May 30, 2019
– “Janice, please mouth the words for the holiday concert so you don’t throw the whole class off pitch.”
– “Honey, do you HAVE to hum while you’re cooking?”
– “MO-O-O-OM, when you sing that loud at church it is SO embarrassing!”
Any number of offhand comments can make us feel insecure about our singing, even decades later. (I still remember my 7th grade chorus teacher telling me, “Why don’t you play the piano – you’re a much better pianist than singer.” Ouch. That took me years of voice lessons and therapy to get over, and I’m still working on it!)
But there are lots of easy ways to get over vocal insecurity, whether you want to incorporate songs in your classroom, serenade a loved one, or have fun the next time your pals go to a karaoke bar. Emotions and mindset have a HUGE impact on our voices – and feeling insecure actually makes our voice sound bad. Try to think of it as talking on pitch – we can all talk! Like Harold Hill says in The Music Man, “singing is just sustained speaking”. (Although he was wrong about using ‘the think system’ to play the cornet . . . but I digress!) And when in doubt, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. It’s not you, it’s them
Pop songs are way too high for the normal person’s voice – and the typical adult has a lower range than young children, too. Plus remember most recordings have been through all sorts of auto-tune and other effects (sort of like remembering supermodels don’t look like that in real life either)
2. Take a deep breath – literally!
Breath support makes a huge difference, and of course when we feel insecure our breathing gets shallow. You’ll be amazed how much better your voice sounds when you have more support.
3. There’s more than cute kitten videos on YouTube
If you want some improvement, there are TONS of tutorials (or ask a friend). A little bit of warming up, coaching, or practicing can make a big difference!
4. When in doubt, ‘drown yourself out’ (or, there’s safety in numbers!)
Lyric videos are a great way to reinforce reading skills while the kids sing. Start with popular songs your students like (but preview the lyrics – off-color words pop up in the strangest places!) Then you can add in some content-specific songs to reinforce lesson plans, and your class will have developed a ‘sing-along’ habit, so you don’t have to worry about vocal solos.
Pretty soon, you will have unleashed your inner Katy Perry – or at least you’ll have a bit more fun with singing!
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