Teaching (VERY) Young Children – a cheat sheet*

Teaching (VERY) Young Children – a cheat sheet*

CAVEAT:  if you don’t want to teach very young children, THAT’S SUPER-FINE BY ME. You just don’t get to judge those of us who choose to do so. mmmkay? (Also, this particular blog post may not be the one for you. And? If you happen to be of the opinion that teaching young children to sing is somehow detrimental or unhealthy, please take a look at this 2003 position paper by the American Academy of Teachers of Singing. thankyouverymuchokaybye)

And if you’re considering teaching very young children, here are a few things to get you started. Or maybe to give you some new ideas. You know, if you’ve been teaching children for a long time anyway.  Which many of you have. Because: HELLO IDEAL CLIENT FOR MANY INDEPENDENT VOICE TEACHERS.

clearly, i am an ideal cat. however, i am not an ideal cat for every hooman on the planet. because: so fluffy. AND THAT IS OKAY. it is okay to say: I DO NOT WANT A FLUFFY CAT BECAUSE I DO NOT LIKE CLEANING DUST BUNNIES THE SIZE OF TEXAS OUT FROM UNDER MY BED EVERY DAY. AND ALSO: HAIRBALLS. I DO NOT LIKE HAIRBALLS. this does not mean that you get to tell people who DO seem to enjoy cleaning dust bunnies the size of texas out from under their bed every day that they are doing pet ownership wrong. even if they also appear to enjoy cleaning up hairballs. EVEN THEN.

thing the first: resources & curriculum

Look. If you want resources? You should really just stop reading this right now and go over to The Full Voice website. (I know, I KNOW: who tells their blog readers to stop reading? hello …? hellooooo? I’ll just keep going for anyone who may come back. Because: I’m a giver.)  You’re going to find FREE resources over there (you know, if you haven’t already), including downloadables, webinars, a podcast series, and – THE BE-ALL AND END-ALL: a curriculum.

You know. That thing that piano teachers have about a million to choose from? YEAH. THAT. A curriculum that will help you guide your students through learning to read music, learning ear training, learning rhythm training, learning sight singing, tonic sol-fa, etc., etc., ET CETERA. Order the entire teacher package and get a discount. You will not be disappointed. PINKYSWEAR.

what’s this i see? you came back? it was the promise of more cat pictures, wasn’t it? i thought so.

thing the second: community

Guess what? There is an online FaceBook Group (that was started by Nikki Loney (yes … she’s one of The Full Voice people. and, yes … she’s pretty freaking committed to teaching young singers AND to making sure everyone else who wants to has ALL THE THINGS THEY NEED TO DO SO WELL) and Dana Lentini) that is just for people who teach singing to young people. You can ask ANY OLD QUESTION you want (well, maybe not ANY OLD QUESTION … keeping your questions relevant to teaching young singers will most likely NOT result in you getting kicked out of the group so … there’s that) and chances are HIGH you’re going to get some great answers to your question. It’s a super-supportive community for YOU, oh teacher of young singers, and it is called: Voice Teachers for Young Singers. (Because, OF COURSE IT IS.) Go ahead and join up; tell ’em I sent ya’.

we’re the black-tabby-cat-group. see how our name perfectly reflects who we are? we are very smart cats for naming ourselves that.

thing the third: repertoire choices

Okay, so … choosing repertoire for young singers can be tricky. I GET IT (and I also know it’s easy to not do it well) so here are two options options to help:

The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Syllabus:  It’s online. It’s free. It’s downloadable. It’s searchable. It’s been around for, like, a hundred years (ie it’s been tested by teachers for a long time). It’s updated every decade or so (the next one is scheduled to come out in 2019).  AND? There’s TONNES OF CANADIAN CONTENT (y’all know I’m Canadian, right? Check out Donna Rhodenizer‘s stuff especially. It’s kind of the bomb.). What could be better?

Weeelllll … there are perhaps a few things that could be better. Given that the RCM Syllabus tends not to include contemporary music theatre repertoire (and by “tends not to”, I mean “absolutely does not”), or any CCM (that’s Contemporary Commercial Music, not Contemporary Christian Music. Although, the RCM Syllabus doesn’t include any Contemporary Christian Music, either, come to think of it …), you might want to beef up your repertoire choice resources with something like Nate Plummer’s Musical Theatre Repertoire Guide for Kids. I mean, when someone takes the time to organize over three-hundred songs into twelve lists with titles like: “Golden Age for Girls Under 12”? YOU INVEST IN THAT. Because it’s going to make the choosing-repertoire-for-young-singers part of your teaching life SO MUCH EASIER. YES. YES IT IS.

will these e-books make your teaching life easier? YES THEY WILL HOOMAN. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

thing the fourth: cultivating appropriate expectations & teaching methods

So, we all know intuitively that a six-year-old is not the same as a sixteen-year-old. But do we know how those differences may change our expectations for that six-year-old or our way of teaching that six-year-old? Because when we teach very young singers, we’re not just teaching little adults. Or, you know, small teenagers, are we? (The correct answer here, in case you’re wondering, is NO. NO, Shannon, we are not.) There are some really wonderful texts out there now that talk through child anatomy and physiology and how that anatomy and physiology (ie the actual vocal instrument) affects our expectations for what children can do. Jenevora Williams’s Teaching Singing to Children and Young Adults is a GREAT resource both for understanding the young vocal instrument and for getting ideas of how to implement that information in your daily teaching. I know, I KNOW: it’s a DVD + Book Combo. Do you even have a DVD player right now? Fear not: she’s written a BUNCH of fantastic articles that don’t require possibly outdated equipment to read. Try THIS ONE for a start.

the more you know, right hooman? you want to know what i wish i knew before i put these glasses on? THAT THEY WERE GOING TO MAKE MY EYES ALL SQUISHY. i wish i’d known that.

 

SO. There you have it. Four things to get you started (or to inspire you further!) on your path to teaching very young children to sing. Unless you don’t want to teach very young children to sing. Which, as we have already discussed, is TOTES FINE. YOU DO YOU AND ALL THAT JAZZ.

You can teach your face off … I can help.

*I thought about calling this post a ‘resource list’. But that doesn’t rhyme. Also: REBELLIOUS.

friday fav five – 18|3|9

friday fav five – 18|3|9

listylist the second (are we having fun yet?)

 

1. Favourite Blog Post: Actually, Your Mindset Doesn’t Matter by Michelle Markwart Deveaux

Think you’re up to choosing the red pill? GO ON THEN. DO THE THING.

go ahead and try to give me a pill, hooman. go ahead and try.

2. Favourite YouTube Series: “Singing Teachers Answer” with Karyn O’Connor

I mean, THERE ARE A LOT OF COOL THINGS ON THE INTERNETS THESE DAYS, but THIS SERIES? Is rocking my world. And I’ve only seen the first installment. WHAT? (Also, I may or may not have a little sumthin sumthin to say on one or two or four of these installments. #truestory) Subscribe to the series HERE.

[When someone takes the time to herd a whole bunch of incredible singing teachers into one video series? YOU GET ON BOARD WITH THAT. #amiright?]

3. Favourite Teaching Tool: The Singer’s Practice Journal by Nancy Bos

It’s inexpensive. It’s handy. It’s well-designed. It’s one-of-a-kind. It’s satisfyingly attractive. And? It just may be YOUR new favourite thing to gift to your students. (I bought one for all of my teen singers; the adults are on their own.)

[Don’t get me wrong: THERE ARE NO CAT PICTURES IN THE SINGER’S PRACTICE JOURNAL. But there IS space to draw your own. SHE THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING.]

 

4. Favourite Article: Lost Art of Bending Over – How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines by Michaeleen Doucleff

You need to not let the title of this article throw you off. DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY IT; THIS IS ABOUT YOUR SPINAL HEALTH. And I am seriously considering making the ‘How-To Table Bend’ exercise part of every one of my students’ daily warm ups … which they will write out in the space that is VERY CONVENIENTLY PROVIDED IN THEIR SINGER’S PRACTICE JOURNALS. (See what I did there?)

when i’m stretching, you look away hooman. LOOK. AH. WAY.

 

 

5. Favourite DIY Health & Hygiene Tool: How to Make a Steam Inhaler Jar from One Good Thing by Jillee

Haven’t quite scraped together the cash to buy a fancy-schmancy steamer yet? (Or, you know, asked for one for Christmas from your in-laws like I may or may not have done last year? #suchanerd #imintopracticalgifts) Well … don’t worry about it. For occasional steaming purposes, this sucker works like a charm. #pinkyswear

go ahead and try to clear my sinuses hooman. go ahead and try.

Happy Friday everyone!

You can teach your face off … I can help.

ps I inserted this post script to point out that I didn’t have any asterisks or post scripts in this post. #ICANDOITIFITRY (Probably those ALL CAPS aren’t going anywhere though.)

friday fav five – 18|3|2

friday fav five – 18|3|2

because there aren’t enough lists in the world*

Every Friday, you can now expect a -WAIT FOR IT- curated list of the best voice and voice pedagogy things I’ve seen all week.  I KNOW, RIGHT?

Let’s get going with the FIRST EVER Friday Favourite** Five (or Fri Fav Five (although … that fourth letter in “five” is driving me kind of crazy … but it looks too weird as Fri Fav Fiv, right? right.) … or FFF …)!

FOR THE LOVE, WOMAN: GET ON WITH IT.

 

1. Favourite Podcast Episode: What is Your Place in Singing with the incomparable Nancy Bos.

You guys, IF YOU ARE HUMAN, you need to listen to this podcast episode. It’s like a mini Tim Ferris Episode on SINGING. Seriously. If you ignore everything else on this list (I mean, why would you want to? But, you know, IF YOU DO.), please do yourself a favour** and listen to this episode.

someone dressed us like hoomans. may we listen to this podcast? also, GET US OUT OF THESE STUPID COSTUMES. WE ARE NOT YOUR PLAYTHINGS, HOOMAN. WE WILL KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP. unless you offer us treats. then we will hold off on your execution until the treats run out.

 

2. Favourite FB Live: The Eyes Have It with the incomparable Meribeth Dayme.

Need a little paradigm shift in LESS THAN EIGHT MINUTES? Here you go. (I LOVE her reasoning for not looking anyone directly in the eye when performing.)

i refuse to not stare directly into your eyes. i am a cat and I do not obey hoomans. even hoomans as incomparable as meribeth dayme.

 

3. Favourite Article: Do These Things After 6PM and Your Life Will Never Be the Same by Thomas Oppong.

Yeah. It’s a bit of a title, isn’t it? Also, I don’t know Thomas personally so I have no idea if he’s INCOMPARABLE or not (although, given that he’s HUMAN? I BET HE IS.). The gist? If you have a passion project, set aside one hour per day to work on it. Read the article to find out why and for ideas of how other people are doing it.

“passion project”? really? why can’t you be like a CAT? WORK LESS! SLEEP MORE!

 

4. Favourite YouTube Video: Absolute Best TMJ Treatment You Can Do for Yourself for Quick Relief with the two most famous physical therapists on the internet, Bob and Brad.

No. Seriously. You’re Welcome.

[I searched for “famous cat” on one of my favourite creative commons photo sites. And this came up. I have no idea what it is or what it means. #yourewelcome and #IllSeeYouInMyNightmares]

5. Favourite Blog Post: When To Tell a Student it is Time to Give Up by the incomparable Matt Edwards.

Looking for a little inspiration to get you through next week’s teaching? Or singing? Look no further.

[Here is a picture of a cute widdow white kitten kissing a cute widdow white puppy. Just to cleanse your palate from that last one. I am nothing if not generous. And also, concerned about whether you are able to sleep tonight.]

Have a great week! (OH! And if you haven’t already, you can sign up to get my blog delivered RIGHT TO YOUR INBOX by entering your email address in the little ‘sign up here’ box.)

You can teach your face off … I can help.

*In my mind? Listiness is next to cleanliness. And we all know what cleanliness is next to. SO BRING ON THE LISTS.

**In Canada, we didn’t drop extra vowels from our words just because they got too cumbersome and unwieldy. NO WE DID NOT. WE ARE LOYAL TO OUR UNNECESSARY VOWELS.

 

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