Working with individual age categories

I divide the training of children into three age categories:

 

Children between 3-5 years
Children between 5-7 (8) years
Children between 7 (8) years and their voice change period

 

(Even though I talk about training children in singing from the age of three, it does not mean that they or you should "keep quiet" before that. If you carefully read the reasons why so few children sing today, you must have understood that the main problem is that very few parents sing to their children in early childhood, and therefore I strongly encouraged you to start from the babyhood.)

 

Note:
The boundaries between the three categories are not strictly defined. The child's mental development and capabilities will always indicate what is most suitable.

 

Children from the age of three would clearly not be capable of working in the strict sense of the word. The principal task for this age category is rather a preparatory one. You want to make the kids discover a feeling for tone and rhythm, and further develop their natural need for active singing. The key motto for this age group is sing, sing, and sing, possibly combining it with clapping or dancing. Although you can by no means expect the kids to show any significant progress at this age, you should realise that you are working for the future. You are actively helping to develop certain brain areas and neural synapses in the areas connected to music, in other words, creating a sufficient number of cerebral junctions for music enabling future music development.
Imagine for a moment that a child's brain is like a computer, where you are setting the capability for future work. If the brain does not manage to create enough of these brain connections in early childhood, the relevant brain centre will close up creating a limit or threshold which the children will not be able to surpass later, no matter how diligent they are.
Another task for this development stage is to make sure that children do not adopt bad breathing and singing habits. A particularly bad habit is shallow breathing, which is easily recognised by the typically raised shoulders.
A useful thing is practicing the child's memory. Teach the child as many nursery rhymes as you can, followed later by simple sing-along songs. Keep in mind, though, that you should choose an appropriate key so that the child can join you in singing.
Obviously the children will usually sing only small parts of the song at the beginning, but with repetition their singing attempts will get better.

 

Note:
If a child shows good cooperation, I would recommend to incorporate some of the exercises from the higher category, even at this young age.
Roughly from the age of five, children can gently be taught basic singing technique skills.

 

Far better results can be achieved through voice and movement games since for children this method is much more comprehensive and interesting than classical vocal exercises. During games children learn to easily control their bodies and through this the principles of a freely formed voice. The children thus gradually obtain the basic skills needed for quality vocal work, for instance a correct singing posture or a correct way of breathing. The form of work through movement games is suitable for individual lessons as well as for smaller groups of children.
Between the age of six and seven (or somewhat later in some cases - depending on the child's mental and physical maturity), a child is entirely capable of consciously perceiving and imitating singing sensations. In this period we may begin systematic instruction, including the requirement of a correct singing form and the sensory connection between the resonance form and the diaphragm.

 

Important notice:
For an easier orientation when picking out exercises for a specific age category, each exercise is marked by a square. A red square signifies that the exercise is for younger children, a blue square that it is for older children.
If there is only one square, it means that the exercise is only for that respective category, if there are both squares next to the exercise, you may perform it with both age categories.