One of the most important components of Kodaly-based music education is the use of the voice and singing as a primary form of engaging with and making music. The voice should be the first means of musical expression before any other instrumental exploration.
It's therefore pretty important that we teach our students how to correctly use their voices! Most prep/kinder/foundation students won't come to their first lesson already being able to match pitch so don't expect to be able to teach them a song and have them copy it back tunefully right away.
Instead, layer your teaching with these little vocal exploration exercises throughout the first term or two on your journey to pitch-matching and tuneful singing!
Here are a few ideas and approaches to try:
Help them identify that they have different types of voices
Have your students echo phrases such as "this is my speaking voice" or "this is my whispering voice" or "THIS IS MY SHOUTING VOICE" and from time to time sing them "this is my singing voice" (alternating between so & mi - the minor third proven to be the easiest interval for young voices to sing in tune). This can also be an opportunity for creativity as you have your students suggest voices of their own.
Perform finger plays and spoken chants that include both singing voice and speaking voice. Have your students just listen and enjoy the first time, then have them join in on later repetitions. After a while you can ask them to identify which parts are your speaking voice and which are your singing voice.
Explore vocal sirens using props and shapes
It's far easier for young students to make siren-like noises which explore a wide range of pitches than it is to try and replicate a single pitch. Have them follow the "shape" of these props with their voices
Feathers - throw a feather in the air and follow it with your voice as it floats down
Using a small fabric star, make a "shooting star" travel across the sky with your voice
Arrange a length of string in zig zags or smooth curves (also a great precursor to legato and staccato articulation!)
Draw pictures and shapes with your finger in the air or with a marker on a whiteboard
Toss a silk scarf in the air and follow it with your voice as it floats down
Move a slide whistle up and down and have your students echo what they hear. Make a conversation out of it!
Build awareness of high and low pitch
There are a variety of songs which either follow an ascending/descending scale or compare intervals of an octave. These help students to build an awareness of high and low pitch and develop their ability to compare and contrast them. I'll be writing more about these next week, so watch this space!