Is my child old enough for voice lessons?

Generally I do not like to teach voice lessons to students under the age of 12. However, if a child is already doing a lot of performing, I occasionally have made an exception. For those rare exceptions, I split the lesson time between singing and learning the piano keyboard so that they can become more musically literate. Young voices need to be treated extra carefully in order to keep them healthy. Technical exercises should be easy and minimal.

Younger children who love to sing can benefit from singing in choirs and learning an instrument. These activities would be excellent musical outlets until the young singer’s body matures enough to benefit from significant technical work as soloists.

I work with boys and girls from age 12 whether or not they have begun puberty. If a boy is an active singer before his voice change, lessons during the change can help the transition to go much more smoothly. I strongly oppose having a boy stop singing during the voice change. That can be demoralizing. If a boy with a changing voice has a guide to help him explore his new capabilities, the experience is interesting and enjoyable, and he will advance faster than waiting until some later stage.

If you enjoy this blog, you can read more by grabbing a copy of Sane Singing: A Guide to Vocal Progress, available in print and ebook now!

2 Replies to “Is my child old enough for voice lessons?”

  1. Thanks for the article. I also believe that Young voices need to be treated extra carefully in order to keep them healthy. Technical exercises should be easy and minimal.
    I’m currently working on the f# minor nocturne! they’re beautiful pieces.Don’t get me wrong, you have to be strong and confident to be successful in just about anything you do – but with music, there’s a deeper emotional component to your failures and successes. If you fail a chemistry test, it’s because you either didn’t study enough, or just aren’t that good at chemistry (the latter of which is totally understandable). But if you fail at music, it can say something about your character. It could be because you didn’t practice enough – but, more terrifyingly, it could be because you aren’t resilient enough. Mastering chemistry requires diligence and smarts, but mastering a piano piece requires diligence and smarts, plus creativity, plus the immense capacity to both overcome emotional hurdles, and, simultaneously, to use that emotional component to bring the music alive.
    Before I started taking piano, I had always imagined the Conservatory students to have it so good – I mean, for their homework, they get to play guitar, or jam on their saxophone, or sing songs! What fun! Compared to sitting in lab for four hours studying the optical properties of minerals, or discussing Lucretian theories of democracy and politics, I would play piano any day.

    But after almost three years of piano at Orpheus Academy, I understand just how naïve this is. Playing music for credit is not “easy” or “fun” or “magical” or “lucky.” Mostly, it’s really freakin’ hard. It requires you to pick apart your piece, play every little segment over and over, dissect it, tinker with it, cry over it, feel completely lame about it, then get over yourself and start practicing again. You have to be precise and diligent, creative and robotic. And then – after all of this – you have to re-discover the emotional beauty in the piece, and use it in your performance.

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