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On Young Voices

I often get the treasured opportunity to teach young voice students, as young as 7 or 8. It is always a delicate matter. Let’s take as an example an 8-year-old girl who has never taken voice lessons before, and she wants to explore her vocal abilities. She has good pitch, she loves to sing, and she would love to audition for her school musical two years from now. As a voice teacher, I know that I have certain "powers", but I also feel that I have certain responsibilities. I could take that young, precious voice, and if she practices, she follows direction, and she is responsive, I could shape and turn that voice into what I want it to be. Sometimes people ask for that. Others do not. In either case, I have the knowledge, experience, and ability to lead the student towards the direction I want. But I do not, and here is why.

My philosophy about young voices: It is my responsibility to work with a young voice in such a way that I treasure and appreciate what is already there, and I try to make it more “visible”. I do not try to alter the quality of the voice. I take the existing purity and I teach the students how to bring it out more. I do not want them to force, push, or imitate. I want them to feel their own tone, realize and love the uniqueness of their tone, and then find ways to expand on that. Young voices need to be handled with care so that they can keep blossoming. The stem is always there, and we do not want to break it and put it back together. We just want it to become stronger, and greener, and to keep all the juices and colors it originally had.

Here is a good example of a young voice that has been tweaked and altered in order to fit into a certain “box”:

Here is a good example of a young voice that is free and natural, yet strong and polished:

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