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Think Your Child Is A Future Pop Star? How Beginners Learn To Sing
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  • Recently I was able to attend a three-day interactive seminar on vocal technique. It was spearheaded by The McClosky Institute of Voice, in cooperation with St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City’s Department of Ear, Nose, Throat, Head, Neck Surgery, Voice Swallowing, and Sinus Service.

    I learned about anatomy and physiology, vocal disorders, speakers’ voices, practicing repertoire, popular styles, and the life cycle of the voice. There were many eye-opening insights on how we can take care of our voices and of our children.

    There are four critical things to consider for children to have healthy voices, which be applied for all ages, including grown-ups:

    It is always wise to seek advice and insights from a professional vocal teacher who can determine the readiness of a child who may be interested in taking up voice lessons.

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    How to prepare your child now if you're interested in enrolling him in voice lessons

    Dr. Robert Sataloff, ear, nose, and throat specialist and author of Vocal Health and Pedagogy: Advanced Assessment and Treatment,  said, “Between the age of 6 and 16, the important developmental changes are not absolute range…but rather improved control, efficiency, and quality.”

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    He emphasizes that it is important to “[Structure the] training of young voices to strengthen and take advantage of the natural developmental process, rather than concentrating too heavily on exercises that are designed to stretch the extremes of range. Such exercises can be damaging, especially to fragile young voices.”

    If you want to enroll your child in voice lessons, these are general recommendations for the child before the age of 8 :

    Let your child hear good singing.

    Children learn by example. Show how a singer does not strain his voice as you listen to music together. A professional voice teacher can point out specific examples of good singing for your child that you can continue listening to at home.

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    Encourage playful singing and echoing.

    There are many age-appropriate songs for children that don’t put unnecessary strain on their throats.  Let singing be more like play than an activity that makes them feel pressured.

    Focus on basic musical skills.

    Concepts like melody, pitch, rhythm, intervals, chords, and tone can be appreciated and learned even with simple Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Ti-Do scales. A child’s ear can be trained and honed through careful listening.  In time, children can understand music as an art and are even empowered to create art themselves.

    Encourage and nurture the child’s voice.

    Gently remind them not to imitate the adult sound. Focusing on pieces that are appropriate for one’s age helps the child sing without strain.

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    The importance of posture and breathing

    At voice lessons or music workshops, kids will learn the importance of good posture. According to the book “Your Voice At Its Best” by David Blair McClosky, “Proper posture is the first answer to the proper functioning of the voice and breath control.” Imagine balancing a scoop of ice cream on top of an ice cream cone. You will need a balanced head and relaxed shoulders for good posture. 

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    “Relaxation is the first step toward achieving a truly well-coordinated voice,” McClosky emphasizes.  

    Children can be taught the skills of having a relaxed face, tongue, swallowing muscles, jaw muscles, and neck.  

    Being able to relax oneself and one’s body, particularly the face, tongue, swallowing muscles, jaw muscles, and neck, frees the child of any muscular tensions that can hinder them from singing or speaking freely.

    Kids will also learn how vital it is to develop breathing power, specifically abdominal breath. Want a sample? Try these:

    • Have the child stretch their arms over their head and feel the “tummy” move as they breathe.
    • Have them lie on their back, knees bent, with one hand on the “tummy” and feel it move as they breathe.
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