At Music in Unison, we strongly believe that singing and movement are the body's first musical instrument. Before we can apply musical knowledge to an external factor (ie an instrument) we need to make sense internally first. Of course, that isn’t to say that you have to be Celine Dion, or Frank Sinatra - it’s not necessarily about your singing talent, but more about the things you can learn that can be translated onto an instrument.
This is why, in our sessions, we focus on a musical concept (such as rhythm or pitch) in several different ways. We tend to use the voice, to vocalise the concept and the body (maybe jumping, clapping, using balls or scarves), before we translate this onto a simple instrument, such as the claves, or shakers. This ensures that the children get a full understanding of the concept and how to embody it before going onto the next stage.
Here are 5 reasons why singing is foundational for any musical learning.
1. Singing helps you develop your sense of pitch: When you sing, you have to learn to match the pitch of the music, which can help improve your sense of pitch and your ability to match pitch with instruments in the future. Singing along to a piano accompaniment and matching pitch with the notes, for example, can help you practise the skills you need to translate into playing a piano yourself in the future.
2. Singing helps you improve your sense of rhythm: Singing requires you to pay attention to the rhythmic structure of the music and to maintain a steady tempo, which can help improve your sense of rhythm and your ability to stay on beat. Whether you go on to lead a band through a percussion instrument, or need to be aware of your own rhythm as a solo musician, the building blocks start by being able to sing along in rhythm.
3. Singing helps you develop your sense of phrasing and expression: When you sing, you have to shape the melody and convey the emotions of the song, which can help you improve your sense of phrasing and expression. The best performers manage to make a song their own by playing around with their phrasing and expression, but of course to break the rules, you have to learn them first.
4.Singing helps you improve your breath control: Singing requires you to control your breath in order to sustain long phrases and reach high notes, which can help improve your overall breath control. If you then go on to play a wind instrument (woodwind or brass for example) your breath control is even more important.
5. Singing helps you develop your vocal range: Singing can help you expand your vocal range and increase the range of pitches you can comfortably sing. Although there is an element of your natural range being what it is, with practise, you can develop and expand your vocal range and become a better musician.