Unlocking the Power of Hymnody: Why Studying Hymns Is Crucial for Modern Kids

Unlocking the Power of Hymnody: Why Studying Hymns Is Crucial for Modern Kids
In a digital age dominated by fleeting trends, the enduring significance and presence of hymns often gets overlooked. However, delving into their study can unveil a treasure trove of benefits for modern kids. I personally have my homeschool choirs sing a hymn (either a modern arrangement, a basic version, or a cappella) each semester because I understand the value and richness of doing so. So let's explore why hymn study is not just relevant but essential in today's society, especially for our kids.

Cultural and Historical Insight
Hymns are not mere melodies; they're windows into the past, offering insights into the cultural and religious landscapes of their time. From the soul-stirring "Amazing Grace" to the steadfast "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," each hymn encapsulates a story of faith, resilience, and human experience. By studying hymns and the context in which they were written, children gain a deeper appreciation for history and the values that have shaped societies through the ages.

Musical Enrichment
In a world saturated with synthesized sounds, hymns provide refreshment of musical richness and simplicity. Their intricate harmonies, diverse vocal ranges, and timeless melodies offer invaluable lessons in music theory as well as challenges to sing (depending on the singer and the specific hymn). Studying hymns challenges young musicians, enhancing their skills as performers and composers while expanding the options their musical ear understands and broadening their musical horizons.

Spiritual and Emotional Nourishment
Hymns possess a unique ability to touch hearts and uplift spirits. Through expressions of joy, sorrow, gratitude, or hope, hymns offer a conduit for exploring complex emotions and grappling with life's uncertainties. In an era marked by rapid change and technological distractions, studying hymns provides a grounding force, nurturing children's spiritual and emotional well-being when they are given the opportunity to understand and take in the musical and textual richness.

Language and Literacy Enhancement
The lyrical beauty of hymns makes them a potent tool for language and literacy development. Analyzing their poetic structure, vocabulary, and symbolism strengthens reading comprehension, expands vocabulary, and hones critical thinking skills. Memorizing hymn verses enhances memory retention and cognitive function, offering a holistic approach to language learning.

Community and Tradition
Hymn-singing has long been a communal practice, fostering a sense of unity and belonging among participants. By engaging with hymns, children connect with a tradition that spans generations and transcends cultural boundaries. Whether in church, school, home or community settings, hymn study strengthens bonds with others and instills a sense of shared heritage and connection together.

Studying of hymns offers a wealth of benefits for modern kids, from cultural enrichment and musical education to spiritual growth and community engagement. By embracing these timeless treasures, children can enrich their lives and connect with the enduring wisdom of the past. Let's ensure that hymn study remains a vital part of our educational and cultural landscape, empowering future generations to sing their praises with passion and purpose! Check out the "A Hymn a Month" freebie that covers a whole month's worth of different ways your family can study one hymn. Further resources for specific hymn studies will be available soon in the Classical Collective Membership -- sign up to be notified when it goes live!

I Can't Sing Myth Debunked: 3 Reasons You May Struggle with Singing and their Solutions

I Can't Sing Myth Debunked: 3 Reasons You May Struggle with Singing and their Solutions
As a voice teacher, I frequently encounter students or the general public who believe they can't sing for various reasons. It's a common misconception that some people are simply born with the ability to sing while others are not. In reality, singing is a skill that can be learned and developed with the right guidance and practice. Let's explore three common reasons people maybe "can't sing" and some practical solutions to help overcome them!

  1. The song is too low: One of the most frequent reasons I hear people struggle to sing a song is because the recording they are singing with (or they themselves) start singing the song too low. This leads to them not being able to sing the notes accurately because their voice cannot hit those low notes -- this is especially true for children whose voices have not changed yet. I see this allll the time in church kids choirs where the director has picked music that is for adults without taking into account the melody's range for the children's singing needs.
    Solution: If you find yourself struggling with a song that feels too low, consider transposing it to a higher key that better suits your voice (aka start singing higher! I gave an audio example here). Experiment with different keys until you find one that allows you to sing comfortably without strain. Additionally you can work with a voice teacher (like me!) to increase your range and work on other techniques that will help you sing lower notes if that's a desired skill.

  2. You aren't using enough air/breath: Breath support is the foundation of good singing technique, yet many beginners underestimate its importance. Insufficient breath support can lead to weak, airy vocals, pitch instability, and an inability to sustain notes effectively. Without proper breath control, even the most talented singers can struggle to reach their full potential.
    Solution: Focus on developing strong breath support by practicing diaphragmatic breathing exercises regularly. Imagine filling your lower lungs with air as you inhale deeply like through a straw, allowing your lungs to descend and expand. Practice exhaling slowly and steadily (like on an "s" sound), maintaining control over your airflow throughout each phrase. Incorporate breath support exercises into your daily vocal warm-up routine to strengthen your diaphragm and improve your vocal stamina.

  3. You need to use your ears just as much as your voice: Singing isn't just about producing sound; it's also about listening and adjusting in real-time to stay on pitch and maintain vocal consistency, especially if you're singing with a recording or track or other singers. Many aspiring singers neglect the importance of active listening and rely solely on muscle memory or visual cues, leading to inaccuracies and inconsistencies in their performances.
    Solution: Train your ear by practicing pitch-matching exercises and listening to a variety of music genres attentively. Pay close attention to pitch, tone, and phrasing, and strive to replicate what you hear accurately. Sing along with recordings of professional singers, focusing on matching their pitch and expression. Over time, your ear will become more attuned to nuances in pitch and tone, allowing you to sing with greater accuracy and confidence.
The belief that "I can't sing" is often rooted in misconceptions and technical challenges that can be addressed with the right approach and guidance (and a kind teacher!). By transposing songs to suit your voice, developing strong breath support, and training your ear through active listening, you can unlock your true potential as a singer and enjoy the transformative power of music. So, don't let self-doubt hold you back — embrace the journey of vocal exploration and discover the joy of expressing yourself through song! It starts with belief and skill will follow.

Find this helpful? Stay tuned for some more great training coming down the pipeline! Sign up for updates here.

The Invisible Battle: The Emotional Toll of TMJD on Singers

The Invisible Battle: The Emotional Toll of TMJD on Singers
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) is a prevalent yet often misunderstood condition that affects millions of people worldwide, including many singers and music teachers. While its physical symptoms are well-documented, the emotional toll it has on vocalists remains largely unseen. Let's delve into the hidden struggles faced by singers battling TMJD, shedding light on an often-overlooked aspect of the music industry.

Understanding TMJD:
TMJD is a condition that affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, causing symptoms such as jaw pain, stiffness, clicking or popping noises, headaches, and difficulty in opening or closing the mouth. For singers, whose livelihoods depend on the flexibility and precision of their vocal instrument, these symptoms can pose significant challenges. It can be a super scary place to be to not really understand what's physically happening!

The Emotional Impact:
Beyond the physical discomfort, TMJD can take a profound emotional toll on singers. The uncertainty of symptom flare-ups, the fear of compromised performances, the unknown of how long it will last, and the frustration of navigating a condition with no easy fix can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. I personally felt so alone in it often. I remember walking home from a choir concert on campus one night by myself because all of my friends went out for dessert afterwards but I was in too much pain to join them. I wrote more about these feelings in my chapter of The Truth About Finding Joy in the Darkness.

Navigating Treatment Options:
While treatment options for TMJD vary, singers often find themselves on a journey of trial and error as they seek relief. From physical therapy and dental appliances to medication and surgery, finding an effective treatment plan can be a daunting task. Dental professionals pawn it off on medical and vice versa. I experienced that over the course of 5 years before finding solutions (on my own) to provide relief.

Finding Support:
In the face of these challenges, many singers find solace in connecting with others who understand their journey. Online support groups, vocal coaches experienced in working with TMJD patients, and sharing experiences with fellow artists can provide much-needed support and encouragement. I'd be happy to be a sounding board or resource for you! I created TMJ Strong for this very reason.

The emotional toll of TMJD on singers may be invisible to the outside world, but its impact is undeniable. By raising awareness of this often-overlooked aspect of the music industry, we can foster greater empathy and understanding for those facing this invisible battle. To all the singers grappling with TMJD, know that you are not alone, and your strength in the face of adversity is commendable.

Do you struggle with TMJ pain? Or do you love someone who does? How does it take a toll on you emotionally?