pitch discrimination whoas
October 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm #14097
OK folks I have a new one for you all. When I sing with primary aged kids, I use my falsetto about 90% of the time so that they aren’t trying to sing down and match my pitch. But, I’ve got a first grade boy who sings an octave higher than my falsetto (!) and he matches my pitch exactly to begin with, but then he is staying pretty much on that pitch the rest of the time. So if I’m on A4, he’s on A5. His range is great and it’s good that he can find the octave, but after about 16 measures of A5, me and the rest of the class are all suffering from ear strain 🙂 When I prompt him to “match me” and “go a little lower” or “a little higher” he might go a quarter stop lower or higher rather than a full step or a leap of a minor 3rd. I’m at a loss for this one because nothing I’ve tried works with him – what ever pitch we start on, he finds it an octave high and then stays there or very near there the whole song. It’s becoming a problem because other kids are plugging their ears or laughing at him. I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.October 22, 2012 at 3:38 pm #14098
*Woes not whoas.October 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm #14129
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.October 23, 2012 at 8:49 am #14138
Have you tried using CDs or other recorded music with his class? I know using recordings isn’t always ideal for many reasons, but an example of a female adult singing might help him hear where his voice should be. Echoing patterns in this manner too might help. Glissandos, sirens, or other vocal exploratory exercises could give him a better idea of the full range of his voice. John Feierabend has a lot of great ideas in his books. I personally like to use a slide whistle or speaking songs that utilize the voice in multiple ways- high pitched and low pitched.
And I like the title of your post. . . it is a little “whoa,” isn’t it?October 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm #14257
thanks to all for the suggestions. Some of them I already do, but I’ll try some of the others! cheers.October 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm #14272
I’d be willing to bet he sings at home. Ask him if he sings with his family….if appropriate ask if he sings with his dad (a lot of kids these days don’t have dads). If you sing in your octave, he’ll probably match properly because he’s used to singing an octave higher than an adult male.
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