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  • Writer's pictureMillie

Do your students know how their instrument works?

"Mrs. Shiflett, whhhyyy do we have to sit up straight? Why do we have to open our mouth so's open, I'm singing I promise!"

Unlike band or orchestral instruments, singers can't actually SEE our instruments when we use them. We can't pull them out of the case, take them a part, and then put them back together.

But, that doesn't mean we can't show our students how the vocal folds work!

The last two or three years, I've found it really helpful to take a day in class and show my students what happens while they're singing.

The first video I use just gives a very general overview of the mechanics of the vocal folds. He uses a combination of animations and actual video footage using a scope to show someone's vocal folds as they sing. (I skip the last part of the video where he talks about determining your voice type.)

The second video that I just discovered this year, has no technical explanations, but shows four singers as they perform a short piece while scoped.

This one is short, so sometimes I let classes watch it twice: The first watch I let them take it all in, and the second time I point out specific things that are happening, or things to notice, like "look at the difference between the size of the soprano vocal folds on the left, and the bass vocal folds on the right."

Will your students giggle when they see the videos? Absolutely. Will some of them be grossed out? Of course. But I promise they will have more respect for how the voice works....and ask you a million follow up questions!

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