Last week we posted about instrument lessons and the best time to start those. This week, we aim to answer a similar question: when is it the right time to start voice lessons? As it was the case with instrument lessons, this decision will depend on multiple factors. Some of those factors are very similar to the ones in our instrument post, but being the voice an instrument that is part our body, there are other things to take into consideration when making that decision.
The first one is, as it was in the case of instruments, the student’s level of interest. Some children love singing and want to learn all about it. They are curious about technique and wonder how a particular singer can do certain things. Those students are usually very excited about the idea of developing their technique and performance skills. They love singing in a group, but also enjoy a little time in the spotlight. They are ready to listen to constructive feedback and willing to practice in order to perfect their skills. This is a good sign that a child is ready for private lessons.
The second factor to consider is the teacher. Sometimes the minimum age required by a teacher in order to enrol students in their voice studio doesn’t have anything to do with the students themselves or the technique being taught, but the teacher’s level of comfort in working with specific ages. Some teachers prefer teaching younger students; some prefer teaching older students, and that is fine. There is no specific technique that is better for this or that age, but each teacher will have a different approach depending on children’s ages and many times a teacher might decide that their approach might not be suitable for children that are too young. The best way to determine that is by speaking with your prospective teacher and, if possible, scheduling a trial lesson.
The third factor to consider is student’s development. Before 8 years of age, many children can sing songs that are considered advanced; yet show no signs of strain or discomfort. That is because their vocal folds are so small and the sound they produce is so gentle that everything sounds healthy, even when it isn’t. Between 8 and 10 years of age, children already have a better understanding of how their bodies work and can easily identify discomforts as well as make certain corrections when singing in order to develop a healthy technique.
At Crescendo, we choose to start teaching students that are at least 10 years old. We believe that, at that age, children are mature enough to understand concepts such as how their vocal apparatus works and what happens when they sing in various different ways. That certainly helps during the lesson as the teacher explains certain concepts and techniques, as well as to ensure that students are practicing in the healthiest way possible at home.
When children are interested in singing, but younger than 10 years of age - or maybe that age, but not interested in solo singing - we usually recommend that they enrol in either group classes, singing ensembles or choirs. In those classes, children will have the opportunity to develop their musicality through singing, learn new repertoire and nourish their love for singing in a fun and engaging way while meeting other singers that, like them, want to share the joy of singing. It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, there is always a place for you to share your music and sing.