Recommended by Rachel Steele, School Choral Specialist
The glorious sound of a 4 or 8 part high school choir doesn’t happen by accident. The foundations of good singing (and good music education in general,) start at a very young age. Early elementary singers, whether in a choir or general music class, usually focus on tone production, pitch matching, and unison singing of songs in a limited range. As students progress into middle and upper elementary, singing in parts becomes a common goal. 8 Steps to Harmonization is a new resource that helps teachers take a step-by-step approach to this skill.
While less experienced teachers sometimes make the mistake of thinking that singing 2 or more parts with a unison rhythm would be easiest, author Catherine DeLanoy recognizes that homophonic singing is actually the MOST difficult for young students, and works up to the skill with exercises and pieces in each of the following forms: Unison, Ostinato, Echo Songs, Descants, Partner Songs, Rounds, and Polyphonic Songs.
Each chapter of the book is devoted to one of the “steps,” and contains 4 or 5 pieces of music that can be used for warm-ups, class instruction, or even performance. The author also provides lesson planning ideas and teaching tips for the concept in general as well as each individual song. Songs are often used more than once. For example, the first time students study “When the Saints Go Marching In,” it is in the unison chapter. It returns in Step 4 (descants) allowing students to add to prior knowledge. Every song in the book is reproducible, and it comes with a CD-ROM that features the piano accompaniments as well as printable MP3 files of all the songs and exercises. Thought has also been given to making arrangements accessible to unchanged and changing voices for your male singers.
You might find “8 Steps to Harmonization” a useful resource for:
-Upper elementary classroom musicians or elementary choristers that are learning to sing in parts
-Middle School or High School choirs who could use a review or for groups with limited experience
– An “informance” where you show your students’ parents the skills and steps you have worked on to reach a certain point
-Teachers who have little experience with vocal pedagogy or teaching choral classes
Rachel Steele has been at Stanton’s since 2013. She previously taught middle school and high school band and choir for 13 years, and holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music education from The Ohio State University. Currently a member of the Heisey Wind Ensemble and a musician at Epiphany Lutheran Church (Pickerington OH), Rachel also enjoys reading, sewing, baking and the Pittsburgh Steelers!