Frequently, I am asked when children should begin voice lessons. Most voice teachers will not teach a child until they are at least 12 years old. I do teach younger students, but I do not work on true vocal technique as their voices are still developing. Instead, I teach the student solfege, how to read music, and musicianship.
Outside of vocal lessons, I encourage young singers to join a choir, take piano lessons, and learn how to sight-sing using solfege. Then, I use these seven steps to proper singing in children. If you have a basic knowledge of music, you can help your child improve their singing at home.
1. Stretch before you sing
You can’t sing your best if your body is tense like a rubber band.
*Lean over to touch your toes then slowly come back up to a standing position and shake everything out to release tension.
2. Use good posture
Singing well is impossible if you are slouched over like a couch potato.
*Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart; be careful not to lock your knees or you may pass out. Pretend someone is pulling a string from the top of your head, like a marionette, to feel taller.
3. Practice low breathing
Let your abdomen drop forward as you take a breath. Don’t breathe with your shoulders; that’s not where your lungs are.
*Place one hand on your lower abdomen, one hand at the side of your lungs, and breathe. You should feel your lungs expand and your abdomen drop forward like there is a giant balloon in your tummy.
4. Warm up
Stretch your vocal chords like you would stretch before playing sports or dancing so you do not injure yourself.
*Make a siren sound from high to low. Next, sing the solfege scale, “do re me fa sol la ti do” to stretch your range. Finally, sing an easy song such as “Jingle Bells” or “Do a Deer” to finish warming up.
5. Sing without straining
Sing naturally, as if you are speaking, it should not feel like you are yelling.
*If you feel tense, try swallowing and checking your posture. Louder does not equal better singing!
6. Stay healthy
Since your body is your instrument, you must keep your body healthy and strong.
*Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and stay hydrated. If you are sick, sing carefully or stop singing and speaking altogether.
7. Sing every day
Practice makes permanent, so what you sing and how frequently you sing it determines how much you will improve.
*Try putting on talent shows at home and practice performing for family and friends.
My little musicians love to sing! I don't give them formal voice lessons, but we use these principals when they practice for a recital or school performance. Remember, children cannot learn to sing from a recorded voice. It is only possible for a child to learn how to match pitches from another human being. No matter how insecure you may be about your voice, please sing with your child!