As of January I will be up to 30 students, assuming everyone who has committed follows through with that commitment, and next week I am doing a trial voice lesson for a 7-year-old. I am used to working with older elementary and middle school voice students, but I am rather apprehensive about teaching such a young child. In looking for materials and recommendations on music to learn with this student (beyond internet printouts) I consulted Joan Frey Boytim’s book The Private Voice Studio Handbook, which is an essential guide for any voice teacher. She gave some suggestions for music and teaching young children, and recommends focusing on the basics:
“My personal reaction to teaching singing to children is positive if one instills rhythmic concepts, musical phrasing, music reading facility, ear training, resonance, and singing without vocal tension. In other words, we can teach a tremendous amount of “music fundamentals” at this age under the title of voice lessons. At the same time, many of these same concepts can be learned through piano or other instrumental lessons. If you have a very interested child who is ready for voice instruction, however, what must be taught is clear diction, storytelling through song, and singing with freedom in front of an audience.” (99)
I would agree with her statement, and add that all of my voice students are also taking piano or another instrument, either with me, or with another instructor. I feel that teaching the reading skills that are necessary for piano greatly improves a student’s ability to read the music vocally.
In my search for books to work with this child, here are some that I have come across that seem decent.
I ordered the Reader’s Digest book for use with this student, and if she stays I may suggest that her mother purchase the Singing Made Easy book. That particular book includes a CD (to help memorize and to use as a “performance” track), teaching points for each song, coloring sheets, piano sheet music, and tips on diction and phrasing, etc. It looks like a great book. Marcia McCarry also offers variations of this method for Christmas Carols and a book on Self-Esteem.
Other Books suggested by Mrs. Boytim include (but are not limited to):
Folk Songs for Solo Singers – Jay Althouse (I use this)
Big-Note Favorite Children’s Songs – arr. Bill Boyd
Disney Classics – Easy Piano – arr. Dan Fox
The Good Ship Lollipop and Other Fun Songs – Alfred Publishing Co.
Animal Songs – Richard Carlin
Ready to Sing Folksongs – arr. Jay Althouse
Solo Songs for Young Voices – Audrey Snyder
Songbook Series – from the Royal Conservatory of Music Vol. 1-3 (hard to find!)
36 Solos For Young Singers – Boytim. Good songs, but you might want simpler ones.
Christmas Solos for Kids – Hal Leonard
Church Solos for Kids – Hal Leonard (and other Hal Leonard books)
Sesame Street Songbook, Vol. 1 and 2 – arr. Denes Agay
Songs America Sings – arr. Strecher, Horowitz, Gordon
Songs of America – arr. Dan Fox