Most children of Primary School age have a limited voice range. Very few have mature voices by Year 6. Songs, therefore, need to be suitable for their voices. A good rule of thumb is to choose songs which range from MC to E’. When songs are too low, voices seem to come from their boots while high notes are screeched. The throat must be relaxed otherwise high notes are squeezed and this often results in going off key. Children love the latest pop songs. Often they are learnt by listening to the radio or CD and watching TV and films when the singer puts his / her own variations in and as a result the song is not always learnt correctly. It is very difficult to undo learned habits so it is best to avoid these songs and introduce more suitable pieces.
Once pitch, breathing and diction have been established, teach the basic dynamics of music such as (crescendo) - becoming louder; (diminuendo) becoming softer. mf / mp - moderately loud / soft; f - forte = loud, ff - fortissimo = very loud, p - piano = soft, pp - pianissimo = very soft. Children should also learn to read music - at least the notes of the treble clef.
Notes values are important as are key and time signatures. Teach these incidentally and apply as required but DO NOT MAKE IT A DRUDGE. That will turn children - and the teacher - off music and we must avoid that.
When singing the singers must learn to listen to each other. If they cannot hear the person(s) next to them they are singing too loudly. With choirs the sound should be as one voice - all voices blending and no dominant voice being heard.
Two very good “warm-up” songs are:-
Doh - Ray - Me from “The Sound of Music”
and “Amazing Grace” - verse 1.
These songs have very good progression of notes and intervals.
All the best to everyone. Music is such an important part of our overall education and teaching it and conducting choirs can be very rewarding.