Whisper, Talk, Sing: How the Voice Works


[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Voice. Not the TV show – the aural presence of each of us. It’s an amazing instrument, able to produce an incredible range of vocalizations. Think about the variety: a baby’s cooing and crying; opera singing and hip hop rapping; the chants of a cheerleading squad and Buddhist monks.

But how does it work? How does the voice make all these different sounds? Let’s explore…[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

The Basic Anatomy

Just like any instrument you may be familiar with, like a violin or a , your voice is has two major parts: a source of vibration and a resonator. With a violin, the vibration comes from the bow causing the string to move in regular cycles. It, in turn, make the air around it vibrate. Your brain perceives these cycling sounds as one tone, a pitch. The body of the violin serves as the resonator and amplifies that sound.

So…with the voice, the source of vibration is the vocal folds (old school folks call them vocal chords, but all the cool kids say folds now) and the basic resonators – we have several – include the throat, the nose, and the mouth.

When you breath in and then exhale air, the movement of the air between the vocal folds, coupled with muscular action, draw the folds together. Nerve bundles allow messages from the brain to reach the vocal folds and associated muscles, which give the structure permission to start vibrating.

Here is a video of the vocal folds vibrating, narrated by Rebecca Risser, a Certified Speech Language Pathologist, located in the Indianapolis area.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJedwz_r2Pc”][vc_column_text]

The Vocal Palette

Okay…anatomy. Got it. But how does the voice produce all those sounds? Well, its a combination of things.

1. Changing Pitch

To make high sounds, the muscles in the larynx tighten or stretch the folds. Think about a rubber band – if you stretch it and pluck it, you get a high pitch. If you make it looser, you get a lower pitch. The folds are just about exactly the same.

2. Changing Timbre

Timbre refers to the color of the sounds we produce – dark and heavy, bright and light. I often use the examples of Patrick Star and Spongebob Squarepants. Patrick is a dark vocal color and Spongebob is very nasal and bright. If you have kids, you get this reference. If not, go watch and episode. You can also think of this as placing the sound at the back of the throat (dark) or very high in the nose or forward toward the teeth (bright). Physiology plays a part here as well, which is why Prince sounds different than Barry White.

How we use the folds also impacts sound. A whisper doesn’t involve vibrating folds, but they can be pushed together with more tension when whispering, which is why voice professionals advise against whispering when dealing with vocal health issues.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

3. The Articulators

The lips, the teeth and the tip of the tongue. Say that 10 times, fast! It’s actually an old exercise to warm up the voice, and more specifically, the articulators. The best part? It’s actually a partial list of active articulators. These are the true work horses of sound modification. Most of time, these active articulators get paired with a passive articulator. Let’s try some sounds out…

Say the initial sound of the letter “T”. Say it a few times – like you are mimicking a closed high hat cymbal. I’ll wait. Don’t worry…no one is watching.

What happened inside your mouth? Yep! The tongue (active articulator) hit the back of your teeth, right near the gum line (passive articulator).

Now…do this again while placing your hand on your neck, right where your voice box (larynx) is located. Do you feel vibration? You shouldn’t. The letter “T” is an unvoiced consonant – meaning you don’t use your folds.

Okay…now try the initial sound of the letter “D” – with your hand in the same place. You felt vibrations that time, didn’t you? And if you think about it, your tongue did the same thing – hit the back of your teeth. These two sounds are the same with the simple exception that one uses the vocal folds and one does not.

By combining the articulators in different ways, we are capable of an almost limitless collection of sounds. Check out Tom Thum, a world class beat boxer. The sounds he produces are possible because he combines, with amazing vocal dexterity, all of the things we have talked about here: changing color, changing resonance, and superhuman use of his articulators.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gHgXmMXvAg”][vc_column_text]Singing is basically extended speech. The extension happens during vowel expression. Basically, during regular speech, the vowel to consonant ratio is about 5:1 – you spend about 5 times more of your speaking life on vowels than consonants. When you sing, the difference can be as wide is 200:1. Think about it – you can’t hold out the consonant sound “D” for more than the instance it takes for your tongue to hit your teeth. But you CAN hold out the vowel sound “ah”.

All of these variables allow us to whisper, talk, yell, sing, rap, beat box, and imitate others. Changing these aspects of vocal production is partially how impersonators bring other peoples’s voices to life.

How do you use your voice? Do you sing? Rap? Yodel? Do you make funny sounds to entertain your little one? We want to know! Share in the comments below…[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][class_finder_form css=”.vc_custom_1461817619144{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Vestibular System: Finding the Right Balance

Destin HarborFor parents with young children, Life Balance is a mythical beast! A hammock gently swaying in a warm ocean breeze as you watch ships leave the harbor or the quiet creaking of a porch swing in the dappled afternoon sunlight can bring thoughts of a little Life Balance in an increasingly complex world. For parents of children under 2, however, the nursery glider moving back and forth at 10:16pm, 2:01am, and 5:34am might be the closest you can get to that beach or front porch. It can work in a pinch though!

All that nursery rocking reinforces balance of a different kind in young children. The rocking, swaying, and movement stimulate children’s vestibular system, the part of the brain that controls balance. In Kindermusik class, we rock to lullabies, bounce on knees, and even make hammocks out of blankets to help young children begin to develop their sense of balance and to reinforce balance and stability in young walkers.

Try this with the swaying activity with the children in your life for a little balance!




This activity supports more than vestibular development. Children also develop vocabulary, language skills, and make emotional connections with a loving caregiver!

Looking for more ideas on how to support the development of your child? Visit a Kindermusik class and get connected with an early childhood expert!

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell a freelance writer in the Atlanta area.

Dancing Today Leads to Bike Riding Tomorrow

Riding a bikeIt’s coming, one day soon (if it hasn’t already). Your child will want to learn how to ride a bike—the big kid kind. There will be spills and thrills for both of you as your helmeted child learns how to balance and maintain the right rhythm and tempo for pedaling and braking. Shouts of “Don’t let go!” “I need a push!” and “Arggg!” will be commonplace until that moment when it all comes together and your child successfully rides down the street.

You might not realize it but Kindermusik helps prepare you and your child for this moment (and not just by supplying you with calming music to hum during the process!). When we dance the waltz and the jig or clap and tap a three-beat pattern while listening to a waltz, your child not only builds important musicianship skills but also develops and refines motor coordination skills. This awareness of meter and individual beats in two-beat and three-beat musical patterns builds a sense of rhythm that will help your child play an instrument, dribble a ball, swim with consistent strokes, and yes, even pedal a bike.

Kindermusik Tip: Dance with your child to all kinds of music. Go ahead: Waltz together. Do the Hand Jive. Try the Electric Slide. There is no right or wrong way to dance together. Plus, it’s good for you both!

Take a look at how this sweet Kindermusik child dances with her doll:

[youtube] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fhs8xqkn6Q  [/youtube]

Download this free mini-playlist of some of our favorite Kindermusik dance songs.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell a freelance writer in the Atlanta area.

Get the wiggles out and keep the learning in

thinking and learning are anchored by movementA recent article in the Washington Post highlighted a growing concern for parents and educators:  more and more kids are having trouble sitting still in school. The root of the problem is that kids are being expected to sit still for longer periods of time. Recesses are shorter, and often kids aren’t running, jumping, and playing outside even once they get home.
Our bodies are wired to move. In fact, it is through movement that the brain becomes activated for learning. This is often why kids get wiggly and fidgety – their bodies are trying to wake up their brains! It is also through movement that kids develop core strength, increase their coordination and balance, stimulate their vestibular systems, and improve gross motor skills – among other things.
In this Kindermusik video, expressive movement is helping these young children gain a greater understanding of a poem about a train as they visualize and act out the words through movement. Notice how the children hear the words (aural), see the words represented in the movement (visual), and act them out (kinesthetic). Even though the children are doing the movements while seated, they are working out some of their wiggles and sealing in the learning – all at the same time!
Learn more about how children benefit from the powerful combination of music and movement at www.Kindermusik.com.

Music Video Brings in the Clowns to Develop Kids' Gross Motor Skills

I am a clown video
When you send in the clowns, you can also introduce a whole lot of fun practicing all kinds of ways to move, jump, listen, focus, and even stop.  At first glance, it might seem like an activity such as “I Am a Clown” is just about moving and dancing.  But watch a little more closely, and you’ll see that there are a whole lot more benefits than just developing gross motor skills.
Linking language and movement – With each new verse, there’s a new movement… and a new movement word for labeling that movement.  This is how children expand their vocabulary and their repertoire of moves.
Inhibitory control – This is that all-important skill of learning self-control, both externally and internally.  Having to stop their movements helps children learn how to be better in control of not just their bodies, but also their emotions and their interactions with others.
Active listening – “I Am a Clown” is a fun way for children to practice listening and responding to those aural cues.  Active listening is a learned skill, and one that will serve a child well even into adulthood.
Following directions – Bringing together several different ways of moving into the different verses of the same song helps children with the all-important excecutive function skill of following directions.
Social-emotional development – There’s nothing much more powerful than bonding together through music and movement activities, whether that’s parent-child together time or whether it’s enjoying the company and inspiration of friends in a music activity.
Kindermusik is where music and learning playWith all of these great benefits from a simple music and movement activity, enjoy a little “clowning around” with your own child (or with your whole class if you’re a teacher!) for a sneak peek into how the Kindermusik curriculum works through music and movement.

Babies: Dancing their way to friendship

Dancing BabiesBefore social media, making friends and maintaining relationships involved more than clicking yes to a “Friend Request” or commenting on a status update. (Well, technically it still does.) To be a good friend, regardless of age, we need to share, use our “kind and polite words,” take turns, show empathy, listen, practice conflict resolution—essentially put into practice all those skills that make a good friend.

Dancing with babies form social bonds

Learning how to be a good friend takes practice and guidance. The first seven years of a child’s life present unique and lasting moments for laying the groundwork for healthy social development. Each week in our music classes, we provide many opportunities for children as young as newborns to practice cooperation, turn taking, active listening, paying attention, and other key social development skills that help children grow to be a socially confident and adept people.
Of course, we also dance, bounce to a steady beat, and move around in response to music a lot. Now new research indicates that all of that moving around together with young children positively affects their social behavior.
“Moving in sync with others is an important part of musical activities,” explains Laura Cirelli,  lead author of an upcoming article in the journal Developmental Science. “These effects show that movement is a fundamental part of music that affects social behavior from a very young age.”
In the study, the team worked with 68 babies to determine if bouncing to music with another person makes a baby more likely to help the other person following the musical activity. Dancing in pairs, one adult held a baby facing outward toward another adult. Both adults and the baby gently bounced to the music. Some of the babies bounced at the same tempo as the adult across from them while others bounced at a different tempo. Afterwards, the babies who bounced to music at the same tempo as both adults were more likely to pick up an object “accidently” dropped by the other adult when compared to the babies moving at a different tempo.
The research implies that when we sing, clap, bounce or dance to a steady beat to music with babies, these shared experiences of synchronous movement help form social bonds between us and our babies. Or, to put it simple: Babies can literally dance their way to friendship!

Peas & Carrots Kindermusik@HomeFind a local Kindermusik educator and experience for yourself how our music classes for babies, toddlers, preschools, big kids, and families teaches vital life skills, including learning how to be a friend. 

In the meantime, enjoy this free music and movement activity  from Kindermusik@Home. It will get you and your little one dancing in various ways together—supporting social skills and parent-child bonding.
Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer living in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Music and Movement Benefits: The Power of the Vestibular System

The vestibular system controls the sense of movement and balance.  From birth to about 15 months, the vestibular system is very active as the child gains a sense of gravity and knowledge of the physical environment through movement.  Rocking, swaying, and movement which rotates the head stimulates the vestibular system, stimulating the brain for new learning.”  – Smart Moves, by Carla Hannaford.

Activating learning through movement

The vestibular system is the “vestibule” or “entryway” for learning into the brain.  By stimulating the vestibular system, we are helping your child’s brain get ready to learn.  By intentionally stimulating the vestibular system during your baby’s early years, your child becomes even more aware of the physical environment through movement.  Research shows that vestibular stimulation is not only tied to “alertness” but also to a child’s language development.

A parent’s insights can give a child an academic advantage

Understanding how children learn in the early years and what activates that learning is vital to understanding how children will learn and progress through school later on, according to developmental psychologist Dr. Katherine Towney.  This is precisely the reason that Kindermusik educators are so fond of sharing the benefits and the reasons for what we do in class.  We believe that parents are children’s first and best teacher, and the more you know and understand about your child, the better learner you can help him/her become.

Why we move, rock, dance, and sway in a Kindermusik class

Here’s a brief of overview of just how we activate the vestibular system – and a child’s learning – in our Kindermusik classes:
Babies:  Using and labeling movements like twisting, swaying, turning, and rocking.
Toddlers:  Helping the children learn to move confidently and creatively on their own – with mom, dad, grandma, or nanny near by, of course.
Preschoolers:  Introducing a whole new vocabulary of movement and joyfully exploring all of those new words and ways to learn.
Big Kids:  Keeping the movement in our feet and whole bodies inspires the children as they are also learning to read, write, and compose music.

The Surprising Movement-Literacy Connection

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At Kindermusik, we’ve said it for years…

Movement and learning go hand in hand.

music and movementThat’s why we found it fascinating that a recent study done in Australian schools identified a direct correlation between young children who engaged in a movement program as they were also being taught to read.  The findings were astounding.  The combination of consistent movement and exercise while being taught to read resulted in the students becoming better learners.  Reading, writing, and fine motor skills improved, and the students were much more focused.  In fact the program was such a huge success that it was implemented in all K5 and 1st grades at Applecross Primary School.
If you want your child to be a better reader, you don’t have to be one of the lucky students who attends Applecross Primary School in Melville, Australia.  You can simply find your local Kindermusik educator and enroll in a Kindermusik class!

“Thinking and learning are anchored by movement.”*

Here are a few of the ways we move in Kindermusik that help our Kindermusik kids be ready – ready for school, ready to read, ready for music lessons, and ready to succeed in life!

  • Expressive movement:  Whether it’s dancing in Daddy’s arms as a baby or learning the steps of a minuet as a big kid, dancing is an important part of self-expression and developing creativity.
  • Synchronized movement:  Bouncing, clapping, stomping, or playing an instrument to a steady beat – first with and then later without Mom’s help.
  • Fingerplays, songs, and chants:  Moving little fingers, hands, and arms is a big part of how we learn through labeling and how fine motor skills – essential for holding a pencil, cutting with scissors, and playing the first notes on a piano – begin to develop.
  • Group dances and circle songs: Simple choreography or moving together as a group provides vital social interactions that also facilitate a sense of community and belonging.
  • Spatial exploration: Exploring the “where” and “how” of movement as it relates to one’s sense of self and relationship to personal and general space is a how the all-important skill of spatial awareness is developed.
* Dr. Carla Hannaford, Smart Moves: Why Learning Is Not All in Your Head


Take it outside—the benefits of music that is!

Ah, summertime. Warmer temperatures, playing in sprinklers, catching fireflies, and walking barefoot in the grass—summer is the perfect season to “take it outside.” In the world of childcare curriculum development, it can also mean the season of the slide. No, not the slide found at the local playground or park, but the summer slide, which refers to what can happen to the early literacy and language, early math or other cognitive development skills of children who do not participate in learning activities over the summer.
KindermusikPresents_ABCMusicAndMe_AGlobalEarlyChildhoodCurriculum[1]Thankfully, the benefits of music engage children in learning throughout the year. Summertime can be the perfect season to grab a CD player and take the educational activities outside as part of a childcare summer curriculum. Our early childhood curriculum, ABC Music & Me, includes 3-package units to make it easy to engage children in early literacy and language development as part of a summer camp or as part of summer programming. Plus, Kindermusik includes @Home activities to connect what happens at school with the every day routines and rituals of a family’s life.

3 summer programming options to take the benefits of music outside

1. Wiggle & Grow celebrates the unique joys of young toddlers. Children will love the songs, stories, and games and early childhood educators will love helping  them practice a  wide variety of skills such as gross and fine motor, turn-taking, social skills, and active listening.
The summer-friendly 3-unit package includes themes: Up in the Sky, Marvelous Me, Time for Lunch
Sneak-peek at one of the activities from Kindermusik@Home that supports parent involvement in early childhood education:
Kindermusik@Home Sky Counting From “Up in the Sky”: Sky Counting
Learning number words (e.g., one, two, three, four) is the first number sense skill. Research shows that number sense is a critical early predictor of future mathematics success. A sky full of clouds, airplanes, blimps, and more… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…families will love counting them all.
 2. Laugh & Learn encourages preschoolers’ natural love of music, storytelling, and imaginative play with age-appropriate activities that introduce early music concepts and foster independence, social and emotional skills, language growth and self-control.
The 3-unit summer-friendly package includes themes: Home Sweet Home, Let’s Play, On the Go
Sneak-peek at one of the activities from Kindermusik@Home that supports parent involvement in early childhood education:
Home on the Hive Kindermusik@HomeFrom “Home Sweet Home” Home on the Hive
Measurement is one of the core areas of early math. In the activity, families will enjoy comparing relative size and position of the bees in the hive.
3. Move & Groove engages students in music and movement activities such as songs, rhymes, and dances that also promote creativity, social-emotional skills, physical coordination, confidence and more. Plus, language rich content boosts vocabulary while strengthening cognitive and literacy skills to help increase school readiness!
The 3-unit summer-friendly package includes: Sounds Abound, Jazz Kitchen, and Dance with Me
Sneak-peek at one of the activities from Kindermusik@Home that supports parent involvement in early childhood education:
From Sounds Abound: Can You Guess What Song? 
Kindermusik@Home Guess What SongIn this game, children are asked to identify a familiar song by listening to the sounds presented through a voice humming. Sounds simple—but to be successful, children must process the sounds, connect them to the music and lyrics of songs they know, and then recall the name of the song. Processing skills are the primary skills being exercised here. Processing, or the ability to perceive information, is an important cognitive skill that starts developing rapidly during the preschool and early school years.

Want to learn more about taking the benefits of music outside at your preschool or childcare center as part of your summer programming? Email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.


5 Ways to Celebrate Spring with Music and Movement

At Kindermusik, we’re all about great ideas and helpful tips that make parenting just a little bit easier and a whole lot more musical.  And now that Spring is just around the corner, we thought we’d share some music and movement ideas for celebrating spring… and creating some very happy memories!

5 Ways to Celebrate Spring with Music and Movement

Cute child in puddle1. Go for a listening walk.
There are all kinds of sounds to be discovered outside, especially in the Spring time.  Listen for, imitate, and then talk about the sounds that are all around.
2.  Take advantage of springtime showers.
Those brief, light spring showers do more than bring May flowers… they also leave perfectly sized puddles that are great for jumping, stomping, splashing, and giggling!
3.  Blow bubbles on the porch.
There’s nothing more delightful than bubbles.  But bubbles aren’t just for fun, they also help little eyes learn to track and follow moving objects and little eyes and hands to improve eye-hand coordination.
4.  Do a happy dance in the house.
Turn on your favorite music and float like a cloud, sway like a tree, fly like a bird, or wiggle like a worm.  (This would be a great follow up to your Listening Walk, and it’s a fun thing for the whole family to enjoy!)
5.  Work on some spring cleaning together.
We think music makes everything better, and that includes spring cleaning.  Give your child a soft cloth or small duster and let them help.  Sing and dance the chores away!

And for more fun ways to celebrate Spring and all things new…