Article Written by Guest Author – Crystal Casey
Singing is the most ancient and innate form of music-making, and most children naturally begin to sing as they become proficient talkers. It’s an activity that is part of our humanity, and many children enjoy singing from a very early age. For those kids that take a particular fondness for singing— who naturally sing well, who express an interest in music or performance, or who just sing all the time seemingly nonstop, parents may start to consider voice lessons for their budding vocalist.
It was previously thought that children should not begin vocal lessons until puberty when the voice begins to mature, but the general consensus on this has changed over the last several decades. In fact, there are many benefits of voice lessons for kids. The voice matures and changes throughout our entire lifetimes and puberty is just the beginning, so starting reasonably early is recommended. Here is everything a parent needs to know about singing lessons for kids:
What Age Should a Child Start Voice Lessons?
Children should start singing lessons when they are developed and mature enough mentally to comprehend instruction and focus on a single task for at least 30 minutes. Beginner music lessons typically start at 30 minutes, so it’s important that the child is able to focus for that long. The age that a child is able to do this can vary widely depending on the individual, but it typically starts to happen between the ages of 6 and 8 years. A safe age range for beginning singers is roughly 7-9 years old, with 6 usually being considered a minimum. Few start sooner, and many start later. It’s important to note that these numbers are based on averages. There are, however, some things parents can do at home with their children who are too young to begin private singing lessons.
How Do I Teach My Child About Singing?
When your child is too young to take singing lessons, you can encourage singing and an interest in music by playing a wide variety of music in the home. Exposure is the first important aspect of learning music. Many families are not particularly musical, and that’s completely okay. But, if you have a child that’s showing a natural gravitation to music and singing, it’s a very good idea to expose them to the vast world of music, from pop/rock to jazz to ethnic to classical. Children are naturally curious, and providing this information that is so easily available to every household is one of the best things you can do for them musically.
Avoid being critical of your young child’s voice. Our voices are very personal to us, and of all the instruments, the voice is the most difficult from a confidence perspective. At the same time, excessive over-flattering can lead to self-doubt later when they meet an instructor who will show them how they can improve. The best way to boost their confidence is to make singing a normal part of life in your home without any judgment at all. Sing easy songs with them, using music to celebrate both individuality and community. How “good” or “bad” a child sings is mostly irrelevant at this point. Just teach your child that singing is fun!
Encourage your child to rest their voice when rest is needed. Resting your vocal cords is an absolute must when the voice sounds hoarse. This usually only happens due to sickness or occasional overuse from exciting events like birthday parties or ball games. Discourage excessive screaming and excessive whispering, which is also surprisingly harmful. If your child’s voice is chronically hoarse, consult their pediatrician or GP, as they may need a referral to a speech-language pathologist.
Once your child is reaching an age and maturity level that is appropriate for singing lessons, it’s time to get a qualified instructor. While you can do a search for “singing lessons near me,” you don’t have to. Online voice lessons for kids are proven to be both highly effective and convenient. If your child has a notably good voice, shows an interest in singing professionally, or has a passion for music and singing, it is particularly important to enroll them in real-time lessons with a qualified instructor, whether online or in-person. Parents and YouTube alone cannot teach a child age-appropriate techniques for safe vocal production.
Are Voice Lessons Good for Kids?
Fun singing lessons have many benefits for kids. A good singing instructor will teach children to use their voice safely and effectively, but the benefits go beyond music and vocal production. It is scientifically proven that singing lowers stress and anxiety levels. Singing stimulates the vagus nerve and increases the production of oxytocin, a hormone that is responsible for feelings of social warmth and bonding. This makes singing an excellent activity for individuals prone to nervousness, loneliness, or depression.
Singing boosts self-esteem. We also release endorphins when we sing, which gives the singer a boost of energy and confidence. It’s important to have a voice in this world, and there’s no better way to learn to use one’s voice than to sing. In lessons, we aren’t just learning to sound pretty, we’re learning to express ourselves with confidence and grace.
Singing boosts mindfulness and body awareness. There is so much more to singing than opening the mouth and letting out sound. An experienced vocal instructor will teach their students the proper posture and breathing for effective vocal production. This posture and breath work is kinesthetic in nature. Moreover, the type of posture and breathing needed for good singing goes hand-in-hand with its psychological and neurological benefits— a lowered stress response, a sense of joy and community, and a boost in happy hormones that stimulate energy and confidence.
Believe it or not, singing boosts the immune system. Studies have shown that the act of singing immediately increases antibodies in the mucous membranes and increases airflow in the lungs, making them a less hospitable place for bacteria and other pathogens. This combined with the hormonal and psychological effects of singing produces a significant positive effect on health and well-being.
Can Voice Lessons Damage Kids’ Vocal Cords?
Voice lessons are absolutely safe for children. In fact, some of the most important wisdom an expert singing teacher imparts is the art of protecting (caring for) your vocal cords while using your voice. Kids’ vocal cords are not too underdeveloped to sing 30 minutes per week and engage in regular practice. If they screamed and cried as babies, if they chattered your ears off as toddlers, they can certainly handle singing as grade-schoolers.
It’s true that the voice can be overused, but this only becomes a problem when an individual is singing strenuously for hours every single day, as professionals often do. The amount of vocal use for most anyone at the non-professional level is not going to cause a problem, and teachers will ensure that the voice is used properly and not strained out of its range or beyond its current capabilities.
Parents can help protect and care for their kids’ vocal cords by encouraging good sleep and rest at night, drinking plenty of unflavored water, avoiding excessive shouting, screaming, or whispering, and providing herbal tea and honey when the throat feels dry, tired, or sore from illness or occasional overuse.
How Do I Help Prepare My Child for Vocal Lessons?
On the day of your child’s singing lessons, try to make sure they are well-rested and well-hydrated. Avoid dairy products directly before singing, as dairy stimulates the production of mucous. Allow your child to bring a bottle of water to their singing lesson. Once the lesson is over, ask your child how it went to confirm they enjoyed themselves and felt the session was beneficial.
Ready to Start Singing Lessons For Your Child?
That’s all you need to do as a parent to ensure your young singer has a great experience in singing lessons. Your child’s vocal instructor will take it from there and communicate with you regularly about what they recommend for your child to learn to use their voice with success. This will include a practice routine (how much and what to practice) as well as any other personalized tips. There is no substitute for lessons from a qualified singing teacher when it comes to your child learning to use their voice safely and correctly.
There are many wonderful benefits that come from taking voice lessons, such as building confidence, expanding social circles, and of course developing musical skills. If your child loves to sing or shows potential in vocal performance, then getting them in lessons is a great option for you to consider. Learn more about our singing lesson programs to see what Forbes Music can offer your family. Or get started today by completing our simple music lesson request form for more information.