Singing in parts is always a big deal. The first time your students do it, they feel super accomplished! But in reality, part work is something you can do with even your Kindergarten students. Canons and partner songs seem like the obvious answers, but there are ways you can start students before you approach those! Starting partwork activities with young students can make those harmony parts seem a lot less daunting. Here are three ways to prep your students for part singing.

1. Ostinato work

Ostinatos are simple to create and even Kindergarten can be successful with them. Here are a few ways to make them work for you.

  • Create a short (1 measure) ostinato to play or sing while the students sing the words. Split them up into two groups, you take one. This is a great way to start.
  • After students are successful with other people performing the second part, they can try performing the second part. This can be playing on Orff instruments, or tapping a rhythm. Break it down and start with playing one note ostinati in easy rhythms like half or whole notes and move to one note on a more complex rhythm or a two note bordun.
  • Use body percussion ostinati while students sing. Not only do they love the challenge, but it can help engage them in different parts of music at the same time.

2. Echos

Echo work makes students think, can help them practice new solfege correctly, and as an added bonus, help them be able to sing their part while also listening to another. Here are some ways to do echo work.

  • Start with alternating. T sings, Ss echo while T is silent.
    Looks like: |T|Ss|T|Ss
  • From there, move to T creating new pattern while Ss are echoing the previous.
    Looks like: (Pretend the { bracket is a grand staff).
    {|T1|T2 |T3 |T4
    {| |Ss1|Ss2|Ss3

    Here are some ways you can change up the echo work so it doesn’t always seem boring!
  • T sings, Ss echo (text, neutral syllable, solfa)
  • Sings a neutral syllable, Ss echo in solfa
  • Play on an instrument, Ss echo
  • T sings, Ss echo 4 beats later

3. Challenge! Sing and Sign!

Singing and using solfege hand signs at the same time is something a lot of us do often. For a challenge, think about your musicianship classes if you’ve taken your Kodaly levels and add this element in to your students singing! If having them try this in canon with themselves seems cruel (maybe…) then try one of these:

  • Sing a known song and sign the tonic of the chords along with it.
  • Sign an ostinato (even if it’s only a repeated note over and over) while singing a known song.
  • Sing a known song and sign the chords along with it. It might help to put the chords up on the board under the words.

I hope that this has given you some great ideas to get started to prep your students for part singing!

Melissa Stouffer-1

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