A question appeared in my inbox that I thought should really be shared with everyone. It is a question I am asked at least once a week. "At what age can my child begin voice lessons?" This really is a hard question to answer and each teacher will give you a different answer. Many teachers prefer not to work with a child until his or her voice has developed to a certain level of maturity. Others may not want to work with children under 10 or work with children at all. This may be a personal preference or the teachers may not feel that their skill set is best matched with a child. Either way, there is nothing wrong with this. I choose to teach singers of all ages, regardless of vocal maturity. The question for me is whether or not they can handle a 30 minute lesson. Many children under the age of 5 are not capable of handling a 30 minute voice lesson, even if they are capable of handling a 30 minute piano or violin lesson. It's simply because I don't have a toy (instrument) to hand them that they can play with. While I do use many tools, exercise balls, plastic bands, etc. during my lessons, this generally isn't enough to hold a 3 year olds attention for more than 15 minutes. So if you're wondering how old your child should be before they start studying with me, ask yourself how long their attention span may be. If they can handle 30 minutes, let's get started!
Now to back up. Why do I teach children who have not reached vocal maturity? There are several reasons. One, there is not a set age that a person reaches vocal maturity (and voices change all the time as they age). Two, no one is too young to learn about and enjoy music. While my 5 year old student may not be ready to handle the challenging vocal demands of Puccini, he certainly can learn to read music. Let us not forget that the voice is an instrument and during instrumental lessons, the student is not playing his or her instrument throughout the entire duration of the lesson. The student is also learning how to read music, music theory, how the instrument works, some musical history, etc. These are also essential lessons to studying the voice. I always include musicianship skills (sight reading, ear training, music theory, etc) in my voice lessons. We also do a lot of dancing, running around, and imagination exercises to add to each lesson. I truly believe that if the student can sing the ABC's and are able to do some reading, than they are able to begin music lessons. And remember, you are also never too OLD to take voice lessons!!!!
I hope this helps to answer your question. Please keep those questions coming!