Lesson 2: Exploring our Voices

Aim: What happens in our bodies when we breathe, hum, and sing?
Summary: Students explore their singing and talking voices. The exercises learned may be done as a
warm-up. It may take some time for students to know and feel that their singing and talking voices are
very different from each other.
Materials: Musical Explorers CD or online audio
Time Required: 50 minutes (five 10-minute activities)
Standards: GA: MK-2GM.1, MK-2GM.4, MK-2GM.6, MK-2GM.7, MK-2GM.8, MK-2GM.9, MK-2GM.10
SC: MGK-2.1, MGK-2.2, MGK-2.4, MGK-2.5, MGK-2.6
Vocabulary: humming, vibrations

What Happens When We Breathe?

  • Have students find a partner to explore what happens when taking a breath. Have one student take a few slow, deep breaths into their bellies. Encourage students not to lift their shoulders as they take deep breaths. Have the other student watch what happens.
    • What is happening inside your bodies as you breathe?
    • Is anything moving? What is moving?
    • Can you describe what you feel? What happens when you raise both hands in the air, take a deep breath, and then lower your hands while you exhale? Does that feel different? How so?
    • What happens when you lean over, touch your toes, and take a deep breath? How does that feel different?



What Happens When We Hum?

  • Have students perform a few long sounds by singing or humming, which is singing without opening one’s lips. While they hum or sing, tell them to touch their noses, cheeks, throats, necks, backs, and chests.
    • What do you feel?
    • Does anything change when you hum or sing instead of speak?
    • What do you think is happening? Why?
  • Explain that all sounds are caused by vibrations, or movements, that go through the air. Without vibrations, music and sounds would not exist. By touching our throats when we hum, speak, or sing, we can actually feel the wiggly vibrations created by our vocal cords.
  • Have students alternate between blowing air (not making sound) and humming, while touching their throats, so that they can feel the difference between vocal cords vibrating and at rest.
  • Have students use SG4 to document their experiences and sensations by circling the parts of the Bus Driver that correspond to the parts of their bodies they feel vibrating.



Learn the “Warm-Up Rhyme”

  • Teach the “Warm-Up Rhyme” (cdicon_22px Track 3) to your students.

    Practice this often as a warm-up before beginning to sing.


Visit the 2015-16 curriculum for videos of these and other warm-ups led by Melody!
Use any of these warm-up activities in Lesson 2 to begin each Musical Explorers lesson!
↓ Download illustrated warm-up guide


Vocal Exercises

  • Now that students have felt their own vocal cord vibrations, guide them in discovering what else their voices can do.
    • There are four types of voices: talking, singing, whispering, and calling.
  • Have students explore their voices.
    • How would you use your voice in the classroom? In music class? In the library? Outside on the playground?
  • By doing the following exercises often, students will become comfortable with using their singing voices, both high and low. Feel free to mix and match the following warm-ups, or to create your own to add variety.
  • Listen to “Sirens” (cdicon_22px Track 4).

    Have students pretend they are police cars on a chase with their sirens on. To do this, start by singing “ooo” on a low pitch and slide up to a high pitch, and then slide back down to a low pitch.

    • How can we use our arms to show the different shapes our voices are making? Try out students’ ideas of how sirens can sound and look.
  • Listen to “Yawning Kittens” (cdicon_22px Track 5).

    Have students pretend they are sleepy kittens by stretching, yawning, and sighing.

    • Model the vocal contour of the yawn and sigh (going from a high to a low pitch).
    • Model a swooping contour with your hands and arms. 
    • Have students mimic you so that they can begin to feel and understand the difference between high and low sounds by using their bodies and voices.
  • Listen to “Floating Balloon” (cdicon_22px Track 6).

    Have students imagine they are a balloon floating in the wind.

    • Model the balloon’s path by moving your arm.
    • Make your voice match the contour of the balloon’s path (voice starts low and finishes high). Repeat this several times.
    • Have students imitate your arm and vocal movements.
    • Experiment with the size and contour of the balloon’s arc, matching the movement with your voice.


Sing the “Musical Explorers Song”

  • Warm up students’ voices by singing the “Musical Explorers Song” (cdicon_22px Track 1), SG2.
  • Begin each class by listening to or performing this song.


Musical Word Wall

Add the words humming and vibrations to the Musical Word Wall.


PDF Downloads

SG2 ↓ Download File

SG4 ↓ Download File


Musical Explorers Audio Tracks