When it comes to training voice teachers, the primary focus is on the pedagogy of adult voices. Oftentimes though, private voice teachers don’t learn how to teach young kids.
Many teachers are of the school of thought that no young person should take voice lessons until they’ve gone through puberty, or when they’ve reached high school. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Many young kids are interested in voice lessons, and those who are will probably find someone to teach them, regardless of their age. So ideally, they would find a teacher who understands the young voice and teaches them with care. If you’re interested in this kind of work, begin thinking about the points below to build your education on this special kind of student.
How teaching voice lessons for young kids is different than adults
Teaching voice lessons to young kids definitely differs from teaching adults. The average voice teacher knows this logically. However, it seems that some voice teachers don’t quite think about how it’s different. Here are a couple of differences to keep in mind.
The voice is going to change
As teachers, we need to teach young voices with the understanding that the voice they have now is not the voice they’ll have ten years from now. In fact, their instrument will grow substantially.
There is nothing to fear though. As long as you educate yourself on how the voice changes for both sexes, and navigate your lessons with this knowledge, you and your students will be just fine.
Young minds and voices work differently
We all know that children don’t tend to focus as well as adults do. Yet in one-on-one situations, like voice lessons, we seem to forget this. With a child’s boundless energy, we also can forget that kids’ voices don’t necessarily have the stamina that they themselves have. Therefore, it’s important that voice lessons for young kids last no more than 30 minutes a session.
Hands on learning is better
Even with your most serious young students, kids tend to learn better if they feel involved in the process. This might mean different things for different kids. However, if you can give your student activities to teach them basic voice skills like breath, posture, good tone, etc., they’ll learn more quickly and efficiently. Plus, it can be much more fun to teach that way! For a great resource on these kinds of exercises, check out Singing Lessons for Little Singers.
Teaching musicality is just as important
When a parent brings their kids in for voice lessons, oftentimes the teacher feels as if they must only teach voice. A few parents may want this, but some parents may think that voice lessons are a good way to give their child a general music education. It’s important to talk to the parents about their expectations for their child’s education before lessons begin, but voice lessons can also be spent teaching a child to read music, or teaching them other musical skills.
How to interact with the parents
Another unique aspect of teaching kids is involving their parents. Parents serve as an extra line of communication, and it is vital that all vocal and musical goals are clear to them. Yet there are many aspects of voice lessons for young kids that the parents don’t understand. Here are a couple of things you may want to make sure your student’s parents know. You can either explain these in the student’s first lesson, or have it in your studio policy.
Their child will probably not be a star right away – nor should they be
Numerous voice teachers discourage kids from taking voice lessons simply because the child’s and/or the parents’ expectations are too high, unrealistic, or healthy. While child stars are impressive on the surface, they’re also problematic in many ways. It is vital that both student and parent understand this.
Anything from the previous section
Teaching a child how to sing is difficult enough. It’s even more difficult when parents don’t understand how voice lessons work differently for a child (or how voice lessons work at all). Having realistic expectations for their child and keeping open communication is key to positive voice lessons for young kids.
Very young kids may be better with an instrument or a group music class
Sometimes it seems to me that parents think that voice lessons are somehow an “easier” instrument, or a good means of introducing their kids to music. As teachers, it’s important for us to inform parents that while we certainly can teach them musical skills, they may be more technically and emotionally successful with an instrument or a group music class. When I tell parents that I usually don’t take voice students below the age of 8 or 9, they often seem surprised because of their assumptions about how voice lessons work.
What’s great about teaching young kids
When all is said and done, if you decide to teach voice lessons for young kids yourself, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Young kids are so quickly proud of themselves, and can learn and progress just as quickly, As teachers, it’s a pleasure to see kids learn and grow as they do. Plus, you may have a lifelong client in store.
What concerns do you have about voice lessons for young kids? What’s great about it?
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