Free vocal music "When Love is Kind" is one of those traditional songs you frequently find in older vocal music books. Download it for free, in four keys!
The big reasons to use this song...
There are two major reasons I give this song to all my beginning singers. Number one is the lyrics. Like much of the English language, the words of this free vocal music are full of dipthongs and other problems, which give singers opportunities to learn how to deal with these issues.
Here is a performer singing When Love is Kind, accompanied by a pianist playing a familiar arrangement of this song. Very nicely sung indeed, with a very smooth sound and no affectation, by a 10-year-old girl named Gabrielle. A pleasure to hear:
"When love is kind, cheerful and free, Love's sure to find, welcome from me." Just in the first sentence are a number of lessons in correct singing pronunciation.
What about dipthongs?
"Kind" and "find" need to have the sound of "ah," not the awful dipthong "uh-ih-EE." Here is where students start to develop the habit of elongating the first vowel sound of a dipthong, and either dropping off the final sound altogether, or tucking it in quickly with the final consonant. Thus, "When love is KAH-AH-AH-AH(eend)... and "Love's sure to FAH-AH-AH-AH(eend)"...
(To illustrate for beginning singers just what a dipthong is, I have them listen to me drag out the sound of the word "boil." It's not pretty. It goes something like this: "Boh-ih-ee-yuhl.")
Likewise, the EEE sound in "free" and "me" needs to be softened by dropping the jaw for a "north/south" orientation, rather than "east/west" with a wide smile. Think TALL, not WIDE, with the mouth. Flat, relaxed tongue.
And putting consonants on the ends of words...
There are lots more vowel and also consonant issues to be learned in this simple song... for example, ending the words with strong enough consonants to be really heard. I sing along with my students quite a bit initially in a song like this, exaggerating the final consonants.
"Kind" becomes "Kah-ah-ah-aheeNNNDDD!" I tell my singers, "Unlike regular talking, you want to over-do your words. Pretend you are telling a story to a group of three-year-old children who are having a hard time understanding you!" Don't worry; eventually, the exaggeration makes the lyrics audible, and not overdone as you might suspect.
Another issue that pops up is the use of the "H" sound when only a vowel should be heard: I call that singing with "Hah-hahs." You know what I mean - some people do it ON PURPOSE when singing melismatic passages such as are found in "For Unto Us a Child is Born": "bo -ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho" etc. It is true that it is much easier to move through the notes that way, and even, perhaps, easier to be accurate, but it gives a staccato feeling to the music, not desirable in small slurs such as we find in "When Love is Kind."
But this song goes kind of low - right through my student's "break"!
Well, another reason I find this piece useful -- as well as pretty! -- for beginning singers are the interval leaps which happen over and over. For girls and women, they must go through their lower break area (around E above Middle C) again and again, up, down, up, down. This brings home to them the issue of having a consistent sound over their breaks, and learning the difference between the registers called "chest" voice, "middle" voice, and "head" voice.
Of course, this is classical singing style we're talking about! For popular/rock/folk genre songs, rules are much more flexible (even, perhaps, non-existent for rock singers who are pursuing a unique, individual sound).
Despite how catchy the tune is and how cute the words are, I won't promise this free vocal music will be your students' FAVORITE song. But they will learn a lot. Sometimes, I just don't offer them a choice. "You're going to sing this song," I say, and that's the end of the discussion!
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