Yes, Anyone Can Learn to Sing!
By Joani Slawson, Lower School Music Teacher
Singing has always been a part of my life. When I was a child, I loved to sing with my family. I was thrilled to hear my older sisters sing and I tried to imitate their beautiful voices. I was very fortunate to have such wonderful vocal models. All through high school and college, I learned very specific and academic vocal technique. When I began my teaching career in elementary school, I thought that young students wouldn’t be able to understand basic vocal technique. Boy, was I wrong! Just like I imitated my older sisters’ great vocal technique, young singers can’t wait to learn how to use their own voices! In my experience, when students learn to use their voices at a young age, they are more willing to sing when they reach pre-adolescence.
Research out of Northwestern University (“Science Daily,” February 2015) suggests that singing accurately is not so much a talent but a learned skill that can decline over time if not used.“Singing on key is likely easier for some people than others but it’s also a skill that can be taught and developed, and much of it has to with using the voice regularly,” said Steven Demorest, lead researcher at Northwestern’s Bienen School of Music.Zoltan Kodaly, expert composer and music educator, realized this long before the current research, “If we ourselves sing often, this provides a deep experience of happiness in music. Through our own music activities, we learn the pulsation, rhythm, and shape of melody. The enjoyment given encourages the study of instruments and the listening to other pieces of music as well.”
Research has shown that singing has benefits throughout a person’s life:
Singing develops the lungs and gives you better posture.
Several studies have shown that the calming effect of singing can decrease blood pressure.
Singing improves brain function.
Singing improves your memory.
Singing in a choir can help you feel more connected to people and an appreciation of other cultures.
Here are some tips to encourage students to sing:
Young students need to sing simple songs with limited ranges. Nursery rhymes and simple folk songs are great for young voices. For example, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and “Lightly Row.”
Encourage students to make up their own songs and/or change the lyrics to simple songs they already know.
Adding movements to song can also encourage singing and help students remember words to songs.
As students get older, encourage them to join a choir at school or church.
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