Great American Singing Challenge History
Co-chairs Ann Kay and Lisa Lozito, Judy Hays, Deborah Lamb, Julie Schramke
Electronic Learning Products (ELP) donated Singing Coach software,
Kodály Chapter of Minnesota, MNOrff Chapter
The first time I used the Singing Coach program, I sang the folk song, “Clementine,” into a microphone. A horizontal line for my voice appeared, in real time, in comparison to lines for the pitches of the song. At the end of the song, a percentage score popped up for my pitch and rhythmic accuracy. Then, I listened to the recording of my voice while I watched the line for my voice to see where I had been too high or too low. Wow, this is fun! It’s like a game! I thought. I sang the song over and over, motivated to keep trying because my score improved each time.
That gave me an idea. In 2008, I called the company, Electronic Learning Products, and asked them to donate free copies so that we could launch a pilot project designed to get children singing in tune. They agreed. During the 2008-'09 school year, 22 music teachers (21 from Minnesota, one from Wisconsin) assessed about 1000 3rd grade students using SINGINGCoach. Some also found time to have students practice with it. We held a Sing-Along for the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area with 80 3rd graders and their families.
The next year, the project expanded to 175 music teachers, 5 states, and about 8,000-10,000 students. We held nine district/area Sing-Alongs and numerous school Sing-Alongs.
One music teacher wrote, “The software surprised many of my students who had been told by either a family member or a friend ‘you can't sing.’ They were pleasantly surprised to find out that they could sing and were very good at it too! The software fostered a lot of pride in my students.”
Another teacher reported, “I had one student who finally understood that he was singing much too low (after crying at his previous score of a zero). He soon shot up to a 60…His happiness was more than apparent and on a survey at the end of the year he wrote that he loved music because he now knew that he was good at singing.”
“I can't believe the excitement the computer program generated in my room,” said another music teacher. “The kids were begging to come in at recess time to sing again and see if they could improve their scores. I began with the 5th grade and the news spread throughout our school like wildfire that they had heard their voice and everyone should try the computer program. Even the most reluctant singer tried it and asked if they couldn't try again and improve their score.”
Using 2000 pre- and post-scores from music teachers' classrooms, Dr. Andrew Paney conducted a study to see what effect singing with Singing Coach had on singing accuracy. He published his findings in "Developing Singing in Third-Grade Music Classrooms: The Effect of a Concurrent-Feedback Computer Game on Pitch-Matching Skills" by Andrew S. Paney and Ann C. Kay, published in Update: Applications in Music Education.
In 2017, Electronic Learning Products discontinued maintaining and selling Singing Coach.