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Voice lessons curriculum

The curriculum will focus on the individual needs of students (Froehlich, 2006). Focusing on a student’s individual learning preference is one of the main aspects of critical pedagogy (Abrahams, 1997). Teachers using this curriculum will plan a series of musical activities that are unique to each student. This follows McCarthy’s (2000) belief that there are different learning styles and therefore each student will learn in a different way. Once a curriculum is developed that better suits student educational needs, students will feel that they are important and respected (Abrahams, 1997).

Curriculum Reasons and Rationales

The curriculum will be flexible and student-centered in order to best suit student needs. Because of this, the curriculum map will be separated into six sections (Appendix B). The time it will take to complete a section will vary based on the student’s ability to grasp new concepts, the amount of time the student spends in lessons and the amount of time the student spends practicing. The curriculum map will outline which concepts should be taught together and in which order these concepts should be taught. The curriculum also will allow time for interruptions such as a student preparing for an audition, a student with a sudden interest in a song or a student who decides to sing holiday music instead of the chosen repertoire.

Because the curriculum will be student-centered, concepts will be listed, but specific activities will not be pre-developed (Froehlich, 2006). The concepts presented in one section will not be mastered by the end of the section. Therefore, the concepts of previous sections will continue to be practiced even when the student starts learning new concepts in later sections. Although concepts will continue to need practicing, mastery of these concepts should occur throughout the curriculum, or at least by the final section of the curriculum map. Both the teacher and the student will assess student progress and mastery of concepts through discussion and activities.

Each of the learning objectives outlined in the curriculum map will be equally important for students to learn. Activities will be developed to teach the concepts presented in each learning objective. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss the importance of each learning objective, explain my reasons and rationales for including these learning objectives in the curriculum, present suggested activities or exercises and discuss the concepts that will be learned in each section of the curriculum map.

Technique.

Students should learn vocal and breathing techniques because if students sing without understanding these techniques vocal issues could arise (McKinney, 2005). Vocal problems such as muscle tension, over singing, pushing air through the vocal chords and nodules can seriously affect a student’s vocal health (Mathis, 1990). In some cases these issues can be handled with vocal and breathing exercises (Cahill, 2010). Learning vocal and breathing techniques can also strengthen the tone of the voice, extend vocal range and allow students to sing longer phrases (Sipley, 1993). This objective will be included in the curriculum because teachers have a moral obligation to make sure that student needs are met (Froehlich, 2006). Healthy voices that will allow students to continue singing throughout their life are necessary and therefore, vocal and breathing technique will be required as a learning objective in this curriculum.

Technique will be taught through vocal and breathing exercises. Exercises can be modified to suit individual student needs, but the concepts listed in the curriculum map will be taught to every student. Students who follow the curriculum map will learn new concepts in each section. In the first section, students will learn how to take low, relaxed breaths. Relaxation and meditation exercises will help students loosen up the tension they have when they breathe (Fett, 1993). Students will develop their ability to match pitch and develop their vocal tone by singing ear-training exercises that require students to match pitch with an instrument or voice (Moon, 2006). The second section will involve students developing and extending their vocal range by practicing vocal exercises of more than one octave (Cahill, 2010). Students will also focus on using the diaphragm to control the breath. There are many breathing exercises that will allow students to see the movement of the diaphragm when breathing (Gackle, 1987). In the third section, students will learn about the different dynamics and will practice singing their chosen songs at different volumes (Hilty, 2011). Students will continue to work on taking low breaths controlled by the diaphragm and also will practice taking quick catch breaths when singing their songs. Concepts taught in the fourth section will include singing in the head voice, chest voice and mix voice and singing melodic phrases. Students will practice melodic phrasing in their songs by changing dynamics, adding slurs or other phrase markings and planning where they will breathe. In the fifth section, students will practice switching between the three voices by singing vocal exercises that have large ranges. Students will learn how to breathe in preparation for long phrases (Cahill, 2010). In the final section, students will sing vocal exercises that allow them to experiment with different vocal tones (Laukka, 2003). Students will continue to practice their diaphragm breathing until it becomes second nature. By training the voice and body in these ways, students will gain control over their vocal technique and be able to sing more difficult musical pieces without harming their voices.

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