young students

I am odd amongst my local voice teachers in that I DO accept extremely young voice students for private lessons.  My studio policy is a minimum of 10-years old and MUST be self-motivated, but I will take (and currently have in my studio) a highly-focused 9-year old.  The first question I ask a parent (usually a mother) who says that she wants her young child to have voice lessons is “Do THEY want the lessons?”

Even so, the way that I teach these students is different from the way I teach my “older” students (14-years old & up), largely because of how their brain functions.  The analytical skills and the ability to dissociate yourself from your sound are not present in the pre-pubescent brain.  My teaching style is generally VERY technically based.  I strongly believe that my students need to know exactly why we’re doing certain exercises: how the exercise is affecting the voice, what physical action is occurring in the larynx, what the result “should” be. [···]

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Very young children sometimes have a difficult time learning how to read music. Their attention is diverted from the sound the instrument makes (and the physical act of making that sound), to trying to read symbolic representations of those sounds from a sheet of paper. Some students start spending a great deal of time “in their head” trying to process the notation.   They may stop listening to the sounds they create due to the internal chatter of that processing.

I’ve found that teaching reading can be made more fun by using selected software programs. This allows the student to drill note reading away from their instrument. The student can practice note reading with fun drills that they look forward to.  After drilling for 10 or 15 minutes with the software, the student can move on to practicing reading with their instrument.

One program I use was introduced to me by one of my students. “Eek! Shark” (makingmusicfun.net) is a fantastic web-based program for teaching very young students. However, I have found that many “young at heart” teenagers really enjoy using “Eek! Shark” as well.

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