Your daughter is seven years old, and singing is her life. She sings in the bathroom, she sings on the way to school, at the dinner table, and while falling asleep. She listens to music constantly and sings along with her favorite artists. Everything in her life is a song.
She asks you for voice lessons. Perhaps you’ve contacted a voice teacher to find out more, only to be told, “She is too young for lessons, bring her back when she is in high school.”
Is this true? Is she really too young?
Some voice instructors will refuse to accept young children as students for a very simple reason: with a few exceptions, children’s voices are not ready for the kind of training which is appropriate for adult voices. Children’s voices are smaller in both the literal and physical sense – they cannot create the same volume or range as an adult can without straining. Larynx proportions continue to develop into our 20s, children’s lungs are smaller than ours and require breathing more often. These limitations mean that–for most children–their range is restricted and their voices will tire easier.
Nonetheless, that does not mean that your daughter won’t benefit from voice lessons. You will need to start with a well-trained voice instructor who is experienced in working with very young students, and who can adapt the training and curriculum to mesh with your child’s abilities and limitations. When you select the right teacher, you can expect your child to reap the following rewards:
1. TECHNIQUE A good vocal teacher can catch teach a budding songstress the proper way to sing. Children who take singing lessons can learn the techniques–including posture, form and breathing–which they need to know in order to prevent injury to their vocal cords later in life. A child’s voice should never be physically strained, pushed or overworked, and lessons should concentrate on working the middle range of the voice, without forcing range or volume.
2. MUSICIANSHIP Singing is a great way to teach musicianship to young children. For example, it is never too young to begin ear training. In addition, reading music, learning theory, and developing skills in harmonizing all translate into a life of music enjoyment and will give her a head start on future vocal training or in learning a musical instrument. Your child’s musical education will also be augmented by a repertoire which includes genres of music she might not otherwise be exposed to.
3. SELF ESTEEM Voice lessons can build self confidence and sense of self. Children sometimes try to imitate the sound of adult artists they admire. A vocal instructor can help a child to appreciate that her voice is unique and special and will offer a repertoire designed to fit your child’s range. Many young singers like to sing along to their favorite pop songs; singing for an instructor enables the child to hear themselves, to avoid straining the voice, and to sing on pitch.
4. STAGE PRESENCE Poise and stage presence are skills which can be taught and learned. Your vocal instructor may offer recitals where a child can learn to perform confidently in front of others. Singing on stage utilizes the same skills necessary in order to successfully present a project to a classroom of peers or to make a speech to an assembly of adults. Your child will learn not only to master her nervous feelings, she will also improve in her ability to concentrate under pressure, organize her material and thoughts, and emotionally connect with her audience. Stage presence is a valuable skill!
So go ahead, and enroll her in voice lessons! You know she is going to sing anyway! The vocal instructors at the Oregon Music Academy welcome young students!