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CPM chorus students learn how the voice works

Published on Thursday, April 29, 2021

students' hands holding their larynx models

The larynx plays a big role when one sings a tune, which is why these College Park Middle chorus students got to do a cross-categorical lesson on singing and the anatomy of the voice.

Catherine Howland, director of choirs at College Park Middle, recently had her sixth-grade chorus students craft their own larynxes.

This activity was part of a larger unit on the “vocal mechanism,” or how the voice works. In this unit, students are learning about the anatomy/physiology of the voice, vocal health, and the middle school voice change.

In having students build larynxes, the goal was for them to explore and become familiar with the different parts of the larynx. Howland said her students enjoyed the hands-on exploration and the opportunity to craft and build something.

“My favorite part about teaching this lesson with these students was how inquisitive the students were about the topic,” she said. “They asked amazing questions and constantly wanted to know more, which made their learning process more effective – and made my job really fun.”


-Paper larynx template (cutouts of the different parts of the larynx – can be found online)

-Scissors, glue, and paper fasteners to put the pieces together

-Pipe cleaners to represent the vocal cords



First, the students learned about the vocal cords: what they are, where they are found and how they work. They also watched a video (stroboscopy) of real-life vocal cords. Following a discussion about the larynx, the students built their own. Students followed instructions (presented textually and pictorially) at their own pace, with help from the teacher when needed.

Steps to building the larynx:

  1. Cut out all the pieces and fold along the dotted lines.
  2. Glue the cricoid cartilage into a ring.
  3. Glue the arytenoid cartilages into pyramid shapes.
  4. Fasten the arytenoid cartilages onto the cricoid.
  5. Fasten the thyroid cartilage onto the cricoid.
  6. Poke the pipe cleaners between the arytenoids and the thyroid cartilage to create the vocal cords.



Building the larynxes gave the students a tangible representation of everything that is going on in their throats when they make sounds. They are now aware of how their voices work, which makes them better singers. For example, they understand why breathing is essential to singing and how to use their vocal cords properly to make good singing sounds.