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!


What “kind” of voice teacher do you have?

Singers beware…..or should I say parents beware for your child. Check out this scenerio.

You daughter is 13 years old, has a beautiful voice and loves to sing.

You have started to take her to singing lessons every week to the lady across town. She is the teacher everyone takes their children to. She has been teaching for over 30 years. The students all have beautiful voices. Some of these students have gone on to pursue singing as a career, and a few have majored in voice at university.

The students are auditioning in jazz bands and orchestras, theatre productions and radio. Some are looking for record deals and travelling in a band. Unfortunately, some of these singers are not getting “the job”, largely because of ONE REASON.

Are you ready for the reason? Are you sure you’re ready? It’s very simple.

These students, with their beautiful voices, are unable to sing powerfully in their lower register. That’s right. That’s all it is. Power in the chest register.

Their technique is so developed in the head register (with an open throat and lowered larynx), that they have trouble allowing this to change in order to sing pop, rock, contemporary, and Broadway……yes….I said Broadway. To these singers, this feels “wrong”.

So, in closing, parents beware. There are different ways to train the voice. Do you know how yours is being trained?



Think carefully before chosing a voice teacher…

Here are two scenerios to consider:

1. A student starts taking singing lessons at age 8 from a voice teacher who has had his/her training from a university. (This teacher also started his/her singing journey with a teacher who got his/her training from a university). The student accomplishes many singing exams, then goes on to university to complete his/her training in singing and graduates with a beautiful classically trained voice. This student, who is now a teacher, goes on to teach many other young voices.

Scenerio two:  A student starts singing lessons with a voice teacher who has had his/her training from a master teacher in Speech Level Singing. This teacher may have gone to university, but realized the limited potential for “work” with a classically-trained voice. This student doesn’t take vocal exams, but rather learns to sing with a microphone and performs regularly in front of small and large audiences. This student is also writing songs. This student goes to university but not for music. He/she is performing their original music with their band and making money to pay for their education. Later this student gets a record deal ….

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!



Oh no! I’ve lost my voice again!

The dreaded laryngitis. It’s not uncommon among singers, especially during the winter season. You’ve just got over that cold virus,  and you sang too “hard” and talked “too loud” at the party last night, and now you are paying for it. The problem is you need to sing again tonight!

Unfortunately, there is no easy or fast fix. If you don’t learn how to treat your vocal cords properly and with care, then you will end up with swollen cords that can take weeks to return to normal.  

Instead you need to learn how to sing with dynamics and emotion without blowing so much “force” through your cords. Here is a test. Try to sing your favourite songs with intensity, emotion, and dynamics in your house while someone is trying to sleep! You can’t sing loud or you will wake them, but you can’t be boring while you’re singing. Can you do it? Do you have passion and intensity in your voice while trying to sing quietly?

There are exercises that can help you do this better. Learning how to “lean” into the notes or “press” into the notes creates intensity and warmth in your voice and you won’t need  much air to get louder sounds.  Singing high notes is especially difficult to do quietly…….but a good singer can do this! Working on the “cry” in your voice in the high register will help start the “attack” of the note, and then you lean into the note to sustain the warm tone. All of this is done with very little breath coming through your vocal cords!  Instead, the breath is held back by the vocal cords and is “under pressure” behind your vocal cords.

Let me know what you think? Did the exercise work for you?

Singing with Emotion…

When someone wants to learn how to sing better, there are quite a few angles that can help. Technique is obviously very important, and a huge part of the puzzle is being able to sing and show “emotion” in your voice.  How do you know if you are singing with emotion? Well, for me as a listener, if a singer can make me “believe them” then they are emotionally reaching me with their song!

I Just Want to Sing Better!

There are many reasons why the voice may not do what you want it to. Today lets talk about vocal strain! This is probably the most common reason singers have trouble. Quite often the strain is caused by the muscles in the throat tightening up when the singer goes for higher notes. How do you know if these muscles around the larynx are tightening inappropriately when you sing? Does your larynx rise up when you try to sing a high note?

Sometimes the only way to know is by having a professional watch and listen to you sing.  With the help of a  good vocal coach you can learn the best way to sing through your entire range and get the sound you want.  When your voice is exercised properly and regularly (yes, just like going to the gym), then singing becomes as free as talking………and that’s the way it should feel.