In today’s episode, Tara talks with music educator/performer/songwriter Carol Nicodemi all about children’s voices and what it was like to work with children in the school system for 25+ years. Carol shares from personal experience how she worked with children ages 5-11 years old. You will be inspired by her ideas and the ways that she got children singing in super healthy, creative and fun ways!!
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Carol’s love of music started early as a child, from her mom and through another friends whom she could listen to music with.
At age 16, she became a music counselor at a day camp and found her love of teaching music to children. Her experience there showed her how much she enjoyed sharing what she knew about music with them.
During a student teaching experience, Carol was assigned to junior high. She had to come up with a creative way to teach the kids guitar, including them all.
Carol got her first official teaching job at an elementary school and once she got there, she was committed for the long haul, doing 25 years at this school!
Carol used many creative ways to inspire and get the kids to sing—from age 5-11.
- She used creative fun melodies like nursery rhymes and traditional children songs to start the kids and test their voices for pitch, range, rhythm and more.
- What was unique was that she would choose children who had a gift in their singing to stand next to and help those who struggled more. She arranged the seating so that the children with the best voices sat close to those who had more difficulty.
Carol talks about the range of children’s voices and ability to sing.
- For children’s songs, kids shouldn’t sing below middle C and then maybe an octave or so above that.
- “Don’t sing louder—try to sing a little lighter.” Kids can’t sing louder when it’s in a part of their voice that they can’t phonate well.
Carol used several techniques to help kids learn different music skills.
- She used marching, moving, clapping exercises and percussion to help with rhythm.
- For older kids, she used round clapping.
- For pitch, she used Kodaly hand signals, as well as made up exercises that drew them in. Plus scales, more hand signals and moving their body according to pitch.
- She also made up songs about each skill they were learning to help them remember.
- She addressed breath with the older kids and let them feel it, sense it, hear it and try it.
- "When a baby breathes—when a baby lies on his or her back, its little tummy moves up and down and that’s the natural way to breathe…now the only thing you have to do is try that standing up.”
- With harmonies, she would use the kids who were able to hear harmonies to help the other kids. (On average, harmony is introduced in 3rd or 4th grade.)
Carol and her husband Ed (another music teacher) started writing songs geared towards children to give them more of a repertoire that was kid-friendly and not limited. They wanted to help address some of the kids’ needs like their feelings and self-esteem.
Carol found that working with children reinforced all that she knew as a musician.
“At its best, it was an elating feeling…it was a magical experience.”
You can reach Carol here for teaching or other info at her website:
Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/NicodemiSoundtrack
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