If you have legs, you can dance; if you have a voice, you can sing

In “Singing the primary curriculum”(Biddulph & Wheeler, 2013), the writers use the mentality of “if you have legs, you can dance; if you have a voice, you can sing” to create vocal activities in a classroom setting.  As I read through the chapter, it left me to question myself: Can I actually teach a class how to sing when I’m not a singer? I am a classically trained pianist; the only time I sing is when I do music production. I would sing into the software that is preset to the perfect sound I would like to sound like. But teaching in a classroom, really?

In Anna Humberstone’s lecture (2015), she has brought us many wonderful warm ups and games. She also said music educators should learn to love and appreciate their own voice. I am starting to become more and more aware of this recently. I went to singing lessons; I started to sing more in my own music, and I even started to encourage singing in my private piano teaching lesson. What I have discovered is that singing creates a great connection and it is based on building trust in a group setting. Biddulph and Wheeler (2013) wrote a caste study “Eve’s Story of Singing Success” (pp. 73-74), in which Eve is not a confident singer because the others judged her singing skills. As the teacher encourages her, she performs more collaboratively and individually. Her improvement is drastic and her final performance shocked the others. The case study shows that we are all egocentric, we imagine how the others think of us and therefore we are afraid of the reaction of rejection.

In the “Singing the primary curriculum” Activity 6.2, modeling humility eliminates the fear of rejection by learning collaboratively (p. 72). In the activity, the students are invited to lead a song, finding out the confident child, and then letting that child lead and teach the other children. The activity puts the teacher as a learner so the students would feel like it is a collaborative learning community instead of a lecture. I have experimented with this concept in my private piano teaching. I played ‘Celebrity Heads’ song names with my 6 year old student. We had to sing out tunes to let each other guess which song it is. My student was blushing when I asked him to sing and he buried his face in his mother’s stomach. Then I said, “Okay, I’ll go first! Then you and mommy will go next, how’s that?” Then he slowly moved out of his comfort zone and sang out the tunes by himself. I would imagine this would apply better in a classroom context when there are more students to sing with, lessening the feeling of isolation and pressure.

Another singing resource I have built for private and classroom teaching is an online website on an arrangement of “Just the Way You Are” (2015), where I have recorded my own singing in layers, so that the students can click on the lyrics to hear how the part sounds like. They love the look of the website and they have gradually loved to sing the song outside of the classroom with their friends, and more importantly, they are more confident with singing now.


Biddulph, J., & Wheeler, J. (2013). Singing the primary curriculum. In T. Cremin (Ed.), Teaching music creatively (pp. 69-84). Retrieved from: http://www.eblib.com

Chan, O.F. (2015). Just the way you are. Retrieved April 26, 2015, from http://onfungchan.wix.com/jtwyr

Humberstone, A. (2015). The singing voice—vocal scores. [pdf]. Retrieved fromhttps://elearning.sydney.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_53764_1&content_id=_2896202_1

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