Finding the Vowels

Materials Needed:



Educational Objective:

Students will demonstrate their understanding of using placement and vowels in singing by completing a short quiz.



Before students enter the class, draw an outline on the board of the vocal cavity and have blanks with marks drawn to each location in the body that affects singing, including the Diaphragm, Lungs, the Larynx, Pharynx, Hard Palate, Soft Palate, Oral Cavity, & Nasal cavity, but don’t label these words simply draw an arrow to where they are on the diagram and label them 1-8. Tell the students we are going to take a pop quiz and have them fill out the answers on a separate sheet of paper. When they have completed it pull everyone back in and see if anyone can fill in the blanks on the board. Don’t actually collect the quizzes, allow the students to keep them and take notes on them.
Key: 1. Nasal Cavity, 2. Larynx, 3. Pharynx, 4. Lungs, 5. Diaphragm 6. Soft Palate, 7. Hard Palate, 8. Oral Cavity


Step 1: Discussion/Transition:

Discuss with students the various parts of the vocal system explaining what the Diaphragm, Lungs, the Larynx (Voice Box), Pharynx (Uses muscle to control the sound in the wind pipe), Hard Palate (separates your nasal cavity from the oral cavity), Soft Palate (when lifted allows for clean sound to form), Oral Cavity, & Nasal cavity all do. Also ask students if they remember the three topics we have already covered in regards to healthy singing (these include Posture, Awareness and Respiration) and explain that we are going to work on Resonation and Phonation today in class.


Step 2: Instruction/Practice:

Then have students gather around the piano and lead them in a few vocal warm ups including Mommy Made Me Mash My M&M’s and do a few sirens. Then instruct them we are going to do Mommy Made Me Mash My M&M’s a few different ways, first as a football player, then on an A vowel and then like an opera singer. After each warm up have a discussion about the different placements and how they feel the sound coming from their mouth.


Step 3: Instruction:

Explain that singing like a football player practices using mix, singing on an A vowel is more of a belt sound and the opera singer is classical. Ask them if they could feel a difference in the vowels they used singing as a football player or using the A vowel as opposed to singing classically. The difference is that classical is vertical vowels and musical theater is horizontal, but not sending it to your nose so it sounds nasally. Explain that this is known as Resonance.


Step 4: Instruction/Practice/Assessment:

Have the students participate in a call and respond exercise where the students try to mimic the open A sounds of the following statements…
“Hey Guys, Phone Call, Dang, Cat, Fire” Ask students to describe how each of these feels, ask if there is any force or pain and if so work with students to find an open space. Explain that with the A and the Uh sounds vowels in singing include Ah, Eh, Ee, Oh, Oo. Ah as in Father, Eh as in Met, Ee as in meet, Oh as in close, and Oo as in blue. Instruct students to think about do re me from Sound of music and tell me what are the different vowels in each of parts of the song. Ask them sing it with you focusing on what the placement is for each vowel in their mouths.


Step 5: Practice-

Have students get out their songs and sing through them with their partners focusing on finding the vowels in each word and how they can best form those vowels to get the clearest sound. Instruct to go through the song slowly and hold out each note in order to find the vowels that will sound the best to emphasize.


Step 6: Assessment-

Before class is over have students complete the same quiz we took at the beginning of class and explain that they are allowed to use their notes, just not their neighbor.