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Teaching singing--wait to teach songs?

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I read a few posts on here a while back about how important singing was because it's really the way that many people interact with music the most, and I thought that was a fair point.  So, I was inspired to find a way to *teach* my kids to sing.  I don't know that I was ever taught to sing, and I don't consider myself particularly good at it.  I looked for curriculum...and found very little.


I finally stumbled on Justine Ward's "That All May Sing" and it seemed possible.  I should point out that my children will likely need a LOT of teaching in this subject....and it's one I'm wishing I could outsource, but possibilities for that locally seem few.


Now, separate to that, I'd also like to do something like the Hymn Study.  I'm wondering, though, whether that should wait until after they've done a couple of years of Ward's program?  Or should I jump in with hymns whether they can sing well or not?  Ward suggests NOT introducing songs, as it just muddies things.  But Ward was writing curriculum for Catholic schools some few decades ago, not homeschooling parents now.


My concerns are:

If I wait, they'll just learn fewer hymns, though they might sing them better.

If I do introduce them now, maybe their singing will suffer for it?


So, any opinions?  Anybody familiar with Ward's suggestions? (I've only read a bit of the way into the first lesson set.)

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JMO, so feel free to take with a grain of salt...

Do you want your kids to experience the joy of music when they sing? Why not just sing yourself, and let them sing? If you want them to learn hymns, choose hymns when you sing to them at bed time, or for your waking up music, or whenever you normally fit music into your day. A program where they have to work for two years before they are allowed to sing a hymn sounds like a way to prevent singing from being fun! Also, one of the biggest problems with singing is people being self conscious and thinking they can't sing.  I think the key to overcoming this is to get them singing as young as possible, before they are old enough to be embarrassed or self-critical. If singing is just a natural part of family life, kids will naturally sing (just this morning, dh was reprimanding Ms. 11 for turning her math into a musical ;) ), and if they can always take lessons later on if they want to refine their skills and technique. 

WRT the Ward Method or other formal ways of learning, I am not saying they are necessarily a bad thing.  I'm just saying that formal instruction should be used in addition to every day fun singing, not instead of it, IYKWIM. Of course it is nice if your kids learn to sight read vocal scores. But it's not good if, in the process, they learn that singing is complicated and difficult, and should only be done by people having lessons.

Edited by IsabelC
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The best way to teach children to sing is to sing with them. Frequently, all kinds of songs, as normal part of life. It is much more important that they find joy in singing without being self conscious than that they master technique. You don't teach technique until they are preteens or older - but kids can learn songs since birth.

It does not require explicit "teaching" - repetition takes care of that. An elementary age kid can easily have a repertoire of several dozen or a hundred songs that are sung in the home. 


So, my advice would be: just sing. As part of daily life. Bedtime song at the end of day; songs for seasonal fests; children's songs, hymns at devotion time, folk songs. Sit down at the piano, you don't have to play well, gather the kids, and sing for an hour. That's how I learned to love singing, and that is what I apssed on to my kids.


If any kids are interested in formal training as singers, that can come later.


ETA: I think the advice not to let kids sing until they have been "taught" to sing well is very bad and detrimental. Imagine saying to a kid "No, you may not have fun with paints until you have taken a course in how to paint...". That is ridiculous. No musician family I know holds off music enjoyment until the kids have been instructed i theory - that is completely backwards.

Edited by regentrude
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The Ward Method is one of MANY ways to teach children to sing. It's goal is to teach music theory, composition, and conducting through vocal instruction. All worthy and noble goals, but not necessarily the only right way or even best way.


I can't think of any good reason to *not* allow them to sing songs until they've mastered the fundamentals. Most voice and instrumental lessons have a progression of songs along with the lessons so the student can practice a fun tune rather than just technique exercises. Unless I'm misunderstanding your description, and they do learn songs but advise against practicing with pop tunes or belting out Broadway or Jazz standards.


Even in Classical Ballet training, each individual step is put together in combinations so that the student can practice a series of "mini-dances" during each class... some are just class combinations, some are recognizable choreography from ballets.

Edited by Rebel Yell
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Sing songs.


Any kind of songs.


Here's a hint though, with children, see if you can find a cd with simple children singing hymns. This helps kids more than finding ones wiith more complex parts. We like Hymns for a Child's Heart.


My dh and I grew up singing hymns in church. As teens we moved into church choirs and learned about parts and harmonies. It was a natural easy way of learning music and singing. I still am utterly flummoxed that church people say they "can't sing." Yes, you sing with the hymn book in the congregation. Some people have clearer tones and more natural beauty to their voices, but I've learned that very few people just CAN'T sing.


Sing with easy tunes. Pop tunes might not be the best way to start.

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Rod and Staff has a curriculum that teaches singing.  I am looking at it.  It is teaching sol-fa.  I don't think it has support, though, so it may be dependent on a teacher who knows it.  Sorry if this is a rabbit trail, as I haven't used the program but am looking at it.

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I agree with the posters above. Just sing. Pick songs you like and sing with your kids. Find new songs on YouTube and sing along with them - then when you know the song, try singing without the video. Do it everyday. Make it fun. Learn to love it. When your kids stand around in the kitchen drying up dishes together while spontaneously singing the songs you are learning, you'll know you're winning.


Seriously, the biggest step is just learning songs and being confident enough to have a go at singing them.


I have just spent 3 days taking music classes at a kid's camp. Singing was one of the activities I had planned but it was incredible how many of the kids in the 11-13ish age group just won't sing. Whether they are too 'cool', lacking confidence or any singing experience, or just flat out think they can't sing (one of them told me that) probably varied from child to child but it was obvious that singing was not a regular activity for some.


My kids sing all the time. We sing around the table, in our together times. They sing together around the piano, in the kitchen, in the backyard on the swings, at the washing line, while doing chores BECAUSE we have always sung together. It's just part of our family culture: something we do together. Don't formalise it. Just make it fun and achievable 😊.

Edited by LindaOz
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