Are Voice Lessons Right for Your Child?
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“Are private voice lessons the best choice for my child?”
The answer to this question is … it depends. It depends on the motive behind the inquiry. It depends on what has prompted the parent to do the research, find a teacher, and reach out. Would providing lessons for his or her child be a generous or selfish act? Who is more committed to the idea of singing lessons; the parent or the child?
Maybe the parent feels as though he or she is coming from a place a generosity. Maybe the mother wants to invest in something for her daughter. Her own regret of a lifetime spent not singing well might be prompting her to give her daughter a chance to learn how to sing. The mom hopes that investing in singing lessons will give her child a better relationship with singing. Maybe in the heart of the father the motive to enroll his daughter in voice lessons comes from his having no musical background and so he wants his child to be able to unravel the mystery of music in a way that he never did.
Or perhaps the parent’s motivation is not so generous. Is it possible that the parent simply wants her daughter in the spotlight so the world can appreciate what she loves so much about her offspring?
In my studio over the last nearly twenty-five years, I’ve heard many different reasons why parents are interested in paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for their children to learn how to sing:
So she becomes a confident public speaker
So he can sing with our church worship band
So she can get a good part in the school musical
Because his grandfather was a professional opera singer
Because she won’t stop singing around the house
Because he has anxiety and singing is the only thing that calms him down
Some of these reasons are noble. Some of them are a little questionable. But my favorite reason of all – the one I can never resist?
Because she has been asking for lessons for years!
The key to making voice lessons for your child worthwhile is the desire to take lessons. No amount of required lessons or forced practice can make up for pure desire from within the singer herself. No amount of ambition on her parents’ part can substitute for the child’s lack of drive when it comes to learning how to sing.
I love the following quote from Six-Word Lessons for Exceptional Music Lessons by Sally Palmer.
During an interview with a young child, I speak directly to the child and see if I can gauge the level of desire and interest of the child (not the parent). If I can tell that a student isn’t really interested in the piano but seems to have an interest in music, I encourage the parent to look for music opportunities other than piano lessons, and come back in a year.
What Sally writes about piano lessons in her book also applies to voice lessons. But how do you know if your child is ready for lessons? How can you predict if she wants to learn how to sing so badly that she is willing to study, practice, and use the gift of lessons wisely? It might be as simple as asking your child some specific questions.
In The Teen Girl’s Singing Guide, I help teen girls find clarity by having them search their hearts to answer a series of questions that are designed to guide them to a better understanding of how important singing is to them.
Their answers help them assess their own readiness and drive, which in turn helps them decide if taking private one-on-one voice lessons is the best option for them as individuals. And you can ask the same directed questions of your child or teen to help her gauge how ready she is for this big commitment:
Ask your child to close her eyes and look inside her heart then ask herself, “How important is singing to me?”
Ask her to write down her answer in just 3-10 words (concise, but not too limiting).
Next, have a deep and honest conversation with your child. Let her lead the discussion, but help her define which of the following 5 perspectives on singing she fits into. These categories help determine her love of singing and willingness to devote time and effort into studying and practicing singing.
Which of these 5 perspectives on singing and singing lessons does she have? “Singing is…”
“Meh, not that big of a deal.”
“One of many life skills I’d like to learn.”
“Important to me, my family, and community.”
“Really, really important to me. I’m convinced that singing will be a part of my whole life.”
“Sing or die!”
Your child’s answers to these questions will help you determine whether or not voice lessons would be a good investment now, something to consider in the near future, or a likely waste of money. If your child’s answer lies right in the middle – “Important to me, my family, and community.” – then the next questions would be:
“Do we have the time in our lives right now to add a weekly lesson, daily practice, quarterly recitals, and annual singing contests?”
“Do we have between $2,000 and $5,000 this year to budget for singing lessons (instead of investing in some other opportunity)?”
If your answer to these questions is, “Yes!” then start researching teachers and contacting them to see which would be the best fit for your family’s needs, expectations, and budget.
If you’d like more in-depth guidance about all the singing options available to kids, pick up a copy of The Teen Girl’s Singing Guide in print, e-book, or audiobook.