Read our guest blog on vocal health for children and teens by Natalie Hagan from TakeLessons.com
William James said, “I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing.”
Singing is a wonderful hobby that has many health benefits. It helps strengthen the immune system, improves posture, increases sleep quality, and reduces stress. Singing with others also helps boost social skills such as interpersonal communication, and it increases confidence. Plus, singing makes you happy!
The benefits of singing apply no matter what age you are, but they can be especially helpful for children and adolescents. Singing during your younger years can set you up for a lifetime of enjoyment, but it’s important to make sure you take care of your vocal health during those formative years.
Many people will say that young children should not sing at all, for fear of damaging their voices. However, any child can take the steps to learn how to sing, if they’re careful enough to sing in a manner that’s appropriate for their developing voice. Young children should focus on learning how to carry a tune, as well as proper breathing and posture. Learning how to match pitch will set them up for success in future voice lessons, where they can learn more advanced techniques. Instructors can guide them through solfege and begin teaching them proper vowel shapes so that they have good habits as they grow.
The most important aspect of vocal training for children is that they do not strain their voices by over-training. This can cause permanent damage to their developing voices. They should not try to “belt” or hit notes out of their range. Parents can also help their children by teaching them not to yell or whisper, as both of these cause unnecessary strain on the vocal cords. Both a parent’s support and a vocal instructor’s care and attention will help maintain a child’s vocal health as they develop their sound.
Teen voices can change by the day. For an instructor, this can mean switching up the parts that the vocalist sings to ensure they’re comfortable. Just as important as proper technique is ensuring that the teen singer feels socially supported as their voices change. Changing voices can lead to a squeak or voice break, which can be embarrassing. Reassuring teen singers that this is a natural part of the process will encourage them to keep on singing.
All singers need to focus on more than just which song they’re going to sing, and hitting the proper notes. Our voices are muscles that need to be exercised and trained just like an athlete’s. By the time a singer reaches his or her teens, they are more apt at being disciplined and can follow these simple guidelines on their own:
Tips for Staying in Good Vocal Shape
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise regularly and eat a well-balanced diet
- Avoid caffeine
- Pace yourself
- Avoid yelling or screaming
Always remember that your voice is unique to you, and that it is still growing. Focus on developing your own unique abilities while caring for your instrument. Maintaining your vocal health will ensure that you’ll be singing for decades to come!