One of the most difficult things to do as a male music teacher working with primary learners is demonstrating a singing voice and having them match pitch. I do a lot of singing and playing and tend to use my falsetto voice a lot. At the primary age, it is difficult for them to displace the octave necessitating the use of my falsetto voice. They know that it isn’t natural for me, a grown man, to be singing that high, and many of them will use a squeaky voice to try and “match” what they think I am doing. Even though I explain to them that this not my natural singing voice and that theirs is much higher than mine, they just simply aren’t ready to understand this concept. There are a few things that you might try as a male music teacher in primary grades to help your young learners match pitch besides using your falsetto voice that they will understand and be successful with.
Get a Student to Demonstrate
This can be the most effective way to help a young music learner find their singing voice. I especially love it when a boy can demonstrate a nice singing voice because then the boys in the room can begin to understand that they too can sing like this. I do find that boys tend to think that they have to sing lower just because they are boys. When any learner can demonstrate a great singing voice, every learner immediately comes closer to finding their voice too.
Use an Accompaniment Instrument
Any traditional accompaniment instrument will do. I play guitar, but ukulele, and piano will work just fine for this. I have them try and “match the guitar sound” and I might play the melody on the instrument to give them a chance to try and follow along with the melody line.
Use a Recorder
A recorder is right in the ideal singing range of a primary learner. Use it to demonstrate a nice singing voice. A well-made wooden or plastic recorder can have a very nice, gentle sound that is pleasing to the ear. It mimics the sound of a child’s singing voice.
Use a Lighter Singing Voice
Instead of a falsetto voice, try using a lighter sounding head voice. Sometimes these young learners just need to hear what a head voice sounds like.
Elementary-aged learners have the ability to understand octave displacement and can understand the concept of falsetto vs. my regular singing voice. I find that I use my falsetto voice much less often with elementary-aged students.
However you decide to teach this valuable concept, it should always come from the understanding that all children can sing. They may not find their voice in Kindergarten, or even in Grade 4, but with practice, they will find it.
Until next time, Happy Musicking!