Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 September 2011
There are certain basic, practical things we can do with children which will enable the vast majority to sing pleasantly and tunefully in a group, and to improve individually. In the description of these ideas, the focus will be on how to convey them in a group situation – a choir, or in the classroom – within a wider context of a general understanding of children's actual musical and vocal possibilities, and the assumption that (barring exceptional physiological impediment): all children can sing, learn to sing better, and have the right to do both.
Each child, being unique, has also a unique voice, with its own special colour, and dynamic and vocal range, as with adults, although usually a lighter instrument than a fully formed adult voice, and lacking its power. As children grow, so does the strength of their voices. Many investigations of children's vocal range give a general picture of about c1–c2 at five to six years, increasing to a–g2 by nine to ten years, and further to a–c3 by eleven to twelve years. However, most studies omit any mention of head or chest register, when in fact each is available even to tiny children, as confirmed by observation of very young children's spontaneous, improvised singing, which shows that they can manifest a very high voice. Each register yields its own vocal range, and while the lower chest-voice range tends to be very limited in small children, many of whom find it difficult to reach tones below c1, the head-voice range extends in most children rather higher than indicated in conventional studies and than commonly believed. Some singing teachers differentiate between the range where children can comfortably sing a melody and where they can do singing exercises.
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