Singing lessons for 9yo - what do I need to know?

(23 Posts)
AChickenCalledKorma Tue 01-Jul-14 08:29:11

DD2 is 9yo and is interested in starting music lessons. She has a very strong singing voice and an excellent sense of pitch. But she lacks the confidence to sing solo in front of anyone.

I think she could really make something of her voice and singing lessons could be a way to show her that she has talent, and help her gain confidence. But I'm aware that there are risks in "training" a young voice before puberty.

Any music teachers or chorister parents out there who can advise what I should be aware of?

Theas18 Tue 01-Jul-14 10:05:11

Umm what to say... Just sing!

Has she thought about joining a choir before starting individual lessons? a childrens choir could be a good start ( one with a proper trainer). Even a church choir. It's hard to sing alone if you are feeling a bit shy, even in a lesson.

Only a parent, ( choristers) so what I say is experience based, i have no training, but I'd avoid personally the " Britain got talent" belting it out style of singing, I don't think that's good for the voice, or any where "louder" means shout your head off. DS withdrew from school choir as really they didn't know about kids singing and were going for shouting . Many schools have excellent music teachers though.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Tue 01-Jul-14 10:19:22

Chorister parent here, so again just experience based.

Agree with avoiding 'shouty' choirs. DS2's school choir is a good one that warms up voices before they start singing.

Is she at all interested in being a chorister? It is a great route to go down if there is a suitable choir near you. DS2 is a chorister at a Cathedral with no attached school, although it means more running about for parents. He gets free individual singing lessons, grant towards instrument tuition, pcoket money and an annual bursar.

You don't need to be able to sing to become a probationer, they look for potential ability.

Theas18 Tue 01-Jul-14 10:33:52

Rasp is right of course, chorister training is ace but. Huge commitment though ( we have no choir school either). 9 would be a good age for a girls choir voice trial in most places - ours will take the right child at any age but 9-11 start is favoured ( the little ones can't take the pace - they do more with less rehearsal than the boys choir, as they can do it being older).

RaspberryLemonPavlova Tue 01-Jul-14 15:28:05

Boys and Girls choirs are the same age here, only difference is boys can stay on in Y9 if their voices haven't changed, but girls have to leave at the end of Y8. It doesn't make sense to me either! There is Youth Choir for both afterwards though, which sings Evensong once a week.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 01-Jul-14 15:36:40

Hello OP

My dd is 10 and a singer, she mostly enjoys singing in choirs but has lessons as well.
No good teacher will train the voice at this age as it is so delicate, so if you find one that will, run a mile.
Singing lessons are fine though if the teacher knows what they are doing and confines the child to the head voice and avoids the chest.
My advice would be to seek professional help and make sure the teacher is respected by other teachers. Be prepared to pay top whack to avoid somebody harming her voice.
Good luck, it's a lovely gift for them to have.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 02-Jul-14 08:21:20

Thanks all. She does, of course, already "just sing" at every available opportunity. But generally only when she forgets that anyone is listening!

I hadn't thought about looking around for decent children's choirs. But I am an amateur choral singer with lots of musical contacts and I haven't heard of anything like that locally. Apart from the inevitable Stagecoach/musical theatre groups which I don't think would appeal to her. Will have a look around though.

Morethan have you any idea where one would go to find teachers that understand about children's voices? I can ask around at choir, but would also like to do my own research.

JulieMichelleRobinson Wed 02-Jul-14 13:40:35

At that age, not that I teach singing, but I'd be teaching breath control, diction, and if necessary how to sing in tune. Also music-reading, general aural skills and in a choral setting the ability to hold a part. Good warm-up techniques. And not much else.

Shedding Thu 03-Jul-14 20:52:18

My DD1 is 8 and has singing lessons with the local music service, just 15-30mins in between the various other activities she does there each week which includes 'ensemble skills' which is singing with others. It's a lovely experience for her and very low key but the highlight for her is getting to sing solos. I think most councils have similar operations. She actually sings quieter since she started lessons.

Oen1 Thu 03-Jul-14 21:07:17

I 'm a singing teacher mainly specialising in children's voices and JulieMichelleRobinson's post is spot on. The only thing I'd add is getting many of them out of the bad habits they've already learned from singing along to their favourite pop singers. More and more of them these days, sadly.

JulieMichelleRobinson Thu 03-Jul-14 23:00:29

Oen1 -

I don't teach singing mainly because I never had a lesson so have no idea what goes on in lessons. This is the girl who got a choral scholarship at university by singing alto (I used to sing almost like a counter-tenor, it's a more "female" sound now I'm older) and being an excellent sight-reader with good intonation. Good diction comes with my accent, which is pretty RP. How to teach any of that, therefore, is beyond me.

Weirdly, I'm comfortable training a choir from scratch.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 04-Jul-14 13:56:32

Oen.

I would also add that many of the Disney songs and shows such as Wicked aren't too good for young girls either.
my dd was showing an interest in several of these and they are scored as low as G.
Unless i'm mistaken which I very well could be grin should a primary aged child be singing this low?

It is difficult though because even being a member of a choir can harm a child. I have heard primary school teachers encourage children to almost shout through a song, and never do a warm up before starting. this is why I would avoid this type of choir.
A county children's choir or even school choir run by a professional singing teacher is different though as they are aware of these things.

OP, try contacting your local music service in the first instance to see what they offer. If there isn't much happening contact the poshest private school or specialist music school in your area and ask who they use/list of teachers. If this fails pm me and I'll see if I know anyone in your area, may not do, but worth a try.
Be cheeky and find contact from BBC for Garoth Malone, I bet he will help/know somewhere.
I have learned with a dd with an insatiable appetite for singing to seek opportunities from the wildest of my imagination grin

Oen.

Any advice where we can go from here. DD is 10 and currently working within grade 6 level, although only just taken grade 4.
Sings in a well known and respected choir and county choir.
She wants to do more but daren't look at any more choirs as couldn't commit as there would be rehearsal and concert clashes.

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 04-Jul-14 18:00:37

Tee hee. I am already fb "friends" with Gareth Malone. I wonder how many hundred such requests he gets each week!

Thanks for more interesting thoughts. County music service is a bit rubbish (have been waiting nine months for even the slightest hint of when she might possibly be able to start instrumental lessons), but I guess I could give them a ring. Don't know if they run any proper choirs. School choir is definitely of the "encouraging them to shout" variety, although she does love it.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 04-Jul-14 18:08:55

You could be a fully committed mum to singer God forbid. It's not for the faint hearted and can have you driving to the arse end of nowhere every weekend throughout January at 7.00 in the morning.
Look to your nearest City and contact their professional symphony, philharmonic orchestra/visit their website. Find audition dates for next year when your dd will be 10, as this years auditions are just gone or happening now for September. They all run some sort of singing groups for children, but come with a hell of a commitment grin

JulieMichelleRobinson Fri 04-Jul-14 19:12:01

Low G at 9yo? Umm... it probably depends on the child. I'm a true alto (not a mezzo, though I can sing high) so it probably did me no harm, but given that proper altos are actually quite rare I suspect it wouldn't be a good move. Also, a lot of MT songs are belted, which should be discouraged in children.

scouseontheinside Sat 05-Jul-14 13:52:39

What about a musical theatre group? I'm thinking about one for DD as she loves to perform. The only thing is, she'll have to give up one of her other beloved activities it will be too much otherwise!

Does you DD enjoy acting?

Timeisawastin Thu 10-Jul-14 11:34:26

My daughter started singing at 9 in her school choir and when they entered her in competitions as a soloist. She started lessons at 12 and had them for 2 years but she wasn't happy with the teacher and her voice was 'breaking' as she was growing so quickly. She has spent the last year rehearsing and singing with a National Opera company youth section and will start lessons with a new teacher in September. She's now 15.6 and her voice seems more ready for the demands of classical training.

Based on our experience, I don't think at 9 your Dd needs to do more than be singing in fun groups and learning some music theory. There's plenty of time to learn to sing and her voice has a long way to go until it's ready for more demands.

Shedding Thu 17-Jul-14 18:27:41

Sorry tp hijack but I have a couple of singing lesson questions regarding my nearly 9 year old DD and thought that perhaps with the nice clear title, the info might be useful together if someone searched in the future?

Just planning DDs lessons for next year and it looks like it will be a 30 min joint singing lesson (I know unsusal for singing but she has a very talented little friend who she also learns her instrument with, it really works well) and then choir for an hour (non shouty! Run by the music theory/ flute teacher as a personal project). She potentially will have a couple of hours choir singing on another evening if she gets a yes in a couple of weeks (have positive feedback via singing teacher already). My question is is this too much? Plus constant home based warbling!

Additionally, her teacher has suggested an ABRSM grade 3 exam in in the next sitting. Is there any harm/point in this? I trust her teacher to choose appropriate songs but should I suggest grade 2 instead? She already knows a song from each list for that!

TIA for any advice.

Shedding Thu 17-Jul-14 18:28:47

And do I really need to ban 'Let it go'?! shock

Oen1 Thu 17-Jul-14 22:48:17

I wrote a long reply a couple of weeks ago but it seems to have disappeared (I have a 9 year old gremlin).

Most children will not have much of a range below middle c and should not be singing lower than this regularly (pop songs and songs from more modern musicals regularly pitch well below this). I also wouldn't expect any vocal style to be developed at this point - no training them how to belt or sing operatically (for want of better ways to describe it). Good breathing and breath support, clear diction and good pitch are the areas I concentrate on until well into their teens. I could write pages on this, but these are the basics.

With regard to exams I do the lower grades (1-4) with the primary age students, but you reach a point where the range of the songs and the subject matter is beyond their maturity (both vocally and emotionally). I looked into the National College of Music's medal exams as a means of giving them an exam to work towards without moving them ahead too quickly. The downside of these exams is the cost. You have to pay for the exam and then once they've passed you have to pay for the medal on top. From what I could see they're also not recognised for points towards uni applications etc.

I now have an arrangement with a few local amateur choirs (male voice and ladies choirs mostly - not the ones who put on full oratorios and masses). My singers get the experience of performing, which gives them something to work towards. I would advise other parents of budding singers to contact their local choirs. They usually love to have youngsters sing with them at their smaller local concerts.

Let it Go - while I wouldn't "teach" this song to children I have let one or two sing it. With the higher notes I've taught them to hit them gently. There's not a lot you can do about the lower notes, but as long as they aren't singing this type of song regularly and flat out, letting them sing the "in song" of the moment sometimes does not harm. If it's the only type of song they're singing though, alarm bells should be ringing. Defying Gravity is another one of these as are many of the more modern Disney songs.

If I've missed any queries to me out or if anyone wants to know anything else feel free to ask. I can't promise I'll get back immediately though sorry.

Oen1 Thu 17-Jul-14 22:50:14

Should have said that I send my pupils as soloists not to sing in the choirs.

nickelbabe Thu 17-Jul-14 23:10:46

oen1 has good comments.

I'm a cgoir trainer.
the phrase used earlier saying you shouldn't train a child's voice is misleading, I think.
no, you shouldn't train a specific style, but you should indeed train the voice.
it's a muscle like any muscle, and it needs to be trained to use it properly
. you need to sing regularly and often, but you also need to learn to do that without straining the voice.
good warm-ups are really hard to do, and actually, we spend about half of our practice warming up - using breathing, rhythm and singing exercises.

church choirs are a good start, if they've got a dedicated children's section, and look out for an RSCM choir

Shedding Fri 18-Jul-14 04:05:48

Thank you, that's all really helpful, I am very new to all this smile

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