Let’s write a song!

It’s composition time at Music for Young Children! We are learning about techniques that make writing a song easy!

Children love being creative. Whether it’s drawing a picture, pretending to be a character in a story, or writing a piece of music, children love to explore their creativity.

The Music for Young Children program presents the elements of writing a song into 4 essential components. Motive, repetition, sequence, and retrograde.

When we are finished, we have a composition recital with a treat afterwards. Every student performs their song for their class. It’s great fun!

Some students even sing and play their original song at the same time!


My Prediction

I predict we will continue to be amazed! As young musical people listen to an array of unique and interesting singing voices on the internet, they learn that anything is possible. The human mind and body is so remarkable, and the internet can be a great teacher! Young singers who explore their voice and the sounds they can make from an early age are raising the bar for others.

True natural talent is the young singer who has figured out the freedom of their own voice at a young age, and sings with that freedom daily.

Young singers are no longer simply influenced by teachers at their local church or school, or singers they hear on TV or the radio. Now they are influenced by what other young singers are doing all over the world.

Young singers who find the freedom and release, that encompasses the art of performing with emotion and spirit, are popping up everywhere.

I am not saying that any young singer can learn to do this! Oh no, by far! It is a rare young person who will figure this out. I am simply stating that we will continually be amazed by young naturally talented singers who do!

Singing technique for children

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.

Finding your head voice…..

This is such an important topic….. the head voice.

I have two singing students currently age 9 and 10 who have great pitch and love to sing. The problem is they came to me not ever having used their head voice. They’ve never mimicked or experienced their head voice. They’ve avoided the entire range about their first bridge. Needlesstosay, the only songs they want to sing are from artists who sing below their first bridge such as Taylor Swift. This can be severely limiting and unfortunate to a young singer.

Children need to be taught to experience their light, babyish, high voice at an early age. This can be done by mimicking the sound of a bird or a train whistle. Children with a high speaking voice have an easier time because they are already close to their head voice. However, girls and boys who have a deeper speaking voice, usually because they have slightly shorter and thicker vocal cords, may have a more difficult time. It’s usually this type of singer that gets “stuck” in their chest voice.

Another thing to watch out for is the child who frequently has a hoarse or raspy voice. It’s highly likely their vocal cords are damaged from either poor speech habits, frequent loud talking or yelling such as at a hockey game, or possibly from swelling in the larynx due to health reasons. These children usually have trouble finding their head voice as well.

It is amazing to me how many children and adults have poor speech quality in their voice. The singing voice starts at speech level, so if a voice is muddy and unclear when talking, then it’s going to be muddy and unclear when singing.

Hopefully this article has raised some awareness for parents. If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Why Music for Young Children?

There are many reasons  to choose a MYC program over a typical piano teacher. Here are just a few:

  • Students as young as 6 know how to make and use the Circle of 5th’s (from logic)…….not just by memorizing what to write down! Does your music teacher?
  • Students as young as 5 are learning “harmony”. MYC teaches I, IV and V7 chord progressions to be used in any key signature. This means students can play songs without looking at a music book. Can your music teacher?
  • MYC is fun! 30 years of world-wide success can’t be wrong!!

Freedom to improv….

Have you ever seen an amazing pianist perform flawlessly when they are given a piece of music, but if you take the music away they are really stuck? It is very common to get carried away with the technical side of things. Let’s face it, Bach and Mozart wanted you to play their music exactly as it was written.

There is no doubt that technique is a vital component to playing music, however does technique give you the elements to be creative on your own? Here at the Bee Music Studios we teach creativity and improvisation as well.

In the Music for Young Children program, children are learning to chord as young as 5 years of age. That’s right……..they are playing Hot Crossed Buns, or Jingle Bells, or Mary Had a Little Lamb with no music!! It’s really not that difficult.

The key is learning to listen and play patterns and chords in I, IV and V with no music. Here in the Music for Young Children program, that’s exactly what they are doing, along with reading music. Both aspects are key elements in the develop of a strong foundation of music understanding.

Your comments are appreciated……..Have a great holiday! Susie

How old should my child be to take singing or piano lessons?

First, let’s start with singing.

Children should be encouraged to match pitch as soon as they start to talk. For instance, matching low sounds like a frog, or high sounds like a fire siren…..these are important first steps in ear training and learning to match pitch.  It helps them recognize their high voice (the fire siren) and their low voice (the frog).

Singing “on key” can start to become a problem when the child only learns to “hear himself”  instead of listening to both himself and the accompanying music and singer. This is where the adult can be very helpful by encouraging proper pitch matching in a fun and loving way. Music classes once a week such as Music Pups and Music for Young Children are a wonderful way for the family to sing and enjoy music together.

The recommended age to actually start singing lessons is much debated. In my studio we start at the age of 6. As long as the student is able to pay attention for 20 minutes of vocal warm-ups and exercises, followed by 10 minutes of singing songs, then this is a good age to start lessons.

Lessons help the child learn how to sing through their entire vocal register…..both the head voice and the chest voice.  Lessons draw attention to matching pitch in the correct register. This helps eliminate any bad habits such as reaching for high notes in their chest voice. Students also develop a comfort with performance because they are singing with other students, and performing regularly in front of their parents. All these steps add up to huge benefits for their self-esteem and, of course, their singing voice!!

When should a child start piano lessons?

Do you remember when you started piano lessons? I do…I was 5. I think the novelty lasted about a year and a half. The only reason I continued was because my family was very musical and my grandmother taught me how to chord.

Today, we have a great program called Music for Young Children that helps make having a music/piano lesson fun for the entire family. Students get together in a small group setting with their parent and meet for up to an hour to study the keyboard and music education. Children start as young as 3! The hour is filled with songs and games about the critters that live on the keyboard, and the rhythm critters who tell us how to play our keyboard. The children love this.

Currently in my studio I have students as young as 9 achieving their Grade 1 Royal Conservatory piano exam and Preliminary Rudiments theory exam. All students do very well. The reason…….because we have fun and because the family is involved.

Homework and keyboard/piano practise is assigned weekly. It is the parent’s responsbility to see that this is accomplished. There is some flexibility in the program, so when things get tough the student has options so they can reach the same degree of achievement. The program is phenomenal and must be seen to be really appreciated.

Parents are encouraged to visit the myc.com website for a teacher near you. This program is celebrating its’ 30th year, and the founder is a Canadian named Francis Belodis whom I am very fond of!

That’s all for now! Questions and remarks are welcome!