Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 20

Thread: HOw to get them to sing.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ames, Iowa/San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Posts
    2,817

    Default HOw to get them to sing.

    To start with, I know that there are a lot of people out there who don't sing and who don't go outside of their homes to play their ukuleles. That's fine, each to their own. In fact, I was at once one of them. But one of the reasons I took up the ukulele was to leave that person behind and to become one of those people who share their music with the world. That was, and still is, my motivation and it drove me. I know that isn't everybody though. I have recently acquired a student. Actually more of an apprentice, as I'm not much of a teacher. She won't sing. She is twelve years old and she was inspired by 21 Pilots' House of Gold. I have known her family for a long time. We have been working toward learning to play it. She will strum along with me while I sing it, but she will not sing. No offense meant to anyone who doesn't sing, but what is the point of learning to play a song that you like if you aren't going to sing it? Does anyone have any ideas how to gently push my young student out of her shell?

    Along the same lines, a down town clothing store has asked my wife and I to perform for them during the Downtown Music Walk this fall. We've done that before. I think it would be a great opportunity for my young student to really experience the excitement and rush of performing in public. In that case, she might not even have to sing. Just stand there and play her ukulele. Maybe that is the next step for her, if I can get her to take it. So any advise would be appreciated. Perhaps there are people here who wouldn't sing or perform at first, but then were inspired and blossomed? Tell me about it. Let me learn from other's experiences.
    Last edited by Rllink; 05-21-2017 at 05:54 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1978485476...rds=R.+L.+Link

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Upper Hale, Surrey/Hants border, UK.
    Posts
    4,601

    Default

    In general, I don't sing either, & when I do, it's only for the other Seasonistas on here, I prefer to play the melody.

    Just let her find her own way, maybe she'll start to sing it at home once she feels confident enough in her playing, or, maybe she would like to play the melody line instead of the chords.

    Some of us are just born shy, it takes a lot of nerve to put ourselves up in front of people that first time.
    (Don't push her, if she wants to she will when the time is right for her.)
    Trying to do justice to various musical instruments.
    Formerly known as uke1950.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Twin Cities Area, Minnesota
    Posts
    1,346

    Default

    Hey Rollie,

    Welcome to my world. To anyone who doesn't know, I teach middle school choir, and it is messed up system where students HAVE to take a music class (very few exceptions, exceptions that are usually based on special education needs). We don't have general music, so students sign up for band, choir, or orchestra. It isn't an exaggeration to say that orchestra draws many of our best and brightest, and that both orchestra and band require more practice outside of school, and have a higher cost (instruments, supplies, and method books).

    Therefore choir is made up of kids that want to sing (and I get kids that leave orchestra and band TO sing), and those that aren't in instrumental music. Numerically, I have well over 350 students, band has 140, and orchestra about 55. I'd say that if students didn't have to be in music, we would see those numbers drop to 200, 90, and 45. That means I am teaching at least 150 students that would rather be anywhere else.

    Sadly, the mix between the climate of our building and the general trend for the current generation in secondary schools means that students simply won't participate if they don't want to. No one can make them--not me, not administration, and not parents (but, to be honest, there is usually a correlation between parent involvement and encouragement and participation).

    So...I am left trying to make things work with choirs that have large numbers of kids that won't sing. Some of that is age appropriate--singing is one of the most intensely personal things you can do. You can quit trumpet if you are bad at it, and blame the trumpet. You can't rip your vocal folds out of your neck and blame your vocal folds. You are stuck with the voice that you have. So there is embarassment, puberty, al of those things combined. Added to the problem is the number of girls that sing at a male's range--thanks to popular music and tenors (I am a tenor) that sing too high for the general population. What we end up with is a large group of female students who can sing along with the radio, but avoid singing at their correct octave. Singing is a muscular function--and if you don't train the normal range of the singing voice, it is breathy and not pleasing to hear--and thus if you keep avoiding it, it doesn't get any better.

    So, what do I do?

    First, I added ukulele, thinking that some exposure to the instrument might give some of these students an opportunity to do something musical in place of singing. In reality, the kids that do nothing continue to do nothing. My guess this is true for those kids in anything that they are not passionate about. I have kids that complain, "I thought we were supposed to SING in this class, " but when we do sing, they don't. What the message really is: "I won't do anything I don't want to do."

    I wasn't that kid growing up, and neither were my friends. I didn't see a lot of the other kids doing that when I grew up. I would guess that perhaps 10-20% of kids were like that when I was in school. Today is it more like 50-60%. So it is a generational shift.

    Second, I try to choose music they will sing. We sing non-religious holiday tunes for our Holiday Concert, and "safe" pop tunes for the Spring Concert. For our ukulele sessions, I am basing all of our work on pop-music play-Alongs on YouTube, such as those by Dr. Jill Reese, Dr. A, and Kevin Way. For the Spring Concert, I ask kids to suggest songs and choose some of them. For this concert, choirs are singing songs such as "I Don't Know My Name," "Clouds," "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You," and "House of Gold." I throw in some folk and classical songs, too, but let them choose which of the songs we learned to perform for the concert. On a positive note, even the folk and classical songs had students that wanted to learn them.

    Anyway--choosing the music that appeals to them and lets them have SOME say at this age level works a little bit (at the high school level, you can usually just choose the music--but student choice somewhere in the year is still a good thing). In the end, I look around, and sometimes there are 5 or 6 more kids singing in class, even on a particular song--and that is a win. With the video play-Alongs, it is fun to see a number of them singing along--but it is really tricking them to do so.

    So...it isn't easy, and it sounds like you are doing the right things. Don't make her perform publically unless she wants to.

    Now...put this into adult culture, and people are just as reluctant to sing at ukulele jams that I have attended as my students are. Our leader encourages singing--as do I. But it all goes back to that personal nature of the voice, and the fact that someone might have told a person that they stink at singing--that is personal and it can stick FOREVER. I work hard to address problems with the voice by addressing the issue rather than labeling the voice itself as bad.

    And I suppose it doesn't help sometimes to have a teacher (or fellow ukulele jam member) who isn't intimidated by singing and who just sings out no matter what.

    On a similar note, churches seem awfully quiet during worship these days, too--a lot of churches have moved to rock-based worship that is almost more like a concert, where the audience watches, rather than having audiences actively participate. However--people seem to like that.

    It's a big issue...one that I face daily. I'd just keep encouraging her to sing (even if she doesn't). She may be singing back home in her room when she practices. That's how you know they are hooked--when their parents come up to you and complain that they are locked in their room with their ukulele.

    I just wish that was more of them!
    Playing ukulele since January 2016.

    Have you participated in the thread, "How the Ukulele Found You?" If not, please consider adding your story--they are just fun to read.

    http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/...lele-found-you

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    U.K.
    Posts
    375

    Default

    I find it hard to follow Choirguy's excellent response above with much of value but hope that sharing my personal experience might help.

    I'm a poor singer (limited range and poor pitch) and a poor ukulele player, but despite that I really enjoy playing and singing at 'club night'. During 'club sessions' my voice and playing is effectively unheard amongst the sound everyone else produces and so I just enjoy myself rather than embarrass myself: in that situation that no one judges me and I judge no one else.

    I have yet to play out with my Ukulele Club, but that's purely a function of time available to me. However I do play other instruments and have played out to the public with them. It took me years before I felt comfortable about playing to an audience, I felt self conscious and continually worried about what I had played incorrectly or what I was about to play poorly. Eventually I became more hardened and stopped worrying about what other people might think of me, I decided that their adverse opinion (if that is what it was) didn't matter and that they could 'go take a walk'. If an adult man, and not a young one, struggles with such confidence then IMHO it's no wonder that a little girl does.

    How do you get children to do things? Well I never managed with my own at that age but my wife did. Her secret was to ask for little things and praise anything done half well and to praise effort. For the Mall I suggest that the best you can possibly hope for is that she plays some of the pieces whilst nearly hiding behind you and your wife. For singing at home perhaps she might join in the choruses of some songs that you and your wife sing together (give the little one some cover under which to quietly grow in ability and confidence).

    That's just my experience, as ever, your mileage might vary.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 05-21-2017 at 10:59 AM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    2,343

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rllink View Post
    No offense meant to anyone who doesn't sing, but what is the point of learning to play a song that you like if you aren't going to sing it?
    A song doesn't just consist of the vocal part. It's another "instrument", and while it works well together with a ukulele, it's a different skill altogether that appeals to a different group of people. Most bands only have one singer, but multiple musicians. Even if you are not in a group, and not accompanying a singer, you can still "think" the lyrics or hum them while playing. If it's enjoyable, then that's the point.

    Even as a listener I enjoy instrumentals more than songs with singing.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    208

    Default

    Adolescence is hell. I wouldn't force a 12-year-old girl into doing anything outside her comfort zone. If you can get her to join you at the gig and just play along, that would be wonderful. No singing until she's ready. Remembering myself at that age, I think it's likely when she's alone in her room strumming uke, she's singing along. Too quietly for anyone to hear. And she'll deny it.

    Choirguy, wow you have my sympathy. Some kids really don't get music and don't care. Others wish they could sing but are convinced they can't. Either way, the "this is dumb, I don't want to do it" reflex is self-protective. I was that way in gym class. There was nothing any gym teacher could have done to make me approach a vaulting horse with anything but a seething hatred of gym class, gym teachers, stupid jocks and life generally.

    Finally I got a gym teacher in high school who said, look, I know you're not all athletes. I don't expect everyone to be good at this. I only ask you to make an honest effort and try to have fun. Well, that little pep talk made a big difference. The mopers stopped moping and the whole class seemed happier. You'd think that was obvious, but to the adolescent mind if they put you in a class, they expect you to excel at it. If you're in choir, you have to be a great singer or else you're a wretched failure. Giving the kids explicit permission to suck might seem counter-intuitive, but it takes the pressure off.

    I don't lead choirs, but sometimes I direct plays. There are rehearsals where I ask the actors to deliberately overact. Be the worst actor you can possibly be. Master Thespian! Genius! Thank You! It gets the timid actors to open up and everybody has fun. Maybe a choir rehearsal where the objective is to sing as loudly and as badly as possible?

    A classic first-day-of-improv-class exercise is for each student to stand onstage and sing his or her favorite song as loud as possible. All at the same time. No point in being self-conscious because nobody can hear you over the din. But now you've got them onstage, singing loud, and not afraid, which is step one.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Ames, Iowa/San Juan, Puerto Rico
    Posts
    2,817

    Default

    I'm not going to make her sing. I mean how would one even do that? Also, I'm not one to go around telling people what to do. I suggest to her that she sing the songs instead of just playing the chords and she is too shy to do so. I acquired this student because I have known her mother since she herself was a kid and they looked for a real ukulele instructor in town everywhere and couldn't find one. They tried. But then my niece told her that I played the ukulele and she asked me to teach her daughter, and I said that I would do the best that I could. But I consider myself more a mentor than a ukulele instructor. But the thing is that I sing and play the ukulele. That is what I do. If she does not go that direction, eventually I will not be able to help her on her journey. But hey, that is a long way off. There is still a lot that I can show her. And who knows, maybe with some help I will get her to come along with me on my journey. That is why I posted this here. I'm just hoping to get some advice early, before we come to that crossroad. That's all.

    Quote Originally Posted by acmespaceship View Post
    Finally I got a gym teacher in high school who said, look, I know you're not all athletes. I don't expect everyone to be good at this. I only ask you to make an honest effort and try to have fun. Well, that little pep talk made a big difference. The mopers stopped moping and the whole class seemed happier. You'd think that was obvious, but to the adolescent mind if they put you in a class, they expect you to excel at it. If you're in choir, you have to be a great singer or else you're a wretched failure. Giving the kids explicit permission to suck might seem counter-intuitive, but it takes the pressure off.
    I am not a particularly good singer. I'm okay, I don't embarrass myself. Most people that I know who perform are not great singers, or even great instrumentalists. They are great performers. I think that I'm a pretty good performer. At least people seem to enjoy it. So I'm not asking for anyone to be a great singer. But I think that you make a good point. Because I talk to a lot of people who set the bar so unrealistically high for themselves that they will ever be able to clear it. To me singing and performing is all about accepting yourself. I think that if I can show someone to do that through the ukulele, that would be cool.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mivo View Post
    A song doesn't just consist of the vocal part. It's another "instrument", and while it works well together with a ukulele, it's a different skill altogether that appeals to a different group of people. Most bands only have one singer, but multiple musicians. Even if you are not in a group, and not accompanying a singer, you can still "think" the lyrics or hum them while playing. If it's enjoyable, then that's the point.

    Even as a listener I enjoy instrumentals more than songs with singing.
    Mivo, it is okay with me if you don't sing, and I'm not telling you that you should. But if you were my protege I would want you to, because that is what I do. I mean, if you are doing your own thing, that's great. But if you come along with me and do my thing, it is good if you sing.
    Last edited by Rllink; 05-21-2017 at 01:06 PM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1978485476...rds=R.+L.+Link

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    169

    Default

    I think this is genius, acmespaceship! Bravo! That really could be a ice breaker! At least it would work on me....smile.
    Adolescence is so difficult and it lasts a heck of a long time! Then if we are lucky, we get to experience not caring what others think quite so much and branch out a bit, but that can come late in life.
    One reason I like the ukulele is the low barrier to entry, the low expectations etc. I do get weary of people trying to insist that I play for them. What? I play for my self, and not casual acquaintances. No, I won't play for you, just because music came up in our conversation.
    It seems that people don't play or sing as much anymore and that is a loss. We are on our phones or computers and perhaps technology has lead us to somehow believe that unless we are American Idol or the The Voice quality that we should not try? I am not good at playing anything and have never taken lessons but I enjoy trying and discovering things musically.
    I think be positive and encouraging of effort is the best we can do for each other sometimes.

    Quote Originally Posted by acmespaceship View Post
    Adolescence is hell. I wouldn't force a 12-year-old girl into doing anything outside her comfort zone. If you can get her to join you at the gig and just play along, that would be wonderful. No singing until she's ready. Remembering myself at that age, I think it's likely when she's alone in her room strumming uke, she's singing along. Too quietly for anyone to hear. And she'll deny it.

    Choirguy, wow you have my sympathy. Some kids really don't get music and don't care. Others wish they could sing but are convinced they can't. Either way, the "this is dumb, I don't want to do it" reflex is self-protective. I was that way in gym class. There was nothing any gym teacher could have done to make me approach a vaulting horse with anything but a seething hatred of gym class, gym teachers, stupid jocks and life generally.

    Finally I got a gym teacher in high school who said, look, I know you're not all athletes. I don't expect everyone to be good at this. I only ask you to make an honest effort and try to have fun. Well, that little pep talk made a big difference. The mopers stopped moping and the whole class seemed happier. You'd think that was obvious, but to the adolescent mind if they put you in a class, they expect you to excel at it. If you're in choir, you have to be a great singer or else you're a wretched failure. Giving the kids explicit permission to suck might seem counter-intuitive, but it takes the pressure off.

    I don't lead choirs, but sometimes I direct plays. There are rehearsals where I ask the actors to deliberately overact. Be the worst actor you can possibly be. Master Thespian! Genius! Thank You! It gets the timid actors to open up and everybody has fun. Maybe a choir rehearsal where the objective is to sing as loudly and as badly as possible?

    A classic first-day-of-improv-class exercise is for each student to stand onstage and sing his or her favorite song as loud as possible. All at the same time. No point in being self-conscious because nobody can hear you over the din. But now you've got them onstage, singing loud, and not afraid, which is step one.
    -Timms Style 0 (2014),Timms Style 0 Soprano (2015)
    -Martin Style 2 Soprano (1948?), Martin Style 1 Centennial (2017)
    -Martin Style 1 Concert (1938?)
    -DH ULO #3 Soprano (2016), DH ULO #11 Tenor (2016)
    -Ohana SK 35GS (2015)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    U.K.
    Posts
    375

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by acmespaceship View Post


    Choirguy, wow you have my sympathy. Some kids really don't get music and don't care. Others wish they could sing but are convinced they can't. Either way, the "this is dumb, I don't want to do it" reflex is self-protective. I was that way in gym class. There was nothing any gym teacher could have done to make me approach a vaulting horse with anything but a seething hatred of gym class, gym teachers, stupid jocks and life generally.

    Finally I got a gym teacher in high school who said, look, I know you're not all athletes. I don't expect everyone to be good at this. I only ask you to make an honest effort and try to have fun. Well, that little pep talk made a big difference. The mopers stopped moping and the whole class seemed happier. You'd think that was obvious, but to the adolescent mind if they put you in a class, they expect you to excel at it. If you're in choir, you have to be a great singer or else you're a wretched failure. Giving the kids explicit permission to suck might seem counter-intuitive, but it takes the pressure off.


    Thankyou for sharing this insight, IMHO it is an absolute gem - a liberating and empowering mindset to copy, to explore and to promote. How I wish that more folk took the attitude of that teacher, we'd all be a lot happier and end up more fulfilled too.

    Apologies to the OP if I in anyway divert the thread.
    Last edited by Graham Greenbag; 05-21-2017 at 10:31 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    NH
    Posts
    886

    Default

    Tell her you're not sure how some part of the song should sound. Then ask her to help.
    Martin OXK Soprano
    Kamaka HF3 Tenor
    Eastman EU3C Concert
    Martin S1

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •