All right, so the other day when I was writing about my Current Projects, I mentioned the voice lesson binder that I had finished up. Well, it isn’t exactly finished yet, as you will see.
The first thing I did was fill up the binder with kid-friendly songs like “Let It Go” and “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” Then I supplemented those with songs that had a limited range, just to give the students a way to have immediate success matching pitch. (I have found that almost anyone can match pitch, as long as the music is in their range. Some ranges are very limited, and so it sounds like the person is always singing off-pitch. This usually has nothing to do with a person’s “ear” and everything to do with range.) Thankfully, I have a transposition button on my piano, so I can reuse the same songs for students with very different ranges.
Next, I Googled “how to teach voice lessons” or something similar. I have taught hundreds of voice lessons in the past, but because it has been a few years, I didn’t want to miss anything important. I typed up the things I thought were important, adding a couple things and deleting a couple things, and rearranging the activities to work for short attention spans. Here’s what I ended up with:
Voice Lesson Format (Word)
Voice Lesson Format (PDF)
If you teach a choir, you could use this format for that as well.
I have been using some of the same warm-ups with my choir for years. I usually have my students begin with a hum, descend for five notes, and then hum back up to the starting pitch. Then we start the exercise again, starting a half-step lower each time.
The ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma denotes a five-note scale ascending and descending. I usually ascend by half-steps with each repetition. Alternatively, you could change this one up and use other syllables, or even a silly phrase: mommy made me mash my M&M’s.
Siren is just what is sounds like. Students imitate a yawn to open the back of the throat. Then they wail up and down a couple of times, reaching very high and ending with a vocal fry as low as they can go. The most important thing to remember with this exercise (and with any vocal exercise) is not to strain the voice at all. I always tell my students, if anything hurts or feels strained, stop immediately.
Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha denotes a staccato major chord arpeggio. I always wait until after the siren before using this exercise, as students can usually sing quite high with these. The siren helps warm up the voice for the higher pitches.
On the back of the lesson format page, I designated a place for student names and ranges (with dates – so I can see how they progress). As I gain more students, I will probably make a page for each one so I can list songs they are working on, vocal exercises, etc. So you see, I will never be quite done with this project. 🙂
Last of all, I found a nice cartoon pic of kids singing online and printed it on the top half of a sheet of paper. I borrowed some awesome colored pens from my sister (thanks, sis!) and wrote “VOICE LESSONS” in big block letters underneath, using a different color for each letter. So now the folder looks appealing and is ready to go to work for me and my students!