Originally, I had this as “Is your child ready to sing?” but then my business mentor, the great and powerful Michelle Markwardt Deveaux (although she’s more authentic than the Wizard of Oz), pointed out that all children are ready to sing. Whether they’re ready for lessons is another story.
I don’t usually teach students under 11. This is not because I don’t think they’re old enough – it’s just a personal choice. I prefer working on a regular basis with students 11 and up. But I’ve decided, since a lot of my regular students are on vacation this week and the beginning of next, that I have the time to do some mini-lessons and evaluations for kids who might want to start taking lessons in the next year or so.
So what determines being “ready?” What will I be looking for when I work with kids?
- I’m going to look for ability to match pitch. Do they hear the pitch? Can they match pitch? Can they sustain the pitch?
- What’s their range like? Can they sing high? Can they sing low? How do they move between the two?
- Do they have a sense of pulse? Can they keep a beat? Even if they can’t necessarily read rhythms, can they feel a basic sense of time?
- Are they musical? This could involve reading music or playing an instrument, or it could just be an innate ability to feel the music.
- What’s the tone like? Is it breathy? Is it pressed or pushed? Is it nasal?
- Do they want to be there? Are they willing to try different things?
As far as my evaluation, the only thing that would make me say, “No, your child is not ready to take voice lessons” is if the answer to #6 is “No.” (And I probably wouldn’t say it quite that way.) But if they don’t want to be there, I can jump up and down and spit nickels (I had a middle school teacher who used to say that) and it won’t make any difference.
Of course, sometimes #6 might be impacted by shyness, but I can usually tell the difference between that and complete boredom.
If the answer to #3 is “no,” that may be also a hard thing to overcome, but it can be overcome.
How will this evaluation go? What will be involved?
- 30 minute lesson, to which the student brings a song they already know (musical theater is preferred, but I’ll be happy with other kinds of age-appropriate music).
- 10-15 minutes spent on exploring the voice through exercises
- 15-20 minutes spent on singing the song and working through problem areas, building on things that go well.
- Within 48 hours of the lesson, I will write up an evaluation addressing #s 1-6 above and send it to the parent.
- If I don’t have any room in my regular schedule this fall (and I’m pretty close to full), I will be happy to add the student to my wait list for when we’re both ready to go.
- I will keep in touch to let them know of any upcoming performances my students are doing, both in the studio and outside the studio, and invite them to participate if I have any small group classes or events in which they might be interested.
So that’s it! If you’re interested or know someone who is, please feel free to go ahead and check out the website at www.mezzoid.com for more info about me or take the plunge and sign up for your evaluation here.
Right now, I’m only doing this through August 13. If I feel that there’s a need for it, perhaps it’ll continue into the fall semester. We shall see!