Teaching Your Kids to Sing In Tune

by | Mar 3, 2016 | Blog Posts, Favorites, Music Education Theory, Methods & Studies

Teaching Your Kids to Sing In Tune

Intro / Shouting v Singing / Solfege Hand Sign Video Lesson /

From the most classic of playground chants, to the songs from the latest Disney movie, kids love to sing.

Young children make up songs as they go in an uninhibited way that most adult songwriters envy.

But as much as kids loves to sing, it’s pretty rare to find a kid who naturally sings in tune.

While most kids can grasp the contour of a song enough to sing, it’s pretty easy for a class of singing kids to turn from a cute little spectacle into a cacophonous nightmare.

And if you’ve ever prepared young singers for a performance of any kind, you know how difficult it is to walk the line between getiting kids to sing loud without yelling.

There are also those kids out there who don’t like singing! Maybe they’re shy, maybe they’ve been scared into not singing by some recent life experience, or maybe they can’t wrap their head around singing and therefore right it off as lame.

With all of that in mind, we’re going to look at a few tips and tricks for getting kids to sing in tune. These tips and tricks will help you manage your music students, encourage the shy singers to step out of their non-singing shells, and help your future Rachel Berrys develop an awareness for singing in-tune!

Before we sing, we shout!

When you sing with young kids, you have to understand the differences between singing, chanting and shouting. In a practical sense, this means allowing your kids to do a little of each!

When it comes to shouting, I usually do something in the early part of class that gives kids a chance to roar, growl, yell and screamto their hearts content! we all cover our ears and then we go for it!!!

By giving them the opportunity to shout and yell (usually to the point where they’ve had their fill), when we move on to singing, it’s very easy for me to say something to the affect of, “We’re done shouting for today! Let’s focusing on singing with our beautiful voices!” Then we move on to singing!

Step 1: The Voice as an Instrument

When I really want my kids to sing in tune, we get our ya-ya’s out a bit, and then we sit down and sing some call-and-response along with a xylophone (that I play).

The resonator bell xylophone is great for this because it’s long and rich tone provides nice strong reference for everyone in the class singing! Singing with a set of bells or a piano is obviously a huge plus, as you are singing with a reference!

I remind everyone that our voice is a musical instrument and that we can make all kinds of low and high sounds with it. Sometimes we’ll do some sirens real quick to warm up the voice. Yawning is also a great pre-singing ritual as it expands and then relaxes the muscles around the face, or you can do some lion face yoga as well!

The I ask everyone to imagine that their voice can be like the sound of a bird singing or a flute playing, which helps to keep our volume down and gets them kids thinking more about tone than about volume.

I remind them to try and match their voice to the sound of the xylophone and we jump in singing arpeggios, melodies and scales nice and slow. We do mostly call and response, but after a few weeks of the same routine (i.e. all the chords in C Major arpeggiated, the scale up and down, 3 note runs, etc), a lot of kids will try to sing-along the whole time.

But when it comes to getting kids to sing really in tune, it helps to connect the abstract idea of pitch with something more kinesthetic. That’s where the hand-signs come in!

Step 2: The Solfege Hand Signs

Using the Curwen hand signs, which we call the Solfege hand signs for simplicity’s sake, allows your kids to attach a concrete motion to a particular note. This helps develop a better sense of memorized pitch for everyone!

For kinesthetic learners, this might give them the confidence and the prompting they need to start singing! For your Frozen-belting little girls, this will help them reign in some of their enthusiasm with some more context!

Not only do the hand signs help develop your sense of memorized pitch, kids LOVE to hand sign. There’s just something about it that’s fun, natural and engaging.

If you’d like to learn how to sing and hand-sign with the Solfége Hand Signs, check out the video below!

If you’re not familiar with the Solfege hand signs, the video below will introduce them to you and your child!

Once you complete the video, you should definitely sign-up for the Preschool Prodigies starter program, so you can get even more practice singing some popular kid songs with your new skills! You can find the sign up form at the bottom of the page!


Step 3: Meaningful Exposure to Individual Musical Notes

One of the reasons that the Solfege hand signs are so successful in teaching children music is that they provide a meaningful and memorable way for children to interact with individual musical notes.

Research from Diana Duetsch show’s us that children who receive meaningful exposure to pitch during the critical years for auditory development (~ages 2-6) will develop a stronger musical ear. She proves her point by comparing children of tone-languages (Mandarin speakers) against children of non-tone languages (English speakers).

She believes that the impact of this kind of musical play is so strong that it can (and often does) lead to the rare skill of perfect pitch.

Perfect pitch, or absolute pitch, is a range of skills that rely on (essentially) having memorized or internalized the sound of each musical note.

If you can tell that your Facebook messenger ping is a G, that a NYC subway closing door is B-G, and that depending on your iPhone text, you probably have an A or C ringing for your texts, than you have some degree of absolute pitch. 

Having a better sense for pitch is certainly going to help your kids sing more in tune, and if you’re looking for more ways to bring meaningful play with pitch to your music time, you’ll definitely want to check out some of the resources list below.

Step 4: Hand-Sign Poster & Ten Free Lessons from Prodigies

Inside our Sing, Sign & Play Starter Program you’ll find 10 free video lessons, our Solfege Hand-Sign Poster, printable sheet music and more to start your child’s musical journey today!

In Part 1 of the program, we Sing along with 2 different versions of Sweet Beets!

In Part 2 of the program, we Sign along with 5 short and sweet Solfege Hand-Sign Excercises!

In Part 3 of the program, we Play our instruments with 3 song lessons from both Preschool Prodigies and Primary Prodigies!


Step 5: Bells, The Prodigies Playground & Additional Free Resources

Bells: When it comes to singing in tune, your kids will, at some point, absolutely need an instrument that they can sing along with.

For lots and lots of reasons, these durable, colorful and well-tuned deskbells are the #1 instrument for young kids. Plus, they come fully guaranteed by our team, so if you geto ne that’s for whatever reason broken, we’ll send you a new one right away!

More Prodigies Lessons: If you’re looking for something even more robust, you might consider joining the Prodigies Playground. Our award winning, full-length program will have you and your kids singing, hand signing and playing your way to a music education in no time!

Or if none of that sounds good to you, check out some aditional resources below for getting your kids to sing in tune!

Definitely don’t forget to join the free starter program below to get some more practice with the Solfége Hand Signs!

And if you’re really serious about giving your kid a musical upbringing, be sure to invest in the Preschool Prodigies Playground! For less than a month’s worth of private music lessons you can get a years worth of musical activities, videos and guidance that your child will enjoy, repeat and master to their hearts content!


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At school, at home and even without any musical training, you and your kids will discover the language of music.


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