Reply To: pitch discrimination whoas

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I’ve had a few students like this (even though I’m female and sing in the same octave as them); they usually grow out of it after a few months. Maybe the timbre of your voice is throwing him off, since it’s a lot different from the timbre of his own voice or the other children’s. You didn’t mention this and maybe you are already doing this, but try to back off from singing with the students as much as you can (this is good advice whether you are male or female!). Does he sing up an octave when it’s just the other kids singing with him? Maybe if he hears more of other kids’ voices as a model to imitate, he might grow out of what he’s doing or figure out on his own that he’s not matching. Try not to sing “with” the students as much as possible. After demonstrating a song several times, have the students sing on particular phrases while you drop out. Continue until the students have caught the entire song and can sing it w/o your help (or maybe just help on the first word of a phrase where it’s needed here and there) and then drop back out.

Also, occasionally give the students a chance to sing by themselves, even if it’s just echoing pattern, singing a short phrase in an echo song, or singing a short song by themselves. When a student is right on pitch in the correct octave, and it’s not interfering with the flow of the lesson to do so, point out that that student did an excellent job of matching the notes. (For the others who aren’t matching yet, I think the best way to acknowledge their singing by themselves is to just give them a “thank you.”) If they get more of a chance to sing alone, it may be easier for them to hear that their voice isn’t matching and make adjustments.

Also, you can try same/different games–in between repetitions of a song, you would sing 2 patterns of pitches (I hold up 1 finger for the first pattern, then take a breath and hold up and 2 fingers for the second pattern, so the student know when the new pattern starts). The students have to show whether the patterns are the same or different with hand signs: 2 closed fists for “same” or one fist and one open hand to indicate “different.” You could include patterns on a neutral syllable like “bum” or “loo”, or you could also use short phrases of a song you’re learning using the words of the song (sing the same rhythm but different pitches). Occasionally include example where one pattern is an octave above or below the other. If you point out that these 2 phrases are different, that might bring awareness to the student that what he’s doing isn’t really matching without singling him out and making him self-conscious.