How to Get Boys to Sing and Hello, and Goodbye games for the Classroom.
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 1998
From: Susan Brum
I've always had more success with role models closer to home...like boys in upper grades who are "cool" talking to the younger boys about their voices changing, etc. I guess what makes it fly is whether or not your little boys have some older role models. I've always had luck with athletes coming to talk to my little guys about singing. Even better is a "big brother" who is considered popular, or maybe even a coach or p.e. teacher. I used all my men faculty members and associate headmaster on a concert with my boys once. I don't know who enjoyed it more!
I taught in a private school, with K-12. On several occasions I had ALL the boys sing together...once I did "The Yellow Rose of Texas" with all my 4-5th boys, joined by the 7-8th boys on the second verse, then finally by the high school boys in their choir tuxes...each carrying yellow roses to hand to the other boys...for the encore, the accompanist played while all those boys went out into the audience to present those roses to their mothers. That was a serious hit with the moms, and the boys thought they were SO cool.
Another strategy is to divide and conquer...Find the coolest ones you can in their classes, and call their moms; ask to work with them privately for a few minutes after school, and tell mom that the kid has potential...they will like getting the attention from you at home, but won't be embarrassed in front of their friends. Once you get a few boys singing for you privately, you can ask THEM what other boys would make good leaders in music. Word will get around. If you've got the right boys, most of the others will come around. I have found that, surprisingly, it's much easier to get boys to do things that are "risky" for their self-esteem in private, then give them lots of positive stroke without putting them on the spot in front of the other boys. This is not about not wanting to sing at this age. No one wants to risk being a "sissy".
Other shameless techniques that I've used successfully include betting a kid a dollar that he could not match my best singing voice. You have to pay up, of course, and be sure it's a kid that can do it if he wants to. Also, this sounds dumb, but they like to do this...I let them take turns giving the pitch from the tuning fork. They will do all sorts of things for that opportunity.
The main thing is to create a safe enviroment for them to get comfortable with that singing voice. Find some songs that boys like, the yuckier, the better.
My boys love "Let's Go a Huntin'" and "Cape Cod Girls", I'se the B'ye"...stuff like that. They aren't much into sunshine and rainbows by 9 & 10. The other thing is to not allow it to become "them" against "you". It's tricky. Good luck.
P.S. I teach college now, and interestingly enough, I often resort to the same shameless tactics with instrumental guys who think they are too cool tosing in elementary methods class. Boys will be boys, I guess. :)
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