All the news from Musical Futures International
Without lyrics and a melody, you haven't really got a song and therefore it's really important for students to feel confident to try out ideas vocally as they write their own songs.
We have rounded up 5 of our favourite pieces of advice for creating a positive ethos for singing and songwriting in class to help students to feel more confident in general with singing.
We have also provided a few video resources from the Musical Futures Find Your Voice program which was developed to increase confidence amongst teachers to lead singing activities with their classes and we will be sharing more of these in the next few months.
1) Don't always call it singing
Some students, particularly adolescents find the term singing a bit off-putting. This could be based on previous experience, associations of singing with primary school or a lack of confidence with changing voices for boys. Instead of branding activities as singing, incorporate and encourage any use of the voice including beat-boxing, humming, chanting, rapping, vocal percussion even whistling! The following video is one of a series designed to get started with beatboxing and you can find the rest here
2) Approximation and enthusiasm from the teacher goes a long way!
Having a go is better than being afraid to try and what better way to instil confidence than for the teachers to model, jam and join in. Use silly warm-ups and games to develop a sense of fun with vocal work in class.
The free resources developed as part of the Find Your Voice program includes a bank of vocal warm ups and ice breakers to start to slowly introduce vocal work with classes. The following is an example and you can find loads more warm ups and ice breakers here.
3) Use music as a 'safety net'
As our recent article about songwriting with backing tracks suggests, having some kind of accompaniment perhaps played on piano or guitar by the teacher or using a backing track as you sing or compose helps students feel far less exposed than when singing alone.
Our latest free e-book, available to anyone who signs up to our mailing list, contains free backing tracks and play along videos in different musical styles as well as ideas for using Soundtrap to incorporate music tech to support singing and songwriting. Sign up here to get hold of your copy today!
5) Integrate student choice
The Musical Futures Informal Learning model places student choice at its very heart and there's no reason why this can't apply to singing as well. Revisit Lucy Green's informal learning principles and why not try our Find Your Voice whole class 4-chord mash up activity where students perform and record their own accompaniment to create medleys and mash ups from songs of their choice.
A note about the role of the teacher. The guidance for teachers that is threaded through Musical Futures is something that every single teacher can try no matter where or what they are teaching.
It asks that first the teacher stands back and observes, empathises with the outcomes that students set for themselves and helps THEM to find ways to get there rather than laying out the path in front of them for them to follow.
It asks that they model instead of tell, play with and for the students so that the music surrounds the learning and the teaching comes from the music itself.
This can be a real challenge - allowing students time and space to show what they already know and to show how they can find solutions and answers without being told, especially when it comes to singing.
However, the sense of ownership and empowerment that results is one that requires a 2-way transfer of learning and creating a happy and positive ethos towards singing and vocal work in the classroom is an exciting and important aspect of helping students along the way to writing and performing songs of their own.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.