The Tuneables is an award-winning children's music education DVD and CD series designed to teach the key building blocks of music at a critical time in a child's development. Sponsored by the Music Intelligence Project, this fun, interactive program engages children in songs and activities that provide a foundation of music understanding and growth in intellectual development. Ages 3-8.
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Young children sing in tune best when the first several songs they learn are in the key of D. This key places the child's voice in the optimal singing range, neither too high nor too low, for controlling the pitch. Learning to sing in tune is the fundamental performance skill needed for successful tonal learning.
The pitch "D" above middle "C" is frequently the lowest pitch that is sung consistently in tune by young children without forcing the tone. A successful introduction to song singing is through two-note songs on the tones D and F-Sharp (DO and MI) in the key of D major. This provides the opportunity to sing in a comfortable range, match pitch patterns that are easily learned, and begin developing understanding and an "ear" for the primary tones of the D major chord--the home chord of the key and the foundation of major tonality.
The song repertoire and singing range is expanded by gradually adding additional tones--such as, "A" (SOL), next "E" (RE) and "G" (FA), and then "B" (LA). These tones encompass the range of a sixth (the first six notes of the scale), the usual singing range (or "sweet spot") of most young children. Choosing songs that include pitches higher than this range should be delayed until the child has developed skills for singing the six-note songs in tune. Expanding the singing range downward should be avoided until the voice matures enough to accomplish good tone production on the lower pitches. If a child has difficulty expanding the range in either direction, continue with songs in the basic range to provide further readiness experiences.
Singing familiar or new songs only in the Key of D should not be abandoned until in-tune singing has stabilized and until children have learned to recognize and name tonal patterns (using tonal syllables) that form the song melodies. Utilizing one key helps to stabilize and reinforce the tonal learning and avoid confusion that tends to occur when transposition to other keys is introduced too early or haphazardly.
Choosing song resources for children is challenging because many recordings and printed song collections give little attention to the young child's optimal singing range. Look for programs, such as The Tuneables, that focus on provided singing experiences that are in the best key, are sequentially arranged to appropriately expand the range, and build the tonal understandings needed for musical success and enjoyment.
Developing a sense of tonality helps to improve singing in tune, playing an instrument, learning new music, and developing an appreciation of great music. Readiness for developing this sense begins as soon as very young children begin hearing and performing music.
Voice flexibility is fundamental to developing a young child's singing voice. The young singer who is still learning to control the voice usually can benefit from exercises and song experiences that extend the singing range upward. Imitating small animal sounds, like birds or mice, or singing on a high note, like C or D an octave above middle C, can be helpful in getting the children to use the upper range of their singing voice.
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