1. Build Confidence
This is probably the most important way to furthering your child’s singing voice. How do we do this? First of all, do not tell them they can’t sing. Don’t even tell them that you can’t sing! Everyone can sing. Singing does not belong to only those with the most beautiful of voices. It is an activity that we can all share, and when we tell children that only the best deserve to be heard, we stifle the next generation’s voices before they even begin to develop. So let them sing! Let them make mistakes! Give them room to grow and develop their own voices and support them in their own process.
2. Let Them Be Silly
This ties in closely to #1, as we are often free to be silly/creative when we aren’t afraid of being judged. As a young child, I used to mimic everything I heard: people on the radio, animals, traffic noises, etc. It was a fun game for me, and it is a skill that I still use to this day. Luckily, my parents did not chastise me for making weird noises all the time. When I was in my teens, I jokingly tried to imitate an opera singer. What surprised me was how big my voice sounded, and wow….I didn’t know I had that much vibrato! I started getting very curious about how this “weird sound” was created, and began trying new things with my voice to see what other cool sounds I could make. I hadn’t had one voice lesson at this point, but what I did have was a strong curiosity about how the voice worked and what it could do. If you encourage your child to be silly with their voices, they’ll too discover an amazing range of sounds and colors in their own voices.
3. Music, Music, and More Music
Expose your child to music, any and all music, at an early age. Belt out your favorite Rihanna tunes with them. Play them Mozart, The Beatles, Whitney Houston, Counting Crows, or John Philip Sousa marches. Expose them to all different genres of music from reggae to ragtime to R&B. Challenge them to clap along to the beat, or see if they can sing a song from memory. How does this make children better singers, you may ask? Because one of the most important skill a child can have is a strong aural intelligence, or hearing intelligence. The more a child is surrounded by music, the more likely they will be able to understand the basics of rhythm and pitch. And the more varied the genres of music exposed to, the better the grasp of the incredible range the human voice is capable of.
4. Have Them Perform
I know this is a difficult one for the chronically-shy child. However, if #1 and #2 are being followed, your child is hopefully on their way to taking new risks and enjoying singing, because singing is supposed to be fun! Performance ideas include singing a song for the family, doing a family karaoke night, singing in church, joining a youth chorus, and/or getting involved in a local opera or musical. Start small with your child and stress that the “performance” doesn’t have to be perfect and it’s okay to be nervous. It’s okay if they mess up. It’s okay to make mistakes. Even professionals makes mistakes and it’s all about learning from those mistakes and trying again.
Lessons are a great way to help your child along in their own musical journey. Under the guidance of a professional, your child will learn all the basics of singing such as good posture, correct breathing, and healthy vocal production. Lessons are also a great way to find appropriate repertoire for your child’s vocal growth, and provides them with an opportunity to learn how to sing in a new language. It’s important to find a teacher that understands that singing in front of others is scary sometimes, but with the right tools, we can learn how to sing better, enjoy the process, and take pride in our own unique voices.
Written by Erica Convery