How Do You Get Piano Students To Sing or Even Hum?


When it comes to music I am a firm believer that if you can sing it, you can play it. As a singer, I am completely baffled by the fact that students attempt to learn how to play the piano without being able to sing or even hum the tune they wish to play. Equally disturbing to me is the number of students who will sing the tune, but consistently do it without regard to the correct pitch. I’ve seen this over and over again in piano lessons. When I ask a student to sing the melody of the song they are learning, they look at me with a blank stare as if to say, “You can’t be serious”. Then when they realize that I am serious, they simply ignore the request as they continue to struggle through the tune. Try as I might to convince students that I am not asking for a polished professional, melodious sound they still cringe at the thought of hearing their own voice. I’m wondering what other teachers do about this. So, the floor is now open for suggestions!


9 thoughts on “How Do You Get Piano Students To Sing or Even Hum?

  1. 88pianokeys says:

    Thank you for this great reminder about the importance of singing. I decided I needed to promote this more, especially when I want students to work on voicing the melody above the harmony. So, each student gets their own kazoo and we “kazoo” the melody together. Of course we start giggling at first, but this really works because students can “hide” their voice with the funny kazoo sound.


  2. dennis says:

    Interesting…I teach general music at k-5 school and save for a few all of the 150 kids sing and not only sing, they meet my requests to pitch match and experiment with finding their vocal range in front of the whole class…but yes in private lessons…getting a lot of kids to even count out loud or sing is much more difficult…this is something I want to stress more in my own studio….i suggest making the singing silly at first..or whatever make the child feel totally comfortable singing in front of teacher — that is key.


  3. timtopham says:

    I teach at a boys’ secondary school and it’s particuarly hard for my students – especially when their voices are all over the shop. Some of my students are singers and in the choir and are naturally attuned to singing melodies, but for the rest, it’s a really hard thing to do. Although I believe in it, I must admit that I don’t ask students to do it that often…. you’ve given me a good kick in the bum to do something about it!!


  4. foxxpianostudio says:

    I love the kazoo idea! I’ll have to remember that. One thing I notice is when students are really young they have no problem singing, it’s when they get older that they start to be more self conscience about it. I always do a Getting to Know you sheet students fill out every year and one of the questions on there is do you like to sing. Very few put down yes. I always find that interesting.


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