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7 Tips for Starting Singing Lessons, Voice Classes, or Choir

A choir of children sing together, standing on risers. In front of them is the ensemble director conducting.

Watching your child learn to sing is truly special. You have a front row seat as they acquire new skills, discover their favorite songs, gain confidence, and develop their own unique voice. Pretty soon your kiddo who loved belting it out in the car is sight-reading sheet music and practicing their solfege. 

This article has something for all parents looking to help their beginning singer raise their voice—whether you’re in the research stages of selecting voice classes or have signed up for choir and want to make sure to show up prepared for the first day. Dive into these seven tips for starting voice instruction on the right note.

1. Pick the Right Voice Program

The absolute most important thing you can do to ensure your child thrives as a beginning singer? Sign them up for the programming that’s appropriate for their age and experience level. While this advice might sound obvious at first, there’s more to it.  

Merit School of Music’s Voice, Guitar, & the Marlene M. Bowen Piano Program Director, Pamela Shortall, suggests thinking about it this way: “Unlike other instruments, you’re actually growing your vocal cords! You can put down a saxophone or step away from a piano, but your voice is one that you carry with you for the rest of your life.”

Your vocal cords change significantly during puberty, so it is important to wait to start private training until your body and vocal cords are ready. If you start private lessons too soon, you can risk permanent vocal damage. “As a singer, it’s better to start singing in larger groups and work towards smaller, more individual instruction as you get more serious,” she adds.  

The group format also helps beginners to gain experience in the foundational techniques they’ll need as they progress, as well as how to read music and apply basic musical concepts. Plus, these fun settings filled with friends work better for young children who very rarely have the attention capacity for more intensive private lessons and can help keep youngsters motivated and engaged with their new hobby. 

At Merit, we recommend holding off on private voice lessons until age 12 or middle school/high school age, and instead starting with group vocal study such as choir (ages 7+) or singing classes (ages 10+). If your child loves to sing but is still too young for choir, check out Early Childhood music classes, which teach the building blocks of music and are overflowing with group singing activities.

2. Find the Best Voice Teacher

Director Carling Fitzsimmons conducts the choir.

Finding the best voice teacher goes beyond credentials. Yes, a good teacher will have a music degree from a reputable university and years of experience. But the best voice teachers do more. The best teachers will have high expectations of you and want you to have high expectations of them. They are going to insist on practice. These teachers will prioritize communication, trust, and challenging their students to reach their full musical potential.  

Look for educators who help you produce the best sound possible with your voice by focusing on good pedagogy and emphasizing the development of proper habits, including posture and breathing techniques. Group voice teachers, especially in large ensembles, should also foster a sense of community, promoting social and emotional skills through programming that encourages singing together. 

When searching for your vocal teacher, contact reputable music schools and read teacher bios to ensure they align with your expectations and goals. Conduct thorough research to find a teacher who not only imparts musical knowledge but also creates a supportive and enriching learning environment for your child.

3. Be Open to Different Styles of Singing

A singer stands onstage singing at a microphone.

Do you love pop? Then try singing classical art song. Can’t get enough musical theater? See how your voice takes to jazz. Don’t limit yourself to a single genre. Experimenting with various styles of music will not only broaden your vocal abilities but also make your learning experience more enjoyable. Embrace diversity in your repertoire to discover the full potential of your voice.  

In private vocal training, suggest new songs (or ask your teacher for suggestions!) from different genres that you’d like to try. At Merit, your group class and choir teachers will come with a plan to introduce various repertoire, sometimes leaving it up to students to choose from a few song options.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

Building a strong foundation requires consistent practice. Regular practice will not only improve your technique but also enhance your overall vocal endurance. Implement warm-up exercises into your routine to prepare your vocal cords for the demands of singing. Pay attention to your breathing and posture, applying the techniques your instructor teaches you. If you want to identify areas of improvement during practice sessions, you can record them to listen for your strengths and weaknesses.

5. Always Be Prepared

Being prepared for your singing lessons, voice classes, or choir rehearsals is key to making the most of your time and contributes to your overall progress as a singer. 

Before each class, take a moment to review any material or exercises from the previous session. This helps reinforce what you’ve learned and allows you to come prepared with questions or, in the case of private lessons, areas you’d like to focus on. Ensure you have all the required materials for your class, such as sheet music, a notebook, a pencil, and water—hydration is key!

Finally, don’t forget to warm up your voice a bit before your class or lesson! Just like you need to stretch your body before going for a run or playing a sport, your voice needs to stretch and warm up too. Take five minutes before your lesson or class to do some warm-ups that your teacher has incorporated into class like humming or buzzing your lips.  Because your body is your instrument, you can even do your warmup in your car or walking down the street if need be.

6. Have Fun!

The benefits of studying music are numerous and learning to sing is a gift that will last a lifetime. But having FUN is a big part of it. Enjoying the process not only makes learning more enjoyable but also helps kids and teens stick with their vocal studies for years to come. Bring your energy to your class or lesson, choose songs you love, and sing with others. Remember, having fun is not just a side benefit—it’s an integral part of becoming a well-rounded and passionate singer. So, embrace the joy that comes with making music, and let it fuel your enthusiasm for learning and growing as a vocalist. 

A student with a solo stands in front of a choir onstage.

7. Show Your Support as a Parent

Your involvement in your child’s musical journey can profoundly influence their development and long-term love for music. Get excited about what they’re learning. Ask them to put on a playlist of the songs they’re learning during time in the car or to host a concert for the family in the living room. Offer positive feedback and celebrate small achievements along the way.  

Like any beginning musician, the frustration of not being able to hit every note can be discouraging. Remind them that progress in singing takes time and that patience and consistency will pay off.  Help your child establish a consistent practice routine. Set aside dedicated time each day for music practice and create a quiet and comfortable space where they can focus without distractions. Lastly, enjoy their performances and cheer them on at the top of your lungs!

Embarking on singing lessons, voice classes, or joining a choir is an exciting journey that offers numerous opportunities for personal and musical growth. By signing up for the right voice program, finding a great teacher, exploring different genres, practicing regularly, being prepared, remembering to have fun, and showing your support as a parent, your young singer will be well on their way to becoming a more skilled and confident singer. Enjoy the process, embrace challenges, and let your child’s passion for singing drive their musical journey.

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