What is the best age to start voice lessons? Is it ever too late to start? I believe that anyone can learn to sing, at any age. I began singing around the age of 5, when I joined the children’s choir at church. It was a great opportunity to start to learn music notation, rhythm, how to sing in a group, and performance preparation. A few years later I would begin to sing solo, when I would audition and eventually perform in school musicals. At around the age of 13 or 14 I began private voice lessons, and by the time I was 15, I was singing basic classical repertory.
My voice changed and shifted through the years as I grew physically and as a skilled singer. Only recently, in my early 30’s, did it begin to settle and come into its own. However, I was always a soprano, and a high one — that didn’t change– but I greatly benefited from six years of focused, technical training with one specific teacher in order to build and ground the core of my voice and finally develop the high extension.
The process, and the best age to start, is different for every singer. Depending on your musical background and age as well as if you wish to develop into a classical singer or a different style, the process of building and honing the singing voice can take anywhere from five to ten years. However long it takes, one must respect that it is a process, and it requires patience and discipline. Because the voice is organic, it will lead you where it needs to go, but you have to do the groundwork.
When an adolescent girl begins voice lessons, she needs to understand that her voice will change, possibly dramatically, as she ages through her teenage years and into her early 20’s. She may not know her own voice well yet, and I, as a voice teacher, may abstain from classifying it for a few lessons, possibly even longer. However, I will be able to assign pieces, in addition to what she wishes to sing (I do believe that a student should sing what she is drawn to, unless completely inappropriate, but that is another article…). And the breathing and vocal technique that I can start a young person with will help her to bo th open up and build her voice, from the foundation up — the same way I learned.
The same holds true for boys, although a boy’s voice changes more dramatically in adolescence. Once a boy’s voice has “dropped,” it is time to begin building and lining up that “new” voice. This is an exciting time for a young male singer, as he begins to discover just what nature has bestowed upon him!
If one is serious about music and really wants to get started, the earlier the better! Learning music is like learning a foreign language, and a young child is best equipped to learn technique and ear development. The bonus to starting music, especially singing, at an early age, is that a young person will bypass any bad habits that are easily acquired from years of performing without training.
Just a few practices that a young student can begin to learn in private voice lessons:
– Correct breathing for singing.
– The proper singing vowels.
– How to correctly open the mouth for each vowel.
– How to practice (exercises, and how to learn pieces).
– How to prepare and polish an audition.
– How to hold out notes and phrases.
– The difference between head and chest voices, and how to begin to blend the two.
And so much more.
I do not work with a 10-year old in the same way I work with a 15-year old, just as I do not work with a 50-year old in the same way I work with a 19-year old. In my lessons, singers are evaluated individually, so your vocal journey can begin with a single lesson. I’ve heard from several classical sources that the prime singing years are between the ages of 35 – 50, but with good technique and vocal health, one can sing longer. But what if you are in the older part of this age range, or even out of that age range, and you just want to start singing now? The good news is: of course you can start now, because no one can know what you are capable of, not even yourself! It’s possible that you have real beauty, power, or exciting colors in your singing voice, but you’ll never know until you give it a shot.
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