I love this book! I discovered it at the studio in a stack of books they had for sale, and I love it! This is a wonderful resource for any vocal teacher who is looking for songs with an appropriate range and content for young singers. It is hard to find something that works well for kids in the under 13 category; often the content is too mature and would be inappropriate (or not believable) or the range/complexity of the melody is simply not suitable for a young and developing voice.
So far in this book I have enjoyed working with students on “Tomorrow” (Annie), “Castle on a Cloud” (Les Miserables), and “When I Grow Up” (Matilde). This last one was introduced to me by a student. She competed in Access Broadway recently (and did very well!). Her drama director selected the song, and they had to do staging, lighting, makeup, etc. as if it were a scene from a Broadway musical, and then they received feedback from professional directors. I am going to have this student work on one of the pieces that says, “I have Broadway on the brain.” (I forget which one this is…either “Let Me Entertain You” or “Born to Entertain”. I always switch them around.)
Another benefit of this book is that examples of the music being performed by children are readily available. There are multiple versions of Annie out there, some clips from other movies are on YouTube, and a recent award celebration featured “When I Grow Up” and is also available on YouTube.
NOTE: Please make sure you are getting the updated version of this book! (Unless you really want an older one.) TWICE I ordered used versions of the book, advertised as the revised edition, and both times (from different sellers) I received an older version! So I have THREE copies of this book. They are not identical, so if there is one particular song you want, be sure to check! One book has music from Peter Pan, but the others do not.
Posted in Teaching Private Lessons, Teaching Voice
Tagged annie, anthology, appropriate, books, born to entertain, broadway, castle on a cloud, gypsy, help, kids, let me entertain you, level, matilde, method, peter pan, sing, singer, song, teach, tomorrow, vocal, voice, wendy, what, when I grow up, young
Check out this post for some excellent tips on saving money on sheet music.
Some things I do personally:
- Only buy copies of books you know you will use frequently. For me, this is usually the primer level of a piano book (kids forget all the time) or a vocal book I intend to use with multiple students. I both volumes of the “Folk Songs for Solo Singers” books in both high and low voice, but I don’t buy every Broadway book a student wants to sing from.
- If a student wants to learn one song from a book (such as a Disney or pop song) I might have them look up the words to it rather than buy the entire book. If it is a foreign language song (getting their feet wet the first time at a young age) I write out a pronunciation guide for them and then in the lesson I use the version that is for their voice (high or low) and then they use the other one to follow along.
- I often make recordings of myself singing a student’s song so that they can practice more effectively and memorize it more quickly. If I can do the same version of their song, or find someone performing it online, that helps greatly.
Posted in Teaching Private Lessons, Tips and Tricks
Tagged copy, lesson, money, music, piano, save, sheet, teacher, teachers, tips, voice
I recently had a student with an emergency situation: she woke up with no voice! This is a little girl (11) who might as well have been born on the stage — she sings all the time! And she had several performances coming up (thankfully she was not the lead in all of them). I frantically asked my colleagues for what would help and several of them recommended SOVT exercises. I had no idea what they were, but one of the kind vocal teachers did a video chat to show me her exercises. I will explain her exercise below, but please check out this website for further information on SOVT exercises. Even Renee Fleming says it changed her voice! (When I find a good article about her comments I will share.)
Essentially, SOVT is singing with a more closed mouth on an “oo” sound to reduce unnecessary pressure on the vocal cords. My colleague recommended getting either a hot cup of water or a steamer, then inhale the steam through the straw slowly. The steam actually touches your vocal cords, unlike simply drinking a warm drink, and is better able to clear out the vocal folds. After that, hum a comfortable pitch through the straw, imagining your voice goes to the end of the straw. Do this only up and down by a few half notes, on a sustained note each time (if the voice is fatigued).
I hope this will help you and excite you as much as it does me! I haven’t finished reading the article yet (have to go teach in about ten minutes!) but it seems like a useful tool for all singers!
Posted in Teaching Chorus, Teaching Private Lessons, Vocal Resources
Tagged alto, bass clef, children, exercises, fleming, help, kid, opera, renee, semi occluded, sick, sing, soprano, sovt, steam, straw, student, tenor, tired, vocal, vocal tract, voice
I always say that I am going to spend more time writing blogs, making videos, or creating resources, but these things take time and sometimes equipment to create quality products. While I love sharing things with others who might benefit, spending three or more hours (like I did tonight) to create things for free becomes tedious, especially when there are other things I probably should be doing like practicing, or working on my short story.
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Hello readers! As music teachers and students of music you have probably come to realize how much you don’t know (or how little college actually teaches you). I absorb new information regularly, but there is really no substitute for experience. If you ask me for recommended Clarinet pieces, books, or equipment I can rattle off several brands and composers and the popular opinions of most. Violin? Nope.
I studied violin for about five years with an older gentleman who taught at a music academy. I only ever used Wolfahrt and the Moto Perpetuo by Paganini. Scale books? What are they? I knew scales because I played clarinet, and because there were some in the Wolfahrt book (an excellent etude book, btw., highly recommend) but when it comes down to exercise books based on scales I am clueless. I have been looking for something similar to the Albert or Baermann books for clarinet, and have had some difficulty finding something that would be accessible to younger players. String teachers recommended Galamian. Too hard. Schroeder cello studies seem good, but still not a scale book. So I set out to do some more research. Finding samples of pages has been tricky, so if you want to submit a half page photo or scan it would be appreciated!
Note: With most of my beginners I have used the Essential Elements 200 book. It is good for kids who are not using it in school (if they are using it I will try something else). It comes with online accompaniment and practice tracks to help students with their intonation. I have also tried The ABCs of Violin with some younger students, and it seems to work well for some, but not for all. It does progress much more quickly than the EE method book. I am not an advocate of Suzuki because I believe that students taught in this method often rely too heavily on the ear, and are weak in music reading (which I believe is essential). I also am not able to physically demonstrate everything that I might be able understand and teach a child, and this modeling is easily added to other books and methods by a competent teacher. (I have also had several students in orchestra class who could not play anything by note…I had to play it for them, which I refused to do.)
- Fischer – This seems to be one of the more recent and popular books. I have yet to read any negative information about it. It gives practice tips, intonation help (like raise the third slightly for major scales), exercises for finger independence, and I think I read that the beginning starts with scales without shifting. They were even kind enough to put out a Sample PDF. It looks like a great book, but at $43 on Amazon the price is rather steep (especially if you’ve already had your student purchase another book. Oops.) His book Basics is also recommended by others.
- Hrimaly – This book looks like it would be an excellent addition to the college student’s collection. From the image I found, it appears to go through the scales starting in half steps from the lowest string and going through different positions. This is great if you already know the positions and are familiar with how scales work. $5.99 new (and less if used) on Amazon. If a student gets it and it’s too hard now, at least you know they can use it later and did not spend a lot on it.
- Auer – I did not see this one specifically recommended on the websites I was using for research, but found it accidentally. It seems to be a much more accessible book and is simpler to start. One reviewer said that it is a book that is not one you simply “go through”, but that it works best with perfectionist type students. You can read the rest of his thorough review here — it is the first (and rather lengthy) reply to the initial post. $13 on Amazon seems a reasonable price. I may purchase a used version for myself and see if it will work well for my student.
- Barber – This is another one that I stumbled upon. The description on Amazon coupled with the image I found online makes me excited to try it. It sells for about $12. It seems rather simplistic in some regards, and may not be exactly what you want, but it is reasonably priced and also seems to come in a viola version.
- Flesch – This seems to be one of the standard scale books, along with the Galamian. As far as I can tell from the first page, it seems to present each scale and then several arpeggios starting on the root note of that scale. So C scale, then C minor arpeggio, C major arpeggio, A minor arp. (starting on C), F major arp., and then some diminished chords. Definitely not for the beginning student. I saw some commenters on a thread at http://www.violinist.com saying that they disliked the book as a child and that even now some of the exercises are not easily playable for them. (I think the instructors are looking for books that are simple enough for them to sightread but challenging for a student). Between $15-20 new on Amazon with used versions available for $10. It also does appear that there are versions for all of the other string instruments.
- Sassmannshaus – This one came up several times in searching for both cello and violin books. It does seem to be more of a rudimentary method book, meant for yunger beginners. In researching cello scale books I found this list from CelloProfessor.com
- The Art of Scales (Cello) – There is a sample PDF of these scales. Seems like a reasonable book for a student, and at $18 is not too terribly expensive if they are a dedicated student.
- Simply Scales (And Arpeggios) (Cello) – This one seems to be exactly what it says it is, scales and arpeggios. The first page has two major scales and their arpeggios, along with the three variations of their relative minor scales. This would probably be a good book for a beginning student who is not taking private lessons, rather than a teacher who is looking for something to use in a private lesson. Since I was unable to find anything resembling exercises on repeating scales, thirds, etc. I am going to say I would not recommend this for an advancing and ambitious student, but it might be acceptable as an accompanying book to another method for a younger beginner.
- Fleury (Cello) – Also appears to be only meant for scales, but it goes into jazz scales, modes, and other things that might be useful to someone wanting to broaden their knowledge of scales.
- Galamian (Cello) – This is supposed to be the quintessential book for string players who want to continue to study music in college or beyond. The first page has notes (without stems) for scales in different positions on the instrument (which I take to mean is has a scale for each position…not entirely certain) and then instructs the student to play them in major and minor keys . This assumes the student understands how scales work, or has memorized the key signatures. This is far too advanced for a beginning middle school student who isn’t dedicated to researching and practicing for hours a day.
- Klengel (Cello) – Much more reasonably priced than some of the other books, the Klengel does seem to have scales and other exercises like thirds, etc.
I hope this post was useful to my subscribers and other readers who drifted by. If you like what I have created, please become a patron at my Patreon page. Please bear in mind that a research blog like this might take several hours. (I was looking things up for myself, but the formatting for a blog takes a while. About 3 hours for this one.) I am brand new to the Patreon platform, so I apologize for the n00b like qualities of the page and my usage of it. It is linked to my brand new Music Adventures channel on YouTube, but I have yet to transfer my older videos to the new account. You can still see them on my other channel by clicking here. I also have a page of resources on my TeachersPayTeachers page. Found my blog and other videos useful but don’t want to become a patron? A donation through PayPal would be appreciated! I hope to get a camera and condenser mic for better videos and recording quality in the future. :)Thank you for your viewership and any support you have given, be that financial or otherwise! You are appreciated. 🙂
Posted in Method Book Reviews and Samples, Teaching Orchestra, Teaching Private Lessons
Tagged auer, barber, bass, book, cello, etude, fischer, flesch, Galamian, hrimaly, Klengel, link, method, recommend, review, sassmannshaus, scale, suzuki, vilin, viola, violin