Memorization - My Singer Can't Learn the Melody

by Beatrice
(Peachtree City, GA)

Hi Dana,

I have an 8 year old voice student who has problems catching onto melodies. Usually, the remedy for that is to have someone musical at home help with plunking out notes, or to simply go over melody over and over in lessons. My issue is... lessons are only 30 minutes long once a week, and no one in her family knows how to play/read music. How do I get her to latch onto a melody? Especially with the short amount of time I spend with her? We've been singing "For the Beauty of the Earth" for about a month and every week she comes in telling me she can't remember how it goes. I feel stuck and unsure how to proceed. Today I calmly told her we'd move onto another piece, though I don't know if that's a solution either.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!


Hi Beatrice,

I have been there and I totally understand! This is what can happen when students don't have a naturally good "ear" nor do they read notes! The ONLY thing I have found to help these students is to have them record the music onto their phone or iPad during the lesson, or go to YouTube and listen to a singer. Lots of times they will forget to do that - you really need to get the parents involved in that case, because lessons are going nowhere and your time is being wasted.

I agree that it's time to try another song, though... Having a number of songs to sing is a good policy, especially easy rounds like Heigh Ho and Ah Poor Bird and Haida (all on my website in the Rounds section). It's fun to change things up, and then keep coming back each week to the "problem song" for just a few minutes...

Sometimes I think not learning a song is the student's way of letting you know that she really doesn't LIKE it very much. : ( In that case, I sometimes grit my teeth and let it go for a while. If I think it's a song she/he should know, we'll get back to it. Singing is so much fun, that most students will not object to letting me have my way with a good bit, or even all, of the music selection! The longer students are with me, the more they will make repertoire suggestions of their own.

Good luck - you are not alone!

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