July 10 – September 11, 2013. $200 for 10 weeks, or $25 drop-in. You don't need to be able to read music! Wednesday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m.

June 5, 2013

How young is too young?

I’ve had a two or three emails lately from parents looking for private singing lessons for a 5 or 6 year old. The child loves to sing and would like to get better at it. In America, when we think about getting better at something, we think about taking lessons, getting a tutor, hiring an expert, bringing in a consultant. 

That’s not a wholly bad strategy, and private lessons are rarely the best idea for a 5 to 10-year-old.

We mostly get better at singing by singing with people who are good at singing. We pick up on their good habits, we imitate their sound, we find new and more comfortable ways to hold ourselves, we learn by imitation. This is easier when the people we’re imitating already sort of sound like we do, and nobody sounds like elementary school kids, except elementary school kids. 

We also get better at singing when it’s a relationship-building activity, when we’re with people we already sort of understand and/or like. We can relax and have fun. We can hear that it matters that we’re there. We can feel at home in community. Singing is so much easier when we’re happy to be right here, now.

Would that every family could sing together in a way that felt good! And thank goodness for children’s choruses. With caring and competent direction, kids can learn to sing well, and become amazing musicians, well before middle school. 

None of this is to say that lessons for young kids are never a good idea, after all, I teach them. When to try private lessons for a young child is a good question, to be answered soon! 

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