Choir, Private Voice Lessons or Ensemble - What should I choose?
Updated: Jun 27, 2021
For those choosing music activities for their children, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of options available for what seems to be the exactly same thing. If your child is interested in singing, should you sign them up for group classes, private classes, choir? What is the difference? Should they do all of them? Don’t worry; we’ll help you decide.
As for everything else related to learning, there is no right answer here, only possibility and choices. As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, starting or not private lessons will depend on many factors, including your child’s age, interest and level of comfort singing alone. For more about that, please check this blog post: https://www.crescendomusicstudio.ca/post/when-is-it-the-right-time-to-start-instrument-lessons
Some children love singing very deeply and, even though they might be ready to start their solo singing adventure, finding a teacher might be tricky. Most teachers won’t accept students younger than 10 – 12 years of age and that might be disappointing for both children and parents. But don't let that discourage you. If your child is between the age of 6 and 10 years of age and really wants to explore their love for singing, there are many age appropriate options for them.
Choirs or Kodaly-based programs would be our first suggestion for young singers. In those types of programs, children can develop their music skills (singing in tune, understanding beat and rhythm, introduction to technique, etc) and learn new and exciting repertoire while surrounded by other children in the same age range who share their passion for singing. Choirs are usually weekly classes and will give children the space to learn while also offering them the support they need in order to feel safe to express themselves through music. It is a great option for kids who love singing on their own as well as for those who prefer singing with others.
For children that although young can already envision themselves on stage we recommend an ensemble type of program. In those classes, children will have the same benefits of choir learning including singing in a group, developing their music skills, learning new repertoire, and investing on their technique. However, on an ensemble class children learn both group pieces (chorus) as well as individual pieces (solos) so they get the best of both worlds (community sining plus spot light). Many of those programs have weekly classes and end their school year with a public performance for parents and friends.
Now, if your child is really set on having private lessons and group singing won't really fulfill their expectations, another option would be to ask your prospective teacher if they would be willing to do a trial lesson in order to assess if private lessons are really the best option for your little one. One of the reasons some teachers choose not to teach children before they are in their teen years is because 101 lessons require too much focus from the child and that can be overwhelming for some students. In a trial lesson, the teacher, the parents and the child will have a chance to see how private lessons work for that particular student before signing up to a full semester or year.
Something else to keep in mind is that the younger the child, the more delicate their voice so the teacher will have to be extra careful when introducing new technique. Vocal health and musical freedom are the most important aspects when teaching one how to sing. When a child is under the age of 10, they might sing brilliantly, but not necessarily in a healthy way. The teacher will need to be extra observant and therefore less directive. Concepts that 10 years old might work on over their first 8 classes, might take younger children 8 months go to over. That is'n t necessarily a disadvantage as singing is just like exercising, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Just keep that in mind when planning this ahead.
Now if your child is older than 10 and you are still having a hard time deciding what is the best option for them, consider talking to them, explaining the difference between each option and getting their feedback about what would make them feel more confortable. In simple words: in choir they would sing with others, in ensemble they would sing with others and by themselves and in private lessons they would sing by themselves and therefore get more individual attention. And that goes for everyone over the age of 10. When in doubt, schedule a trial lesson :)