicated later.

  1. Higher and Lower. Solfeggio is just the singing version of intervals (please see my  blogs Teaching Intervals – Part 1 and 2). Do to Do is an octave and Do to So is a 5th. We start teaching solfeggio the same way we start teaching intervals, with higher and lower.  In solfeggio we start with simple songs that are written with just Mi and So. They are very simple and we start by singing them together, getting them into our ears. Get out your xylophone and play the fifth note. It is a So. Then play the Mi, which is the 3rd note from the bottom. Play with these notes letting your child build a song with them. When they have played a bit with just these two notes, start by asking them to play the note that is higher (So/5th), then the lower one (mi/3rd). Make a game of it. When your child can play this game and get them right most of the time, switch. You play the note and sing So and let them show you with their body if it is higher or lower. Then do the same with Mi. Again, make it a game and have fun with it.
  2. Sing and improvise songs with So and Mi. Now we can really have fun with these two notes. Play and sing a 4 note combination of Mi and So and have them repeat it after you, then trade places. Let them sing and play combinations of 4 notes and you repeat after them. Make sure to praise their little songs. Tell them that they are writing their own songs. Go on to let them put together four of the four note groups and sing and play their songs to them with Mi and So and maybe even make up some words to go them. Have fun playing and singing these small songs with your child. Bond with them.

 

Amarant Education has these and other steps built in to our videos. We even start to teach Kodaly hand signs with the Mi and So, we add La and we teach the notes on the staff for all intervals.  If you would like our music education system for 40% off our opening price please see our Kickstarter.