Getting the best out of your students' singing - teaching tips

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1. It's important to look at the Voices Around The World - Lighting Up The Flame project instructions. There are many valuable tips for choir work illustrated in this short document - provided by successful choir teachers. Click here to go to the resources page to download these instructions.

2. Get your students to learn the lyrics asap. Experienced choir teachers will always tell you that a dependency on lyric sheets is a limiting factor for any choir. You cannot properly teach the song dynamics when youngsters are struggling with lyrics they do no know properly - the brain has too much on which to focus. Your students voices will also be slightly muted if they are looking down or have their mouths hidden behind the lyric sheet. Power teaching point - learn the lyrics fast - ban any lyric sheets asap!

3. Vocal warm ups like sports warm ups are essential - don't skip these. You will see some of these illustrated in our instructions booklet  - click here

4. Give your rehearsals some variety. We all know that keeping the music enjoyable is vital. Going through one particular phrase in the song for the 20th time is probably going to kill off even your most ardent choir person. It is interesting how, with students, you can literally hear 'sad' or 'happy' in the recording of their voices. If possible get your students to make the most of technology and practice with the choir resources either on their phones, computers or tablets outside of main rehearsal time. If possible let your students organise practices of their own. Use the karaoke videos we have provided - let your choir have a chance to look at the images in the accompanying videos - how many star sports people can they identify? Use follow my leader techniques for tricky parts of the song. Call and response - divide your choir into partners and work in fours - 1 partner group sings one line of the song and the other partner group sings the next etc. Use breakout groups for choir part rehearsals - use older talented students to lead the breakout group rehearsals working with the recorded choir parts of the song. Bring them back together for full rehearsal and spot any tricky areas so that they can go back and focus on certain sections in their breakout groups.

5. Watch out for note slides - i.e sliding up to a note rather than pitching it first time! This is often connected with breathing properly.

6. Diction and word endings. Be sure that word endings like 's' and 't' are just audible but not exaggerated - this makes a big difference. Vocal mouth/diction exercises are very good to include as part of this: Betty bought a bit of butter, but she found the butter bitter, so Betty bought a bit of better butter to make the bitter butter better. There are loads of tongue twisters like this that make for excellent warm-up and again bring variety to the rehearsal. For more tongue twisters and information around this, have a look at writeoutloud.com

7. Getting everyone singing in synch with the mp3 choir part versions is absolutely crucial for the VATW project. Lighting up the flame has very rhythmic lyrics that are quite clearly punctuated. A goof idea here is to get students listening to the bass line in the recordings and making sure they are singing in rhythm with this.

If you have some good tips/ideas that you find work well yourself that you would like to share with colleagues please feel free to add them in the comments below this post. We wish you happy singing times with your superstar choir!

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