Submitted by Karen Stafford

Idea posted January 11, 2002

Some tricks I use:

I tell them to imagine themselves turning into a "conehead" to put the pitch in their heads.

Do a "slide" (yes, that might be something you'll have to break them of later, but for now, if it gets them there...). My voice teacher in college would make me whine like a dog, then sing from there down to do (whine, whine, whine, whine, so, fa, mi, re, do). For older kids, I tell them to pretend the teacher doesn't let them use the restroom for seven hours! Grosses them out, but it works to get them to use the stomach muscles.

One summer, I took flute and piccolo lessons from the piccoloist from the St. Louis Symphony. He told me that I should feel cool air when I breathe in. That meant my throat was open. I tell the kids now to have the "Cool Peppermint Patty sensation" when breathing in.

Have some good singing examples on CD!

I do pitch match challenges occasionally and actually let the kids try for extra credit. They sing something like "Mama made me mash my M&M's." For extra credit, they can choose to sing it correctly in front of the class or sing it correctly a capella. Amazingly enough, sometimes they do better singing a capella than they do with the piano! Maybe it's because they're concentrating more...

Hope these help some!