Fun with Sounds by Pippa Goss
There is a moment in the summer when I realise that my transition to singing teaching geek is finally complete.
I am driving about the country on holiday with my five year- old daughter listening to the CBeebies Songs Album for the umpteenth time (singing teachers, note that younger children love repetition) and I am busy singing along when I realise that one of the songs feels really good to sing for all the ‘d’ sounds: “Do you didgeridoo?” Yes, I didgeridoo! Great, so there’s a lovely ditty for those children I teach who struggle with getting the tip of the tongue working on the on the alveolar ridge – perhaps a child with bit of an underbite.
But it doesn’t just stop there. Once I have this idea, it is no longer my daughter requesting the CBeebies album in the car, it is me putting it on to devise some more little exercises for those tricky ‘t’, ‘d’, ‘l’ and ‘n’ sounds.
I realise that the people who have written these songs have such a good understanding of putting sounds together to develop a child’s speech – it is not an accident that so many of the songs on children’s television combine speech sounds and music in interesting ways and it is a gold mine for the singing teacher!
So, here we go: to get the tip of the tongue working independently from the jaw on the ‘n’ sound, how about “na na na na Gigglebiz, na na na ho ho!” Most children under the age of thirteen will know this one.
I am always looking for ways to encourage my younger pupils to clearly articulate ‘t’ sounds in words. To get a good, percussive sound isn’t easy and takes practice, so have a go at: “Tinga tanga, tinga tanga”. Incidentally, if you slow it down a bit, linger on the ‘ng’, then do an energetic ‘ga’ sound, you will also give the soft palate a good work out. This is great for pupils who might have a tendency towards nasality.
For a combination of ‘t’, ‘d’, ‘l’ and ‘n’, how about a “twiddly doo, twiddly dee”? I will get really carried away with that one and make up all sorts of earworm inducing exercises.
So, this is what I do. I look around, listen, analyse, try things out myself and then get creative in order to make singing lessons even more fun and relevant for the people that I teach. Yes, we practise sight-singing, develop aural skills, my pupils learn about dynamics and we investigate the story behind a song, but I also enjoy problem-solving in a creative way if there is a technical issue that needs dealing with. And it is fun for everyone.
Pippa is currently completing the Vocal Process Singing Teachers’ Accreditation Course. For more details, and to join us on the Singing Teacher’s Training Intensive in Leeds Oct 27th, click here
“Do you didgeridoo?” Featuring Dhinawan, from Zingzillas. Music by Banks and Wag.
The Gigglebiz theme tune. BBC Production for CBeebies.
Tinga Tanga Tales. A Tiger Aspect Production for CBeebies. Music by Eric Wainaina and Aaron Wimbui.
Twiddly doo, Twiddly dee. I made this one up – it didn’t take long.
Pippa Goss is based in Chorlton, south Manchester, where she teaches one-to-one singing lessons with children from the age of seven to adults of any age, ability or experience. If you are interested in finding out what meerkats and imps with bungees have to do with singing please email firstname.lastname@example.org