An Investigation of the Effects of Vocal Register and Melodic Direction on the Singing Accuracy of

September 22, 2009 / By: Deborah S. Michaels

The intent of this study was to determine the effects of vocal register and melodic direction on the singing accuracy of kindergarten students.  The sub-problems in the study focused on the success of kindergarten singers when they sang ascending and descending melodies both above and below the natural break in the voice, identified for the purposes of this study as F#1.

Two folk songs with identical lengths (four, four-beat motives) and pitch sets (do, re, mi, sol) were selected as test songs, one with primarily ascending motives, the other with primarily descending motives.   Data were collected in two separate recording sessions with kindergarten students at Hintgen Elementary School in La Crosse, Wisconsin.    The recording sessions followed brief treatment periods in which subjects learned to sing the test songs.  In each, the student was asked to listen to a recording of a female singing the test song in one key (either Bb or G1), then to repeat what he had heard.  The same song was then presented in the second key for the student to replicate.  

The resulting singing samples were scored on a four-point scale, by three experienced elementary music specialists. 

Results of this study do not support the preferred use of either the high or low register in testing vocal accuracy of young children, though asking them to sing with an initial pitch well in the upper register to facilitate descending melodies was shown to significantly reduce their accuracy.  Given the results of this study, teachers of kindergarten students should not limit them to singing either above or below the break, nor should they only test in one of these registers to the exclusion of the other.  Rather, they should offer their students opportunities to sing with an extended range and do singing assessments of limited ranges in both registers in order to get a more full understanding of the abilities of each of their students and to plan song material in order to continually expand their students’ ranges.