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...
How to explain pitching a note to a Year 1
Posted 20 February 2019 - 17:08
I'd forget specific notes at the moment and go back a bit further. Does the child sing at all? Does he sing a recognisable melody? Most children of this age do. Does his voice go up and down when he speaks? Does he have a hearing problem?
Can he make different animal noises which vary in pitch? Growl like a dog? Or perhaps squeek like a door?
Posted 20 February 2019 - 17:17
I don't think he has a hearing problem, nothing obvious anyway. I teach him at the primary where my own kids go so I know they do do a fair bit of singing and the music teaching is quite detailed (I'll never forget my youngest son coming out with "that's a crescendo!" aged 4, while I was doing some music with his elder brother!)
I haven't asked him to sing anything unrelated to what he's playing (which is just C and D at the moment) so I will try that. I think his voice does change pitch while speaking because I think I would've noticed if it had been a monotone, but I will listen more carefully when we go back next week!
Posted 20 February 2019 - 17:17
I have several things I try. I do the two tone siren with them - high notes and low notes. Then I get them to match my voice. Then I play a note on the piano, get them listen to me singing various notes (different ones) around it and get them to put their hand up when my voice matches the piano note.
I am sure Cyrilla will have better advice, but that is the way I do it and it usually works.
It is down to a woeful lack of music education in schools though, and I feel confident in saying that as it has got worse and worse. Plus many pop songs nowadays aren't very lyrical and the "tune" is based on two or three notes.
Posted 20 February 2019 - 18:01
It's not unusual for a six-year-old not to be able to sing middle C. It's at the lower end of their range and some of them can't reach it. What is the pitch or his speaking voice? Also, if he really has done no singing, he may not understand the concept of pitch-matching with voice.
You could try getting him to sing a simple song with only two notes - eg cobbler cobbler or I like coffee. Start around G/E for the so/mi pitches. It might take a little while. Or even just sing some phrases using so and mi - hello Oliver - hello Splog - How are you? Fine thanks. Once he can do this, bring the pitch down.
also, as ma non troppo has suggested, some sirening, or even the taunting "nya nya nya nya nya" - kids love to sing that.
Posted 20 February 2019 - 23:00
My advice would be to forget where you want him to be for the moment and start where he is. If its a question of wanting him to sing what he is playing then I would suggest that you sing at the right pitch and let him sing where he can for the moment. It's certainly not uncommon for children of that age to have difficulty in singing a specific note or a short phrase. I think we just have to do as much singing as we can and eventually they do learn to pitch. I'd go for songs and rhymes and short call and imitate phrases such as Splog suggests. I've often found the falling minor third from G to E is something many young children can manage.
Posted 21 February 2019 - 00:00
Very good advice above .
Definitely start from 'where he is'. A problem that a lot of children have is that they are unaware if they are singing the same pitch or a different pitch. So try singing, as Splog suggests, 'Hello, Christopher' (to s-m-ss-m, probably on G-E) and he sings back, 'Hello, Victoria'. Ask him if he thinks he was the same pitch as you or not. Then ask him to sing hello to you - and you answer on a very much higher or lower pitch than him, then ask the same question. (I think I'm going to have a T-shirt with the words, 'Was it the same or was it different?' printed on it ). If he can't say, then tell him you were higher/lower. Then say that this time you will try to match his pitch and do so - to lots of 'yay, we were the same pitch that time!'.
Songs like See-Saw are very good because you can make the see-saw by facing him and joining outstretched hands, that move in time with the pulse as you sing - and the task is to copy the pitch of your partner. If he can't match you, then you match him to begin with until he realises what 'the same pitch' feels like/sounds like.
Children like the idea of catching the adult out! So perhaps try the 'you sing hello to me now on a different pitch - see how hard you can make it for me to match you.' 'How high can you sing it? How low can you sing it?'
A young child has a rather different experience of what high/low means to us. We mean more vibrations per second - they mean 'up there'. I once sang hello on two different pitches (i.e. different keys) to a reception class and asked them what was different about the second hello. 'You changed channels!' said one . The next week I did the same thing again and a child said, 'it was lighter.' I asked, 'What do you mean, it was lighter?' and he lifted his hand up and said, 'it went like this' - so for him, it was purely a vocabulary problem. Lighter, like a balloon goes up...so your voice goes up like a balloon...all perfectly logical, but you only discover what the child is thinking by asking such questions.
I use puppets, Foxy and Barney. Foxy sings with a high voice and Barney sings with a low voice. I hold the Foxy puppet high and the Barney puppet low down. This time the child sings 'Hello, Foxy' or 'Hello, Barney', whichever puppet he thinks sang to him. First I move the puppet who is singing, then later I don't, so there is no visual clue. And I will repeat the hello on the same pitch two or three times, so that the child doesn't just expect 'if it was Foxy that time it will be Barney next time'. Often children will answer e.g. Foxy with a low voice, which prompts one of my favourite sayings - 'Sing it in your Foxy voice' .
Ah - I just re-read your post and am wondering if you're trying to get him to pitch notes from the piano or from your voice? Pitching from a piano is VERY much harder because the timbre is so different - far easier to copy something that sounds like you!
Posted 21 February 2019 - 07:37
You've got some great advice above which I agree with wholeheartedly. Middle C is a low note for a 6 year old; so often when you hear young children being taught to "sing" something and half the class is in a monotone it is because the pitch is too low. If they are near their speaking voices they don't always find "how" to sing at that pitch. This child clearly knows how to find a singing tone - great! Get him to sing patterns where he can sing; and if you want to match C and D try to move him up an octave and I suspect you'll get a good result.
Posted 21 February 2019 - 07:59
Going back to my earlier post on this thread, the reason I started with animal noises instead of singing notes, is that I've worked with children who hated getting things wrong (almost terrified of seeing their teacher's face drop) and had a complete block after a couple unsuccessful tries at doing what the teacher seemingly wanted. Changing the goal to something very different sometimes starts the child off on a new tack.
Different situation - I've had youngsters with varying disabilites who were so used to 'not being able to do whatever was expected of the others in the group' that they hardly realised that this was something that they could learn too. They just had to go at it from another angle.
Most kids here seem to know the three tone horn of the post buses on narrow roads before they can talk. Di da do, di da do. Which makes everyone get out of their way!
Posted 21 February 2019 - 08:45
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.
Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:07
Granpiano, great idea to get kids to make animal noises. They are they internalising and reproducing what they hear which is critical for their musical development. They are also developing the voice physically by working many aspects of the vocal mechanism . But also, some of the animal sounds - eg moo, quack, puppy whine - are used to make certain effects in singing.
stringfellow, my sympathies. I have only had one student who refused to sing - trumpet student rather than singing - and she was happy to take a drop in her aural tests. Replies to "I don't like singing" can vary. I'm afraid my usual response to that sort of nonsense is "I don't care" but that may not always work.
If they are young, maybe under about 12, then it is easier to encourage them. Be a bit more forceful but gentle, in the same way you would tell a young child to put down something breakable. A breezy, "sing this" ignoring their protests. If they will sing or hum with you, it's only a small step to singing on their own. Do you do any singing games?
I worked with some year 8 kids recently, many of whom refused to sing. I was expecting the too cool for school thing, but what shocked me was the number of them who genuinely believed that they couldn't sing. I turned some of them around but it was quite sad.
Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:54
Until he was about seven my son couldn't sing in tune or pitch a note to match another. Then one day he came home and said, "Mum, we learned a new song in school today," and proceeded to sing it perfectly - and it wasn't an easy one, either. When I complemented him he replied, "Yes, when I was younger my voice didn't have the right notes in it, but now it does!"
Posted 21 February 2019 - 22:24
I'm always very very matter-of-fact about singing. In my lesson it's just what you do!
I think it's terribly easy to say things like, 'Who's going to be brave and sing it on their own?' or, 'Don't be scared, just try it'. If you give the SLIGHTEST inclination that you think singing on your own is either difficult, or embarrassing, or scary, that will only fuel any insecurities the student already has.
Just do it. And accept whatever the student produces. But then guide and assist, but always in a very non-threatening and non-judgemental way.
I think the thing that made me the happiest, when I worked in The Best School Ever, was the fact that not one of the 450 4-11 year-olds wouldn't have sung on their own if I asked them to.
If the only time a child (or adult) sings on their own, it's in the context of being judged (e.g. aural tests) then it's hardly surprising it's not an enjoyable experience. And in the 'X-Factor culture' people consider you can only sing if you're 'talented'. And, as others have said, with the decline of singing in schools, it's something unfamiliar to many children.
However, once children perceive that singing - i.e. pitch-matching - is something that you can LEARN, just like anything else, you can turn a corner with them.
Children are so judged these days - endless targets and tests. However, this does mean that children understand that you can aim towards achieving something - and that this magical 'singing in tune' is just one of those things.
Posted 22 February 2019 - 09:34
I'm afraid that until recently I didn't know that pitching notes was something you could learn, and I suspect this is what a lot of people think. It seems crucial to present this to children as a learnable skill.
But how do I persuade my husband that it's something he can learn? 30 years of being told he can't sing has had a deep effect. I can see he just doesn't believe me when I say it's possible...after all, it's easy for me to say as I can already do it.
Posted 22 February 2019 - 10:48
Eureka, I was just like your husband. As a child I was told that not only could I not sing, but I would never be able to learn to sing. I started singing lessons when I was 50 and just before Christmas I passed my G8 Musical Theatre exam. It is perfectly possible to learn to sing as an adult!