“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
~ Vince Lombardi
The quote above not only applies to athletes – but musicians too! During the holiday season, music teachers have to teach a lot of repertoire very quickly and efficiently to young learners. Keeping our young students engaged and interested in the process can be a challenge. Below are some ideas and strategies on how to keep practicing FUN for upcoming performances:
Play Watching and Listening Games:
Start a rehearsal off with some of these fun activities to get their brains and bodies engaged:
- Follow my hands – wait for the clap!
- Arms rotate in opposite directions
- One arm up and down, other arm reaches up, then side, then down
- Follow my fingers.
- Tap hand for different consonant sounds. Hold for sustained sounds.
- Consonant echoes with movement in hands and fingers.
Share a Video or Recording of the Song:
Listening to the song first can be helpful in getting students engaged and excited right at the start. Also, listening to it again later on can help keep students motivated. Use the listening opportunity to discuss some listening elements like form, tempo, dynamics, etc. in the music.
Movement and Actions:
Adding actions or movement to your song is a great way to help students remember the words quickly. You can create the movements yourself, as a class, or use choreography suggestions from the song if provided. Another fun way to practice the song is to do the movements and whisper or mouth the words. Denise calls this “Magic Lips”. You can also use the sing/audiate paddle (see image below) to switch between singing the words and thinking the words.
Beat and Rhythm Activities:
Tell your students beat is the steady pulse, and rhythm is the way the words go. With your concert songs, try doing these two musical elements in a variety of ways to keep it interesting:
- Keep the beat or play the rhythm using different levels of body percussion (snapping, clapping, patting, or stomping)
- Keep the beat or play the rhythm on non-pitched percussion instruments. Set up hula-hoops with instruments inside and rotate students to the various instruments.
- Switch between beat and rhythm while you sing the song – this can be a FUN challenge! Below is an image of a beat/rhythm paddle you can make and use for this activity:
Body Percussion Echoes:
When reviewing the song by rote – add a little twist with some body percussion. You sing a phrase - student sing and clap/snap/pat/stomp the words back. For an added challenge, you sing a phrase and students freeze – they sing it back and walk to the rhythm of the words.
Use your concert songs to review and teach other concepts in your curriculum. Try starting off a rehearsal by writing a phrase from the song on the board to practice the rhythm or read the melody.
Finish the Phrase:
Sing the beginning of a phrase and ask if anyone can finish it. Use this to go through a section of the song, or a part the students are finding challenging to remember.
The students (especially little ones) will get bored if you practice the songs the entire class. Try alternating practicing concert songs with some of your favourite singing games, listening activities, or centers.
Use a Variety of Accompaniments:
Try singing the song acapella, with the piano or other instrument, and with a recording track if available. As you get closer to performance time, practice with the accompaniment you intend on using for the concert.
Ask the students to stand up to sing the song and “LOOK PROFESSIONAL”. Take the time to discuss what real performers do on stage – watching the conductor, not playing with their hair, not touching other kids, etc. Praise the students who are doing a great job.
Riser Practice and Entrance/Exit Routine:
Take the time to teach students how to stand and move properly on the risers. Go through how to move on and off the risers. Try this and practice the song too, reminding students of your expectations throughout.
If you have time, record the students singing their concert songs. Watch it together and discuss what they can work on and how they can improve before the show. The students can use the following method to quickly self-reflect or use the worksheet below:
- Show me 1 finger if you didn’t sing.
- Show me 2 fingers if you sang, but you didn’t try your best.
- Show me 3 fingers if you tried your very best, and sang with your best singing voice.
REMEMBER - It's not too late to plan a holiday concert!
View the links below to see some easy and quick programs to put together in your school from Themes and Variations.