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Teaching Kids to Sing {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

November 15, 2012

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I was in chorus from 8th grade through high school. It was during that time that I learned all I know about singing, choral sounds, scales, and music in general.  I enjoyed singing all the female parts – alto two through soprano one during my high school days.  I have assumed that my love of music would be passed on to my children and they would naturally love it too and pick up on singing as I did.  Though they do love music, unfortunately, I have been at a loss as to how to teach it to them.  You would think after years of learning myself I could turn those tables around easily and teach it but that has not been the case.  The silly sounds you make to warm-up have been laughable to my children and trying to explain how to breathe through your diaphragm has proved to be a challenge.

Teaching Kids to Sing has helped immensely where my memory has failed me and it has been such fun to do with my kids.  This set of 2 DVDs and 1 CD is targeted for children ages 5 to 13.  Designed by Chris and Carole Beatty, Vocal Coach Teaching Kids to Sing (TKS) focuses on the voice and how it is used every day.  The Beatty’s are publishers of vocal training products for all ages.  (Some of my fellow Crew members reviewed The Vocal Coach Singer – be sure to check out their reviews.)  They delve into topics like posture, breathing, tone, rhythm, diction, and vocal health, among others.  In addition to the instructors, the disks also have children singing on them for a perfect example to the students of what is expected by the teachers.

We used these disks as a family (ages 7, 9, & 11).  It was easy to start each lesson with some breathing techniques and a few scales to get our voices warmed-up.  Then we could take one section, like tone or diction, and watch it then discuss it and put into practice what we saw.  The kids loved feeling their bodies vibrate as a vocal cabinet.  They also liked the internal view of the throat and vocal chords.  They appreciated the video over the CD because they “felt more part of the group of singers” when they could see the kids singing.  (I, personally, didn’t see any difference in one over the other since the songs are exactly the same, but this is what they told me.)

The DVDs are excellent visual and auditory lessons, while the CD is a mixture of vocals and music, and music only tracks.  This is an excellent way for your child to practice the songs that are being taught with help and then by themselves.  Volume one includes:  Posture, Breathing, Tone, and Warm-ups.  Volume two includes:  Rhythm, Diction, Dynamics, and Vocal Health.  The CD is a wonderful compliment to the DVDs as it has the same songs that are taught on the DVDs.
Teaching Kids to Sing

Chris does the majority of the teaching while Carole “adjusts” the children’s posture and plays the accompaniment.  Chris has a very gentle nature and is an excellent music teacher.  He likens being a singer to being an athlete and calls his singers “vocal athletes”.  His point is that singers have to warm-up and practice just like sportsmen do in order to get better and stay fit.  There are lots of warm-up songs to help make this happen.  My kids’ favorite song was the “Loud, Soft, Fast, Slow” song.  They liked all the contrasts.

This series would be great for a homeschool or church choir setting.  When we first got the program we watched both DVDs immediately all the way through, however, these could easily be divided out into sections for ease of an in-depth study.

My opinion?  Disk one was the favorite for my kids.  They learned from both DVDs but preferred the first one.  My daughter pointed out that she thought the kids were a little “babyish” in the second video.  What she meant was that they talked baby-like to her on the video.  She thought they were a little over exaggerated and cheesy.  Overall, this was a great experience for my children.  They enjoyed the rhymes that helped them remember proper posturing and they liked making the sounds on the scales.  My daughter loved the program the most, but they all learned a lot – especially about breathing.  It was wonderful to hear them excitedly tell their father that he shouldn’t clear his throat anymore!  🙂

Available for $44.99, this 3-disk set, Teaching Kids to Sing, can be purchased from The Vocal Coach.  Read more about them on their blog.  Since every family has different needs, be sure to check out the vocal homeschool page, too.

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DISCLAIMER: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a complimentary copy of Teaching Kids to Sing for the purpose of completing this review. All the opinions expressed here are my own and are offered honestly in exchange for the product. The receipt of the product in no way influenced my honest assessment.
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