What’s it like to rehearse on Zoom?
We’re all learning new ways to be in touch with each other, and we’re so fortunate to have platforms that allow us to see each other even when we can’t be together! Of course over any online platform there is a lag when we sing, so there’s no way for us to really feel like we are singing together. Also, the wires support only so much sound going through at one time, so when lots of people make sound at the same time there’s usually just a garble, and sometimes people get left out of the sound all together.

When we rehearse over zoom, students in the ensemble come on and catch up with each other for a few minutes. Then everyone mutes their microphones, so singers are able to hear me but not each other. Singers sing along with me and often are asked to volunteer to demonstrate their own work for the group, unmuting so they can be heard. We learn lots of songs, and we also practice rhythm exercises, feeling a beat, keeping a steady beat, moving through time, noticing differences like loud and soft, high and low, fast and slow. It’s fun, and we learn a lot!

My child doesn’t like to be on the camera. How can I help her join a group?
This is true of so many children! And the answer may be different for every person. First, please encourage without pushing. Have her watch the lesson once or twice so she can see that others are participating and so that she gets a feeling for the very positive nature of our work together. Join in with her, and participate fully. If possible you can try setting zoom so that she doesn’t see herself on the screen — one of the biggest covid-time changes for me is the amount of time I’m spending looking at myself, and it can be very disconcerting! Also, please reach out to me (Leandra) to let me know what’s happening; it might help for me to meet individually with you and your child for a few minutes to help her warm up and feel known.

Are K-1 ensembles open to boys as well as girls?
Yes! Come one, come all!

Can my child take private voice lessons with you?
In general, I believe that the best place for a child to learn to sing is in the context of a choral community where the child is hearing many people sing and where she is helping create a sound that’s bigger than she is. And sometimes children have special interests that are helped by private lessons, either once in a while or ongoing. During this time of covid, when we can’t make that big beautiful sound together, a child might benefit a great deal from the feedback of and individual contact with a teacher. So yes, I will be teaching private lessons during this time and into the future. I welcome your child into my studio, zoom-wise or, before too long (I hope), in person.

Why learn to sing?

Singing is a basic form of human expression.  It adds meaning to our words and allows us to express ourselves even without words.  There is no more direct way of making music or of reaching the soul than singing.

My child loves to sing but just doesn’t sound good! Can she/he learn?
All people who can talk can learn to sing, and the earlier they begin the better.  Singing is learned – people are not born knowing how to sing any more than they are born knowing how to speak a language.  The process of learning the language of music is similar to learning a spoken language — a person is immersed in the language for years, is spoken or sung to with expression, participates in the language with babbling gradually becoming effective communication, uses the language to communicate expressively, learns the symbols that represent the language, begins to develop understanding of grammatical concepts, learns to read the language, learns to use the language as written expression, and develops increasingly complex understanding of the use of the language.

The first step of this process of learning the language of music is often left out these days. Children grow up watching shows or listening to music, but sometimes the children are not fully engaged musically by adults. Decades ago the norm was for children to be bounced on their parents’ knees with silly rhymes, bobbed to pacify, rocked to sleep to the tune and time of a lullaby. When people naturally and expressively sing to their children, children become musical people — they move in time to music, and they carry a tune independently and expressively.

If you are not a very confident singer yourself, come along with your child and learn some tools to help your child learn to sing well.

I want to sing with my child, but he doesn’t seem to be able to sing as well when I’m singing as when I’m not.  What’s going on?
Did you know that a young child’s voice is not physically capable of singing below about middle D on the piano?  When an adult sings at the bottom of her voice, the child’s voice is not capable of going that low, and the child will either grumble around at the bottom of his voice and never match the pitch (until it comes into his range) or try to sing up an octave.  Adults who sing with children need to pitch the music high enough for the children to sing.  Try letting the child lead – let her begin the song, and then you sing along, in whatever high voice is required.  You’ll be amazed at how naturally the singing comes to her.  Sing like this (normal range for the child, possibly high for you) for a while, experiment, practice, and eventually it will become natural for both of you.  Eventually your child’s range will increase, or your child will sing in the soprano range (high) with enough confidence and strength to allow you to sing lower, in harmony with her – there’s nothing more fun or rewarding than that!