I love teaching group classes! In fact, my work with child singers began in group settings with church choirs and classroom singing. I discovered early on the many benefits of children singing with peers.
I sat down recently and pondered what I had learned over the years about this kind of learning environment. There were five main benefits that surfaced, and they are a win for everyone involved: the singers, their parents, and their teachers.
Having others to sing with and learn alongside motivates young singers because they lift each other up and cheer each other on. They also get to know kids who share the same passion as they do. Many sports and dance classes are team-centered, yet most music lessons are solo-centered. And while there are choirs, orchestras, and bands for group music-making, these experiences do not focus on individuality of sound and techniques.
Group singing classes foster uniqueness and distinction among each other while still maintaining a group atmosphere. The singers don’t need to blend or conform their sound to create sameness, which is what is typically requested in a choir setting. Kids can learn as a group and cultivate their originality as a solo singer. In Addition, there is more incentive to work towards goals and a rush of energy that inspires determination for growth when working as a group. This motivating factor helps to keep singers wanting to practice on their own without so much parent nudging and keeps the teacher from spending a lot of energy trying to get kids to practice.
2. Peer inspiration
Before children use their own media devices, their only exposure to music is what they hear at home and at school. When they begin to venture out into the world and hear music outside of their home, they begin to realize the fuller spectrum of musical breadth. Hearing and learning about the musical tastes of others inspires kids to seek new ideas and understanding.
When groups mix ages, stages, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and socioeconomic status, they can all share experiences. Group singing can provide varied talents and strengths in one place while everyone supports and nurtures one other. And it is fantastic to watch older singers mentor and encourage younger singers while younger singers admire and aspire to their older counterparts!
Children can also be inspired by their own culture and the cultures of their peers. Encouraging them to explore their heritage and learn songs from native homelands is a fun way for kids to share languages and expressive singing. By sharing sounds and textures that are not familiar to others, they can inspire their peers and learn about their own history at the same time.
Additional inspirational experiences can be witnessed when peers work alongside other singers with varied disabilities. Singing alongside peers with learning and/or physical disabilities teaches empathy and humility. Teachers can easily demonstrate that no matter who you are, we all have different gifts and talents. When children are a part of a singing community, they all identify as the same thing – singers – sharing the same passion while appreciating each other’s unique gifts.
3. Time and money
As children wish to try things out to discover their strengths and passions, their family may not easily afford the time or financial resources for individual instruction in one discipline. There are numerous after-school programs offering a variety of enrichment for children. Signing up for scads of activities can yield hefty price tags for families. For a parent, the investment of private lessons can get quite expensive as they explore various activity options. And for the kids, private lessons come with a more significant responsibility of daily practice and expectations. As children age, their voices develop, and so do their desires. They begin to discover where their strengths lie, along with their passions. Singing in a group class allows them to explore and gain awareness of singing before making a higher level of commitment at a higher expense.
In addition to being an excellent introduction for parents and kids, group lessons also serve as an opportunity for teachers to work with more singers without sacrificing their schedules. Teachers can have more singers in their schedule and generate a higher financial return on their investment of time. There are only so many hours in a week that a teacher can fill, and many teachers have wait lists. Group classes are a fantastic way for teachers and interested singing families to create that connection before venturing into one-on-one lessons.
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4. A great introduction to music-making
Children might enjoy singing at home with their favorite playlists, but they may not be sure if singing for someone else is their thing. Many young singers are shy and are not ready to sing alone.
It’s also possible that a young child really wants to learn music and for various reasons, does not want to or isn’t able to purchase an instrument. There was once a time when a child beginning formal music lessons was always steered toward piano or violin. Learning music proficiency meant studying a virtuosic instrument in the tradition of Eurocentric classical music. But there is no better place to start a formal music foundation than with the instrument we were all born with: the voice! In fact, I genuinely believe that if all children cultivate their singing voices earlier in their lives, they will find more confidence in expressing themselves. This expression can be witnessed in all aspects of life, and it can undoubtedly ease the transition of pubertal voice changes much more assuredly.
Singing is proven to make you feel good and release endorphins, the brain chemical that makes you feel good. Singing naturally creates feelings of expression and encourages a person to tap into their human emotion.
Many singing techniques that are taught and explored require a sense of abandonment and lightheartedness. Singers can discover silly and sad all at the same time and make the realization that it is natural to feel a wave of emotions. There is never a voice class or voice lesson without a giggle or a frown! And the license to share and tap into these feelings is critical to the singing experience.
In addition to the health benefits that singing can achieve, kids can have fun sharing and collaborating with their peers. When these experiences are shared, it makes them even more fun and exciting for everyone!
If you haven’t already, now is the time to consider the spectacular benefits of group singing classes. And, if you have considered offering group classes but aren’t sure how to organize them or where to start, feel free to reach out and let me know how I can help!