When I was 8, my parents took me to see The Lion King at the cinema- a small event that planted a lifelong desire to sing! Songs such as ‘ I just can’t wait to be King!’ blasted out as I sang along- there was nothing I loved more!
In every other way I was a shy child- until you gave me a song I loved. Then the whole world opened up before me and I forgot my reservations completely.
I see this magic occur all the time in my students, and it’s a joy to be part of it. Here are my tips for parents and those with the privilege of nurturing young talent…
Keep it fun!
This is so important! Enjoyment isn’t just a nice side effect of your kid singing, it’s THE most important part. If a child is enjoying the process they are much more likely to do well. Whether or not your child is destined to become a star or not, a love of singing can be a wonderful creative and therapeutic outlet for the rest of their life. That’s the best gift you can give anyone, whether they grow up to use it professionally or not. Most kids have academic and social pressures from a young age- there’s huge value in allowing singing to be a space of self expression and ‘play’.
Don’t get wrapped up in ‘talent’
Here’s the thing about talent- scientists have discovered that talent can be grown. Literally! (check out Daniel Coyle’s amazing book The Talent Code to discover more).
The short version is that ‘talent’ is a neurological phenomenon that can actually be seen in brain scans! Thanks to neuroplasticity and ‘muscle memory’ we can actually grow our talent. Some people are definitely born with talent, but passion and dedication have more influence than inborn talent!
This is why it’s important that we focus on the process being enjoyable. If the lessons are fun, your child is likely to feel motivated to practice- this is turn develops confidence, which feeds back into the whole cycle! Rather than focusing on how talented a child is (especially in front of those impressionable ears!) it can be more constructive to celebrate the EFFORT that a child has put into the process. This creates a growth mindset (more about this here) that will benefit them in every area of their life.
Let them sing what they want- if it’s age appropriate!
This is always a bit of a minefield. It’s so important that your child likes what they’re singing but let’s be real- some lyrics just aren’t appropriate for a kid to sing. This is a call that parent and teacher need to make together! Adult lyrics aside, it’s also important that the song is vocally suitable. Anything vocally intense (ie, really high, loud or fast) should be avoided or only practiced in small doses. I don’t outright ‘ban’ technically difficult songs, but find there is usually a healthy compromise.
For example, if a young girl wants to sing a very powerful song (and I know she’s going to belt it out at home anyway) I will encourage her to be aware of her effort level. If it’s a high level ( ‘a 7 out of 10 hard’ or similar) I will ask her to try singing it with a ‘3 out of 10’ so she’s not going to be pushing her voice. I will then steer her towards an easier song by the same artist, or in a similar style.
This approach is usually effective as the child gets greater enjoyment from mastering the easier song, rather than getting disheartened at the difficult one.
They may have their own taste in music!
Although a lot of my young students have strong ideas about the type of music they like, a lot won’t have developed their own tastes yet. One of my young students had always sung serious ‘grown-up’ music, as it was what she’s been encouraged to sing. She was a high achiever and quite ‘serious’ in her approach to singing. I sensed she needed something a bit different. I suggested a bit of Taylor Swift and she had the best time! The spirit of play and fun came back into her performance. I was hoping to instill in her that singing can also be for our own enjoyment, and there’s room for all kinds of music. For other students, venturing outside of the top 40 can open up a whole world of musical possibility! Just like us grown ups, every child will gain something different from their singing lessons! 🙂
If you would like to find out more about singing lessons for kids,you can read more here– or get in touch with me directly on 07341278731
In the meantime, here are some recommended songs to get your kids singing!