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  • Writer's pictureMillie

Take Time in Life: Three grades, three teaching approaches.

If you or your students have ever worked with Dr. Judy Bowers, then there's a high probability you already know the song Take Time in Life. It's one of her go-to simple part songs, and now it's one of mine as well. There are so many great things you can do with this simple piece. After I initially teach it at the beginning of the year, I continue to revisit it during my warm-up routine to work on vocal technique, expression, holding name it!

Here are the lyrics:

I was passing by,

My brother called to me,

and he said to me

"you better take time in life"


better take time in life,

better take time in life,

better take time in life,

'cause you've got far away to go

(to extend the verses, you can replace brother with sister, or mother)

There's also a great little accompanying part that is usually taught first on solfege (shown using the first letter of each solfege symbol):

D D L S (take time in life)

D D D L (take time in life)

D D L S (take time in life,  'cause you've got)

S S S D (far away to go)

It's the second week of school for me this week, and I've been teaching and reviewing this song with all of my classes. In the videos below, you can see how I taught the same song in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes.

6th grade

My 6th grade classes have been focusing on learning the melody. While teaching by rote, I'm also going through and reinforcing tall space, vocal technique, pronunciation, and full body engagement. Sorry about the camera angle, I didn't realize until after class that I only had half of my students on camera!

At this point in the year, I teach a lot of warm-ups by rote by simply saying "my turn," "your turn."

7th grade

I opted to start with the ostinato with my 7th graders. The range is really approachable for my boys with changing voices. As they are repeating the ostinato, I sang the melody on top for newer students to hear. (I have between 7-10 new students in each 7th grade class this year). Then, I rotated each group back and forth between the melody and ostinato, before letting the sopranos take the higher harmony. The higher harmony is just the melody up a third.

8th grade

The first thing you might notice about this video in comparison to 7th grade, is that I modulated to a different key. The boys in this class are in a different place in their voice change, so I try to adapt to wherever they are. We also talk about forward placement when we review the melody. My boys sometimes try to place the sound farther back when they first begin singing in their lower range. Having them think forward...sometimes to an extreme...helps them access those higher, crunchy notes. I keep the boys in the front row in 7th and 8th grade so that I can easily hear them. You might even notice that I'll move closer to them to listen, help them out, or make adjustments.

Songs like this are great for building on solid singing technique. No matter how long they've been in my class, I always go back to stuff like this at the beginning of the year to review and establish technique. Plus, the comfort of a familiar song allows them to take more risks in other trying notes you're not sure you have!

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