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!