Updated: Jan 26
Several times monthly parents will call me to ask it their young child should take professional voice lessons. Usually they say that the child has a great voice and everyone says they sound like (fill in your favorite pop star.) Should children young children learn to sing at such a young age?
We should consider childhood milestones first:
1.When the child sings at age 3 or 4 are they singing along with nursery rhymes and children's songs on Sesame Street or other young children's programming or are they belting out pop songs that they hear the adults listening to?
2. Does the child make up their own songs when playing alone or playing with others?
3. Does the child demonstrate understanding of rhythm such as clapping with music or dancing?
4. When the child sings are they raising their shoulders and head to the ceiling while belting out loudly or are they "belly breathing" and singing in a children's soft, head voice?
5. Is the child mature enough to understand posture and breathing?
6. Can the child count t o 100, recite the alphabet and read three word sentences ( i.e. See Spot run?)
7. Can your child repeat a brief melodic and rhythmic pattern they hear once?
8. Does he/she/they love to sing in front of family and friends?
9. Is the child's language development appropriate for their age? And finally:
10. Is your child going to practice 20 to 30 minutes every day or is this going to be just another battle?
Learning to sing is exactly like learning any other musical instrument. Children will have to learn to breathe correctly, learn posture, music notation, repeat simple musical phrases and rhythms, learn the Solfege system ( Do Re Me...) If you think that your child is not developmentally ready then save your money and instead invest in Kinder Music, Music Together or other Early Childhood music program to learn rhythm, movement and listen to age appropriate music.
On the other hand if your child is rising their shoulders and belting out pop songs you need to have this addressed as the child is setting themselves up for serious vocal issues. Pop singing ( commercial music) requires too much sub-glottal pressure and vocal power for children since their vocal folds are only 1/8 inch long! The vocal mechanism ( the larynx, hyoid bone, vocal folds, thyroarytenoid and cricothyroid muscles) has not developed enough for this kind of powerful production in singing. Pop singing should never be taught to young children until after puberty when the hormones will strengthen the muscles and lengthen the vocal folds. That is why many voice teachers will not work with children's voices younger than 11 or 12 years old.
To decide if voice lessons are right for your child please contact me before you sign up your child for "America's Got Talent" or "The Voice" when you child's grandmother says he/she/they should be on TV!