Singing can be as formal or as informal as you like. Solo, groups, shows or recordings, singing is an art that anyone can enjoy.

What is Singing?

Singing is quite simply producing musical sounds with the voice.

Nearly anyone who can speak can sing, since in many respects singing is merely sustained speech. It can be informal and just for pleasure, or it can be very formal, such as singing done professionally at a performance or in a recording studio.

Singing at a professional level usually requires a great deal of regular practice and instruction. The best singers will have instruction and training from coaches throughout their career.

Singing is often done in a group, such as a choir and may be accompanied by an orchestra or band. Group singing with no musical accompaniment is called A Capella.

Many young singers enjoy the pop or rock idioms and aspire to join a band.

New Zealand has a strong singing culture and most centres throughout the country provide opportunities for singers through choirs, bands, stage and theatre.

Where do you learn Singing?

The best method is through a private singing teacher.

Most teachers are well qualified, having completed formal examinations such as Trinity Guildhall or the Royal School of Music. Some have studied further at vocal or music academies, perhaps overseas. Many used to, or still do, perform on stage and theatre.

Such experience is wonderful for your child, as the tutor can provide practical performance advice as well as technical expertise.

When you first approach a singing teacher regarding tutoring your child, many will insist on an initial ‘assessment session’. This is usually 30 minutes in duration and generally parents are recommended to accompany the child. The purpose of this session is for the teacher to assess the young singer’s musical ability and singing potential. It’s also an opportunity for teacher, singer and parent to get a ‘feel’ for each other before any further commitment takes place.

What age can your child start Singing?

With singing, you must be careful not to push a young voice too early in case the child strains it. Generally, singing teachers won’t start a pupil under the age of eight to ten.

How do you progress over time?

Most singing teachers will strongly recommend the student undertakes formal study and examination through either Trinity Guildhall or the Royal School of Music (ABRSM). The examination process covers eight grades, then further study of diplomas and letters.

The teacher may also encourage theory study, again using one of the above examination institutes. Theory study involves written examinations covering:

  • reading and writing of music notation,
  • the overall patterns of how music works,
  • creative exercises leading to composition,
  • song writing and arranging music.

Generally you would need to approach a piano teacher for such additional study.

Depending on the teacher and his or her philosophy, they may be happy to also teach your child a ‘pop’ or ‘rock’ style of music or may insist on retaining a classical format.

Many budding singers are enthused by a popular singer and want to follow in their idol’s footsteps immediately!

After completing some formal training, a teacher may suggest switching to another tutor, better versed in the pop or rock idiom. The pupil may simply decide to pursue their own direction.

But that’s a long way off. Several years of training are required before such decisions would be considered. In the initial stages, most children will start off learning children’s songs!

While a formal approach to singing may seem daunting initially to both pupil and parent, it simply reflects a goal setting process and would be positively encouraged and recommended by most teachers.

Learning to sing involves more than simply singing in tune. Over time your child will learn concepts such as tone, diction, presentation, communication and self confidence.

Many young singers move on to semi-professional or professional careers in popular and classical music, theatre and stage. The New Zealand pop charts frequently include local bands and singers. Many New Zealand singers grace the international opera stages.

What equipment do you need for Singing?

Other than vocal chords, the only equipment required is a cassette tape for use during lessons, where the lessons are recorded for later reference and practice. The main ‘equipment’ is heaps of enthusiasm, as well as a love of music.

Obviously the student should also be actively encouraged to listen to music at home – usually the family stereo system will be adequate for this purpose.

How much does Singing cost?

If the teacher requires an initial assessment session, this can range from $20 – $35.

Charges are generally on a per term basis rather than per lesson. Charges per term can vary from $220 – $320. Many teachers will add a small additional charge to cover their photocopying and similar costs. They should advise you of this in advance.

How much time does Singing take to learn?

Lesson range from 30 minutes to one hour. However, beginner’s lessons are usually 30 minutes in duration.

Teachers most always tutor on a per term basis, coinciding with the school terms. Lessons won’t take place during holiday periods.

Most teachers will take a pupil during the term, not insisting a student wait until the start of a new term.

Private practice at home is essential, in short bursts initially then increasing in duration. Daily practice of 30 – 60 minutes is a good target.

Singing Tips
  • You do not have to be a great singer to enjoy it. Think back to your childhood – were you told that you could not sing? How did it affect your confidence? Always try to encourage your child.
  • They should not compare themselves to other singers; everyone’s voice is different Self-confidence and determination to succeed will help
  • Practice can make all the difference
  • Encourage them to take good care of their voice, eat a healthy diet and take exercise
  • Learning another instrument can complement singing lessons
  • Find out if there is a choir or vocal group for children at your child’s school or in your local area. Local libraries or music shops should have details. Your child’s teacher may have his or her own vocal group made up of their students.

Great Singing Websites

www.vocalist.org.uk

An excellent website for singers of all abilities, with lots of useful information, free on-line singing tips, articles and advice for getting into the music industry.

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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