Homeschool

Every Homeschool family is different…

At Vocal Coach we understand this and are here to help you use our products successfully in your unique homeschool setting. So whether you have an elementary student and are using our Teaching Kids to Sing series (targeted at age 5 through 6th grade) or our core Vocal Coach Singer product line (perfect for junior high through adulthood), we are glad to answer any questions you might have on how to maximize our singing/speaking systems.

Following are some frequently asked questions, like “What is your overall approach to training young voices?” or “My boys voice is about to change. What can I do to help him go through this smoothly?”. We encourage you to read through all the FAQ’s for the series you are using with your student to get helpful tips and suggestions.

Using Teaching Kids To Sing (TKS) In The Homeschool Environment

Welcome to the Vocal Coach Teaching Kids To Sing series. These training materials are the result of over 40 years of study and teaching. They are a unique blend of proven principles and fun, interactive exercises presented by Chris & Carole Beatty and the Vocal Coach Kids. What is learned and experienced in this process will impact not only singing, but perhaps even more importantly speaking and everyday use of the voice. That means better communications at every level.

There are a number of different ways to apply this material to a Home School setting. Some, prefer to take one topic a week and dig deep. That would mean scheduling two or three sessions to view (DVD) or listen to (CD) that topic. Then, begin using the Accompaniment CD to reinforce what is being learned. Using this method you could space it out over 8 or more weeks. Doing review sessions could expand it to 10–12 weeks.

The most common method however is topically and the best order is the way they occur on the DVD’s or CD’s. The reason for this is simple: Certain things like Posture and Breathing are necessary foundations for areas such as Tone, Warm-ups and Diction.

As you continue through the topics I strongly recommend regular review of those areas that have gone before. The reason for this is that unlike math, or reading where once you have mastered an idea you can apply it, singing is physical, mechanical and acoustical. Good free singing relies on muscle memory, and that just takes time.

This is the order we recommend:

  • Posture
  • Breathing
  • Tone
  • Warm Ups
  • Rhythm
  • Diction
  • Dynamics
  • Vocal Health

One of the great parts of working on the voice is that it is used each, and every day. Many choose to begin as above and add the element of recording, and evaluating your student singing with the Accompaniment CD. Letting the student hear him or her self recorded on a neutral device can be very revealing and helpful. Quality recordings can be done on most video cameras, computers and even iPhones using free apps. That, of course can be good news, if you’re using it right, or bad news if you’re not. As we say at Vocal Coach, “Practice makes permanent no matter how you’re practicing, so let’s do it right.”

Working With Teaching Kids To Sing

Begin with the Building Foundations That Last DVD or CD. This will set the stage and help young singers experience how the voice was designed to work. This DVD/CD guides you through posture, breathing tone and warm-ups, using interactive exercises and a cast of young singers. This will lead to an understanding of the voice as well as muscle memory that will serve for a lifetime.

After you have worked through a topic several times you can reinforce what’s been learned with the Teaching Kids to Sing Accompaniment CD. This is a convenient way to access the warm-ups and songs you have been learning anywhere you can use a CD. For full flexibility each exercise and song is offered in two formats. First, with Chris and the Vocal Coach Kids singing with you. Second, with just the accompaniment. This gives you accompaniment that your kids can use even in performance situations.

Essential Skills for Growing Voices is the second DVD/CD and moves into the world of rhythm, diction, dynamics and more. It uses the same format of presenting a principle and then exercises to apply it, all with the aid of the Vocal Coach Kids. As each area become comfortable the Accompaniment CD will again provide direct access to all songs and exercises. Our sincere goal is that you and those you teach will gain a new understanding and control of this most unique instrument.

Common TKS Questions and Their Answers

Q: What Is the goal and objectives of the Teaching Kids To Sing series?
A: Teaching Kids To Sing is a systematic, interactive and fun tool for teaching the young singers in your life about their voices using either our DVD or CDs. The Teaching Kids To Sing series presents principles and exercises in a way that can be easily understood and implemented by children from age 5 through 6th grade.
Q: Which Is Better, The TKS DVD/CD Set Or The TKS CD Bundle?

A: Both the DVD and CD sets are thorough and effective. The 2-DVD/1-CD package has the advantage of letting you see as well as hear what Chris, Carole and the Vocal Coach Kids are doing. It also includes a CD of Accompaniment Tracks so you can conveniently get to any of the songs or warm-up exercises. As a bonus, each song & exercise is offered both with Chris and the Vocal Coach Kids singing and without them. This gives you actual performance accompaniment tracks your kids can use to perform the songs.

The 3-CD set goes into more detail explanations since you can see what is going on. There is also a special section just for parents/teachers to help get them up to speed on what is going to be taught.

Q: How do you define “The Voice?”
A: What we call the voice, is really a number of different systems working together. It entails upright posture, breath management, vibration in the larynx, amplification in several areas and, of course the lips, tongue and teeth doing their part for diction.
Q: What is your overall approach to training young voices?
A: As with most physical areas, children need to be treated differently that adults. Their physical, vocal mechanisms are not fully developed and can be easily damaged by overuse, or being asked to produce more volume of a wider range than they are physically ready to. That being said, most children are capable of a reasonably clear tone, good control and very clear diction. As these areas are presented in fun, meaningful ways they can all be maximized.
Q: How much time do we need to dedicate to this vocal curriculum?
A: In the study of voice there are two very separate times when growth occurs. The first is in the structured study time. The second is the remainder of every day and how posture, breathing, tone and diction are being used. That opens the possibility for some very fast growth as long as teacher and student are voice-aware, and having fun along the way.
Q: Can any child learn to sing?
A: Not every child can sing accurately and well, but the vast majority eventually will. What we’re really talking about is the ability to match pitch, have a sense of rhythm and the ability to “speak on notes.” That’s what singing is: Speaking on assigned pitches for specific lengths of time. Some, especially those raised in musical environments will do this automatically, and many of those will also harmonize and feel appropriate dynamics instinctively.
Q: How can I help a student who doesn’t seem able to match pitch?

A: If you know that you have accurate pitch and can tell when someone is above or below the intended pitch you will be able to help. You will need an instrument with which to first produce individual pitches, then intervals of two pitches. As the student hears the pitch it’s their job to mimic exactly the same note. If they are low, you should point up until they move up to the right pitch. “That’s it,” should be your response. If they are above pitch center you will keep pointing down until they are on target and they say, “That’s perfect.” As the student’s larynx, hearing and brain learn to reproduce the desired pitch it will become easier and easier.

In rare instances the student has no idea whether they are high, low or on target. It is still worth repeated sessions to see if it will “click.” After several weeks you may need to abandon the musical part and focus on Posture, Breathing, Tone and Diction relating it only to singing. As they do begin to become more accurate you should consider using the Vocal Coach Groups Warm-Ups that will allow harmonizing with other singers. This tool is best used with teen and adult voices but an be adapted to younger voice.

Q: How does Teaching Kids To Sing help with speaking?
A: Singing is really “Speaking On Notes.” Therefore, every aspect of singing will promote more refined hearing and vocal quality awareness. The Posture, Breathing, Tone and Diction will have a profound effect on the speaking voice. Perhaps most important is the vocal awareness aspect that will make every day speaking more fun and special.
Q: My boys voice is about to change. What can I do to help him go through this smoothly?
(This answer also appears in the Using Vocal Coach Singer Series in the Homeschool Environment for Jr & Sr High section of this site.)

A: When a boy’s voice is transitioning into a young man’s voice it can be unsettling. It is also normal, and can also be a really, really fun and special time. Here are my thoughts on the boy’s voice in transition:
Your job is to educate your young singer, anticipate what’s happening, or going to happen and enjoy the journey. It’s not unlike explaining puberty and adolescence. It is better done sooner, than later to avoid any misunderstanding. When a boy understands how and why his voice will be changing there is no fear and no surprise, just life happening.

Singing is not primarily a strength-related motor task like much of what goes on in football, basketball or soccer. Instead, it depends on efficiency, coordination and precision in the motor function of the larynx, respiratory system and articulators. That takes, maturity, fitness and discipline.

In their early teenage years, both boys and girls are still very much developing and should not push their voices beyond what the instrument can easily do. These young singers should, however, be working to perfect their posture, breathing, basic tone and musicianship.

Some of my favorite students are those in vocal transition. Leading them through this period of vocal instability and on into victorious stability is a delight. The main issue is that the vocal folds will almost double, sometimes within a few months. This leaves the voice unstable and flipping back and forth between their child voice and their new adult voice. As the vocal folds become thicker and more rectangular, different muscle patterns need to be developed to control the vibrations. It is not unusual for a boy to start a school year as a soprano, be an alto by Christmas and a tenor by the end of the year.

For the boy, learning to control the changing voice is partially a trial-and-error process. There are, however, several things that can be done to smooth out and speed up this process.

Here are several powerful and proven exercises, not only for the voice in transition, but, for all singers. They can be found on the Complete Expanding Your Range CD, but I thought it was worth explaining here.

  • Exercise 1: The Descending Hah. Begin doing a descending ‘Hah’ sound. It can be on a continuous slide or on five tone scales (GFEDC etc) This should start high in the light falsetto, or “child” voice and continue down into the lower, speaking register without allowing it to change into the new, lower speaking sound. It will resemble someone imitating Mickey Mouse. The goal is to literally overlap the registers by taking the falsetto, or child sound into the lower notes. Ultimately, this will begin to eliminate the flip, or crack in that area between the registers. The ultimate goal is that there would only be one, long and fully connected range.

  • Exercise 2: In my mind this is the singly most effective warmup and range-smoothing exercise there is. The sound is similar to what we hear babies do. Even horses are a great example when they allow their loose, floppy lips to flutter. Listen to this audio demonstration

  • Exercise 3: The other great exercise for bridging that new and unfamiliar, in-between area is the siren exercise. Here are the siren and lip trill exercises used together:

Finally, when it comes to any young singer, please remember this: Don’t allow any singer to sing in a range that is clearly uncomfortable and invites pushing and straining. This can injure the physical voice and make the whole idea of singing unattractive… for ever.

Q: If I get completely stumped with a particular problem is there someplace I can turn?
A: Yes. Vocal Coach Chris Beatty is happy to respond briefly to emails and can even take scheduled, short phone calls. For more extensive input and feedback our 45 minute Online video/audio coaching is perfect. Using Skype or FaceTime Chris, you and your students can see and hear each other and accomplish a tremendous amount in a single session. See details by clicking on the Personal Lessons tab at the vocalcoach.com site.

Using Vocal Coach Singer In The Homeschool Environment

Like all the Vocal Coach training materials, Singer is a proven, interactive tool for everyone who speaks and sings. That’s all of us, including teens.

Let’s Look At What You Have

7 Training CDs:

  • Getting Started
  • Complete Breathing
  • Complete Warm-Up
  • Complete Tone
  • Complete Expanding Your Range
  • Complete Diction
  • Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:

  • Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2 for the tenor/soprano range.
  • Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2 for the bass/baritone/alto range.

Additional educational tools:

  • Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to ensure success
  • Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
  • Personal Singer’s Journal (Getting Started Journal & Workout Journal) to track your progress as you become a better singer
  • Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more thoughtful song selections

These Areas And More Are Presented In Singer

While most Singer students enjoy singing at some level, many are equally interested in developing their best daily speaking voice. A strong, well controlled speaking voice can be an important part of public speaking, teaching and coaching. These skills are also valuable for corporate leaders, actors, salespersons, voiceover talents and of course singers of all styles of music. Here’s what they will learn:

  • How the voice works
  • How to find your best sound
  • How to control breathing even when you’re a bit tense or nervous
  • How to be expressive in presenting your message
  • How to find and expand your vocal range
  • How to warm up and cool down the voice for both singing and speaking

After a topic is presented, interactive exercises take it from just principle to applied, understood and owned skill. And it’s fun!

Working With Vocal Coach Singer

We recommend working through the lessons topically, with regular reviews of the most foundational areas. Because our voices are physical, mechanical and acoustical they are using almost all aspects of voice technique all the time whether singing or speaking. Equally important is the fact that muscles have memory, and practice makes permanent (not necessarily perfect). That being the case, it’s a good idea to begin with the Getting Started CD and then move right into the three most foundational CD’s:

  • Complete Breathing, deals with Posture and Breathing in a fun, practical way. These principles and exercises are critically important in establishing the necessary foundation for all things vocal.
  • Complete Warm-up teaches the “How and Why” of warming up the voice. Singers are vocal athletes, literally. Once they grasp this concept and apply a few exercises they will have added one of the most practical principles for keeping a healthy voice.
  • Complete Tone is one of the most fun and revealing CD’s in our series. It quickly makes the singer or speaker aware of what a free, efficient sound quality feels like. That’s right, I said feels like. That’s because the sensations of good singing and speaking are one of the few things that you can always depend on. Room acoustics and sound systems may vary, but the physical sensations you feel do not.

Beyond these foundations you can divide the topics into as many sections as your curriculum timeframe allows. Remember: Return frequently to the first three foundations. They deserve and require regular review make the other areas possible. Also, print and use the Getting Started Journal and Workout Journals. They can be photo-copied from the Guidebook or, even better, printed directly from the Singer Printable Lead Sheets and Journals disc.

Answering Your Questions On Vocal Coach Singer

Q: How can I protect a junior high or high school student who imitates professional singers to the point of pushing and at times almost yelling?

A: Education. Let your singers know that most contemporary singers didn’t start off singing those songs in those keys. Additionally, much of the “amazing” sound is the result of electronics during production and in concerts. This isn’t to say they’re not good singers, but in many respects they have lots of help.

That being said, many of the really good singers in almost any genre have had, or continue to have vocal coaches. Many use our material at home, in the studio and while on the road. For the same reason that the best athletes continue to coach and train, singers should always be working to maximize their skills through regular, careful exercise and in-put from trained coaches.

Q: My boys voice is about to change. What can I do to help him go through this smoothly?
(This answer also appears in the Teaching Kids To Sing series in the Homeschool Environment section of this site.)

A: When a boy’s voice is transitioning into a young man’s voice it can be unsettling. It is also normal, and can also be a really, really fun and special time. Here are my thoughts on the boy’s voice in transition:
Your job is to educate your young singer, anticipate what’s happening, or going to happen and enjoy the journey. It’s not unlike explaining puberty and adolescence. It is better done sooner, than later to avoid any misunderstanding. When a boy understands how and why his voice will be changing there is no fear and no surprise, just life happening.

Singing is not primarily a strength-related motor task like much of what goes on in football, basketball or soccer. Instead, it depends on efficiency, coordination and precision in the motor function of the larynx, respiratory system and articulators. That takes, maturity, fitness and discipline.

In their early teenage years, both boys and girls are still very much developing and should not push their voices beyond what the instrument can easily do. These young singers should, however, be working to perfect their posture, breathing, basic tone and musicianship.

Some of my favorite students are those in vocal transition. Leading them through this period of vocal instability and on into victorious stability is a delight. The main issue is that the vocal folds will almost double, sometimes within a few months. This leaves the voice unstable and flipping back and forth between their child voice and their new adult voice. As the vocal folds become thicker and more rectangular, different muscle patterns need to be developed to control the vibrations. It is not unusual for a boy to start a school year as a soprano, be an alto by Christmas and a tenor by the end of the year.

For the boy, learning to control the changing voice is partially a trial-and-error process. There are, however, several things that can be done to smooth out and speed up this process.

Here are several powerful and proven exercises, not only for the voice in transition, but, for all singers. They can be found on the Complete Expanding Your Range CD, but I thought it was worth explaining here.

  • Exercise 1: The Descending Hah. Begin doing a descending ‘Hah’ sound. It can be on a continuous slide or on five tone scales (GFEDC etc) This should start high in the light falsetto, or “child” voice and continue down into the lower, speaking register without allowing it to change into the new, lower speaking sound. It will resemble someone imitating Mickey Mouse. The goal is to literally overlap the registers by taking the falsetto, or child sound into the lower notes. Ultimately, this will begin to eliminate the flip, or crack in that area between the registers. The ultimate goal is that there would only be one, long and fully connected range.

  • Exercise 2: In my mind this is the singly most effective warmup and range-smoothing exercise there is. The sound is similar to what we hear babies do. Even horses are a great example when they allow their loose, floppy lips to flutter. Listen to this audio demonstration

  • Exercise 3: The other great exercise for bridging that new and unfamiliar, in-between area is the siren exercise. Here are the siren and lip trill exercises used together:

Finally, when it comes to any young singer, please remember this: Don’t allow any singer to sing in a range that is clearly uncomfortable and invites pushing and straining. This can injure the physical voice and make the whole idea of singing unattractive… for ever.

Q: If I need some counsel or my student needs a little feed-back is someone at Vocal Coach available?
A: Yes. Vocal Coach Chris Beatty is happy to respond briefly to emails and can even take scheduled, short phone calls. For more extensive input and feedback our 45 minute Online video/audio coaching is perfect. Using Skype or FaceTime Chris, you and your students can see and hear each other and accomplish a tremendous amount in a single session. See details by clicking on the Personal Lessons tab at the vocalcoach.com site.