early childhood

What to Teach When in Children's Choir: Preschool

What to Teach When in Children's Choir: Preschool

Over the past month, or so, I’ve been putting together a few lists of what to teach when in children’s choir. Here are the links for the other posts in this series, in case you missed them:

What to Teach When: Younger Elementary (K-2nd grade)
What to Teach When: Older Elementary (3rd-5th grade)

Today, I’m going to talk about what to teach when in preschool choirs.

There’s no denying it: preschool choirs are pretty adorable. Watching them sing and do hand motions and wave to mom and dad is both sweet and heart-warming. But, if you’ve ever worked with preschool-age children, you know that leading a group of little singers each week takes a lot of thought, care, and intentional planning (and energy!).

Related Post: How to Create a Seamless, Joyful Experience for Your Preschool Choir

Preschool choir rehearsals often have lots of vocal exploration, steady beat movement activities, musical play (with instruments and story-telling), and lots of opportunities to experience musical contrasts: fast vs. slow, high vs. low, soft vs. loud, short vs. long.

Perspectives Publication


Ashley Danyew | Perspectives Publication Hi friends!

I am thrilled to announce that my article "Developing Creative Concert Experiences for Young Children in a Community Setting" has been published! This was a really big goal of mine last year and I am honored and humbled to see it come to life. See a sneak peek of my article below:

Ashley Danyew | Perspectives Publication

If you're a member of the Early Childhood Music & Movement Association, you can read the latest issue of Perspectives (Vol. 9, Issue 1) and my full article on their website. Thanks so much to everyone at ECMMA/Perspectives for this opportunity!

The Children's Concert - Recap

Last week, I wrote this post about a children’s concert Steve and I were presenting for a group of preschoolers.

Originally, we were told to expect 8-10 children and a few adults.  With one week still to go, 35 children were registered (i.e. they called to say they were coming.  The concert was free.) including two preschools!  We were very excited at the prospect of having such a big crowd and knew we wanted them to have some space to get up and move around a little bit.  We decided to rearrange the front of the Sanctuary to give us as much floor space as possible.  And it’s a good thing we did.  Imagine our surprise when 56 children (ages 2-5) and their grown-ups (including three preschools!) crowded into the church at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.  We were overwhelmed but of course, thrilled!

We sang.  We danced.  We moved. We learned about the saxophone. We made funny sounds and learned the difference between high and low. We listened to several short pieces, waved our arms, and patted our legs.

It was a great musical experience!

The Children's Concert

I love working with young children, particularly when we have the opportunity to sing!  In my experience, most 4-year-olds are confident, adventurous, effervescent music-makers and they learn new things so quickly!  When the opportunity arose to share a free program of music with a group of children from the community (ages 3-5), I was eager to take part.  Together, Steve (known today as “Saxophone Steve”) and I planned a dynamic and interactive program featuring a series of familiar songs as well as a few new things.

1. Hello there.  We’ll begin with a simple call and response song to get everyone singing and moving.

2. Instrument Demo.  With a surprise entrance, we’ll segue smoothly into a demonstration of the saxophone.  Steve will talk about the high and low sounds a saxophone can make and ask the children to echo him.  We’ll talk about funny sounds and pretty sounds and use a few short, prepared pieces to demonstrate a variety of musical styles.  We’ll have the children participate by moving while we play.  When we talk about animal sounds, we’ll lead right into a crowd favorite, “Old McDonald.”

3. Sing-a-long.  We’ll lead a brief sing-a-long of songs we think they might know: “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star;” “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider;” and “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  We’ll talk about our different voices (whisper voice, speaking voice, and singing voice) and move along with the music as we sing.  Simple visuals will help us explore form and repeated material.  Sandwiched in between the songs they know, we’ll incorporate a song I think will be less familiar: “Oats, Peas, Beans” (with a simple movement activity).

4. Short Performance.  To conclude the program, we’ll end with a short, prepared piece in ABA form (“Old Joe Clark”) and ask our little listeners to listen for the change in sections and respond with a given motion.  Hopefully, this will keep them engaged in their listening.

Think of us at 10 a.m. as we gather in a room with 35+ preschoolers and their grown-ups for a time of music-making, teaching, and learning!

Image Credit: Nicholas Garofalo