Mozart's Magical Hat: More Head Voice Tricks

I recently blogged about Mozart the Marvelous Mouth Magician and his wonderful hat, the hat that helped him get into his head voice. The first graders love Mozart and were really excited that I told them that they would make their own hats.

I will admit that this was a spur-of-the-moment idea and not aesthetically planned out well. But we do what we can! I gave each child a 12x18 piece piece of construction paper to decorate. I then took them home and rolled them into a cone so the kids would have their own "Magical Mouth Hat".

I assess head voice during Echo Roll Call, which I have used for years. I learned it from the book One, Two, Three, Echo Me by Loretta Mitchell. The students sing a so-mi pattern to respond. When the students performed roll call on this day, I told them to aim for the point of the hat and see if their ears would tickle.

When the kids put on their hats, suddenly many sang out. Some of my chest voice kids sang at least 3-4 pitches higher. Two of my reluctant singers sang. And the nice thing is.....for those kids who improved, there was applause. From their classmates.

The students kept their hats on while singing their newfound solfa pitches of so and mi in Music Street. (based on an activity by Sister Lorna Zemke) as well as with the song "BurnyBee". (Source: Purposeful Pathways by Roger Sams and BethAnn Hepburn.)

The students were told they could leave their hats at school if they wanted them handy to help with head voice, or they could take them home. The majority, of course, chose to take their hats home, but a few selected to leave them at school. 

This was all last week. Flash forward to today. In one class, three boys looked for their hats to help them out with their head voices. The magic still happened! Unfortunately, one little shy girl was disappointed she had taken hers home. The previous week, this reluctant singer matched pitch for the first time I had ever had her, since the beginning of kindergarten. Today, her support prop wasn't there. (She is also a little girl who would rather sing to the puppets up close to me).

One of her friends had an idea. The friend formed an inverted V with her hands and hovered them over the little shy girl's head. The shy singer smiled and sang. Quietly, but she sang. Immediately, her class applauded her. Later, I saw her with her special education teacher and relayed to the teacher what had happened in music. The little girl beamed from ear to ear. The magic of music!

There are several other little tricks I have for head voice (which will be posted later), but the Magical Mouth Hat is one that just gives me good feels. With the hat, several of the students overcame their shyness and found the magic inside of them.

Update: More cute adorable Magic hat pictures.

Getting Kids to Sing in Head Voice, Part One: The Adventures of Mozart the Mouth Magician

In Missouri, one of our music objectives is teaching first graders about singing in head voice. As we know, this is important for vocal health, to save the throat and to encourage children to sing in their natural ranges. We use sirens, scarves, and other tricks.

I am always looking for new ways to utilize my ever-growing collection of puppets in new ways. This year, I had a brainstorm. Two years ago, I used a Merlin cap as part of the sixth grade program. I will admit, I'm lazy. My costumes are housed in our school basement in a corner of the STEM closet. Somehow, the Merlin hat didn't make it to the box, and I really didn't want to go downstairs to put it away. So, the hat ended up on my boy Folkmanis puppet we had named Wolfie (for Mozart, from the movie Amadeus).  This year, I looked at the hat, and Wolfie, in a whole new light. The hat remained, and I renamed Wolfie to the much more dignified name of Mozart the Marvelous Mouth Magician, complete with I.D. card (well, the picture has to be taken care of first. He has a temporary one). I decided that Mozart would make a great tool to teach first graders about head voice and proper singing. The video below shows Mozart's first introduction to the first grade:

My heart almost broke when one little voice in first grade (when I talked about how Mozart was afraid someone would make fun of him) said "We would NEVER do that." Lesson in head voice AND lesson in character education! These kids were too precious. And the Merlin hat? Terrific visual in head voice! Since the superstrain of lice hasn't disappeared, the kids can't share the real Merlin hat, but we will be making our own for their next music classes so they have their own magic hat for head voice. Hopefully I will be sharing those activities as well.

So, we're going to keep on the continuing adventures of Mozart the Marvelous Mouth Magician. Stay tuned!

***Disclaimer: I will be developing activities with Mozart for future workshops and possibly other ventures. If you should choose to share this idea, I would greatly appreciate receiving credit. Thanks!