Teaching Kids to Sing: Three Ways to find Singing Voice

In this post we talked about the importance of the singing voice and the problem that can arise when kids try to push their speaking voice into their singing register. 

To review, this approach to singing is problematic in the following areas 

  1. range 
  2. vocal health
  3. musicianship

If you remember, some children find this singing voice or "head voice" quite easily. Others, however, have trouble accessing it. 

Today I'd like to share three activities for helping kids find their singing voice.

Teaching Kids to Sing


This is Stella. Stella was kind enough to do some singing activities with me before I left the States. 

We worked on several things like vocal resonance and two other ways to practice singing in our head voice. 




Vocal Resonanance:

Vocal resonance is:

the process by which the basic product of phonation is enhanced in timbre and / or intensity by the air-filled cavities through which it passes on its way to the outside air
— James C. McKenny, The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults

This is a really complicated way of saying resonance is how we use hollow spaces in our bodies to make a good sound.

Two of the main resonating spaces we use every day are the chest and the mouth. When we talk about using chest voice and head voice, we are talking about what space is resonating when we make our sound. The head voice, or singing voice resonates in our mouth. The higher the pitches go, the higher we feel those sensations. You can feel it if you keep the back of your mouth open while you hum. The chest voice, or speaking voice, resonates mainly in the chest. We have the most practice using this resonating space since we use it to speak every day.


1. Head Voice vs Chest Voice

It's so important that kids learn to tell the difference between their speaking and singing voice. One easy way to amplify the physical sensations of each register is. . . 

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Singing Voice: 
With the back of the mouth open like a cave but close your lips, have your child hum lightly in his or her upper register. Have him or her place one finger gently above the upper lip. What he or she should be feeling is a slight tickling sensation where the finger is.This is a signal that resonance is happening in the mouth. 

Chest Voice: 
Have your child place one hand on the chest and speak a few words in a fairly low speaking register. Then have him or her try to elongate some of these words, as if singing. There should be a slight tickling or vibrating sensation. This is the resonance happening in the chest.

2. Scarves

Now that we have a clearer idea of the difference in feeling between chest and head voice, we can start using it. This activity can also be done with a bouncy ball or a bean bag, but I like a scarf better because it has a smoother, more gentle rise and fall which mimics how we want the voice to sound as we practice. 

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Have your child "put the voice on the scarf", following the direction of the scarf as it rises and falls with the pitch of the voice. The higher the scarf goes, the higher the voice goes. But remember, we never want to screech or sound too tight the higher we get. Always listen for your child making a gentle, light sound as he or she does this activity.

3. Shapes

Another great activity is asking your child to make a shape and follow the ups and downs of the shape with the voice. Stella and I used pipe cleaners but you could also do this activity with yarn or using a pencil and paper.

Have your child make a shape that has high points and low points. The wackier the better! Just as with the scarf, put the voice on the shape and follow the direction with pitch using the singing voice. 

These three simple activities are great ways to help your child find his or her singing voice. I hope they help you sing a little more today! 

- Victoria