When my sister Joanna sings something other than soprano, she usually sings a high tenor. Like an octave higher than normal tenor.
My siblings and I used to chuckle over this fact. Not that singing a high tenor part is particularly funny, or that Joanna had trouble with that part. Not at all. We simply knew that if she sang tenor, it would come naturally. She would sing on auto-pilot. And when she played her violin, she gravitated toward the tenor line. Always.
You may well wonder why.
My older sister Jennifer taught Joanna to sing the tenor part by singing into her (that would be Joanna’s) ear. Over and over. Until it stuck. Singing into our ears was one way my older siblings taught us younger siblings to sing, especially to sing a particular part. The idea was to get us to focus on that part and that part alone.
As a child, I remember staring at the notes in the hymnbook, anxious for the day when I could read the notes for myself. I felt that I would become, finally, all-knowing and wise if I were to accomplish this feat. I think I almost envied my older siblings this magical gift.
It took some time, but as my siblings and I sang together over and over, the alto and tenor and soprano parts became more defined in my mind. And today if I happen to be standing next to my younger sister Monica in church, we automatically complement each other’s parts. If I decide to sing tenor, she fills in on alto. If I switch to alto, she immediately switches to a low tenor.
Although not every child will naturally hear a note and sing it clearly, I believe it is still important for children to learn to sing to the best of their ability. After all, singing is a form of worship and remains an integral part of any church service.
If you are wondering how in the world your child will ever sing soprano, much less anything else, don’t worry. Some children easily sing soprano or alto after they have listened to it long enough. Others (we won’t mention any names) struggle with hearing the pitch and may need more instruction and (or) patience.
Another way to teach your child to learn to hear a part is to have them listen to that part being played on the piano. Not using the chords or accompaniment–simply that part by itself. This technique isolates the part and allows your child to focus. The goal is to have your child train their ear to hear a certain part no matter what song you may sing.
If you are not musical yourself, find someone who knows how to read music and have them play the notes for your child. You may be surprised at how quickly your child will catch on and for lack of a better word, tune their ear to the sound of a specific part.
Trust me. It worked for Joanna. I know it will work for your child.
P.S. The picture in this post has no connection with Joanna singing tenor. Just thought I’d clear that up! Oh, and I apologize that this is coming to you a day late.