Children deserve the right to explore and learn about their voice just as much as teens and adults. Don’t you wish you had more direction with your voice when you were a child? I know I do. Children learn to speak by mimicing what they hear, and children can learn to sing by mimicing what they hear as well. However, listening to commercial/contemporary music is not the answer. In fact, this is what causes many young singers to run into poor singing habits.
How we sing can be a direct result of how we speak. Vocal habits (good and bad) are developed early in childhood, and can be carried on throughout a lifetime. Many factors influence the speaking habits of children, such as coping with asthma, allergies and reflux; genetic factors such as the shape and size of the vocal structure including the mouth, throat and jaw; social components such as whether a child lives in a busy and loud household; and what about the child who attends sports events and has developed the habit of shouting and yelling.
Parents need to be made aware. A child’s voice is an instrument they will have for a lifetime. If managed properly from an early age, it will grow and develop into a beautiful, healthy instrument.
In my studio, children are encouraged to sing from a very young age. We make high sounds and low sounds, loud sounds and soft sounds. We learn to hoot like an owl, and meow like a cat. All these coordinations are useful in learning to sing.
Small group settings work well, and are especially fun when incorporated with actions for the very young. It’s important to not make practising sounds a serious task. Most children will simply copy what you suggest and have fun doing it. If this is repeated regularly, their small voices with memorize these coordinations and easily repeat back on task. Pitch is then usually mastered if sounds are encouraged in a consistent way in the same part of the voice every time.