Learning Pitch for Kids
Our voice is the most important musical instrument we have, and it is how we first learn pitch. Pitch is also one of the hardest things for a young child to master, but through encouragement and an understanding of a pre-schooler’s limitations you can encourage them to embrace singing.
Singing is a joyous experience, and is commonly one of the strongest desires of adults to do better. Many adults believe that they are terrible singers, or that they “can’t hold a note in a bucket”. While this certainly can be the case, more often than not, it is simply untrue. More sadly, musical researchers have found that this belief is often a result of being told so by the people around us when we are very young.
Pre-schoolers have a very limited ability to sing. Their vocal chords are unable to stretch to the level that they can when we’re older, or simply haven’t yet had the time to mature. Because of this, a child’s singing range is limited to about 5 notes. (Technically it’s usually between C3 (middle C) and G3 - 5 notes higher).
This range is one of the reasons that children respond well to simple songs like nursery rhymes. They are in usually in their singing range and they can embrace an involvement with the song. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is probably the most popular song on Earth for a child and it has six notes in it. It is perfectly positioned within a child’s natural range.
Of course, we shouldn’t limit exposure to only 5 note songs. Songs that stretch slightly further in each direction encourage a child’s voice to stretch in those directions and help increase their range over time.
Through an understanding of our child’s physical limitations and gentle encouragement when they manage to sing in tune, we can foster a love of singing for a lifetime.
- Try to identify your child’s range when singing along with songs. They should be able to sing some notes perfectly in tune, while others will be beyond them at this stage.
- Once you identify this range, try to sing nursery rhymes or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with them within this range only. Over time, you can start slightly higher to encourage their voice to stretch for the higher notes.
- When your child does manage to identify a note the same as you, and sing it the same, encourage them with praise to reassure them. This will help them identify when they are singing correctly in tune.
What other ways have you found to foster a love of singing in your child? Let me know!
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