What can you teach a young child in a voice lesson?

Happy_ChildhoodLet’s say you have a 10 year old who is interested in voice lessons. Many voice teachers will not teach children that young, but if the girl sings a lot and wants lessons to improve her singing, can lessons possibly be beneficial?

They most certainly can!

It is important to consider what is healthy both psychologically and physically.

Nots:

  • Building resonance
  • Making the sound bigger, louder, or more penetrating
  • Repertoire that only sounds good in older voices
  • Lyrics that a 10 year old cannot relate to
  • Opera
  • Song sets and shows exclusively in belt style
  • Belt in general, for most children

Yes!:

  • Good posture and body use
  • Legato
  • Music reading and theory
  • Keyboard skills
  • Folk songs
  • Easy classical songs (not arias) in the student’s native language that they can understand
  • Mixy pop songs that are not too adult lyrically
  • Easy exploration of chest and head, even for natural belters. Children are perfectly capable of understanding registration issues if they are explained simply.
  • Audition and performance etiquette
  • Improvisation
  • Listening skills
  • Rhythm games involving movement

As you can see, I’m suggesting several musical and physical skills that are not strictly about “the voice” that are great for children at this age. If you are not fond of children and teaching general music, then you might want to pass on the young ones. However, I have found that having a few of these in my studio is a delightful change of pace, and gives me a chance to emphasize skills that I wish my older students had developed when they were young.

Please don’t try to mold the pre-pubescent child into a miniature adult opera singer or Broadway belter. There is time for that later, and rushing makes it virtually certain that bad habits will come in that will be very difficult to correct later.

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

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