Choral Caffeine: Early Vocal Study
Date: November 13, 2013
Mention “vocal study” and many of us recall long hours in college practice rooms trying to crate consistent, semi-attractive sounds with a physical mechanism that just didn’t want to behave some days.
Would the process have been less daunting had it begun a little earlier? Sara Gaines suggests that just might be the case. In her article, “The Changing Voice: A Project for General Music in the Middle School,” she proposes ways to introduce some of the concepts of vocal study:
One might think this area of study is beyond the reach of middle school students, but that is not true. I have found that possessing a working knowledge of the structure and function of the vocal mechanism is useful for the maturing singer, middle school kids. This is particularly important for boys, some of whose voices seem to change during the course of one rehearsal! Knowledge of how the voice works and what change means is equally important for the girls, not only with respect to what’s happening to their voices but so that they better understand what is taking place with their male friends and acquaintances.
I include a unit on the vocal mechanism in my general music classes so that all middle schoolers in my building benefit from exposure to vital information. In the process of teaching this topic, I encourage non-singers to give singing another try as they begin to better understand the physiological changes they are undergoing.
Imagine how a high school or college choir might sound had they been introduced to vocal pedagogy in the middle level.
(For additional articles on a dazzling array of choral topics, visit ChorTeach.)