Interactive Think Aloud

The Interactive Think Aloud (Lapp, Fisher, & Grant, 2008) strategy involves a teacher modeling by “thinking aloud” so students can see and hear a teacher monitoring his or her own comprehension.  This teacher demonstrates an exhuberance which makes his students want to learn! Notice the expression he puts into his reading of the story and how he stops to explain what he’s thinking.

In the vocal classroom, this can be done with either the printed text/poem or using the actual music with text underlay.  Understanding one does not mean a student understands the other.  For example, let’s look at a well-known folksong, Sally Gardens.  There is much about this text that students may not understand initially.  However, as a teacher reads it aloud and gives meaning to the text, the students begin to understand the setting and characters involved. 

Down By the Salley Gardens


Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;

She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.

She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;

But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,

And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.

She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;

But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

When viewing the melody alone in scrolling notation, the students can hear the melody without words.  Discussion can include why the words were set to the melody in this way. 

Now, when the students listen to a female performer sing the text, they can begin to imagine why the text was set to this melody.

When listening to the music of a different setting, the students can begin to understand how the song reflects the text, particularly when accompanied by Benjamin Britten’s effective accompaniment.  This 1944 recording features Britten accompanying Peter Pears singing.