If you’re considering taking your first steps in the music industry, you may wonder when’s the best time to begin. Perhaps you’re trying to decide whether to start some vocal training, or whether to leave it for a few years? What is the best age to learn to sing?
So what is a good age to learn singing? Generally, if you plan on becoming a professional artist, the sooner the better. But you can get going at more or less any stage and age, something many singers old and young have proven through successful careers.
Read on to identify if it’s time for you to think about trying vocal training, or to see if this might be the perfect time to enrol your child in music classes.
What is the best age to learn singing?
Singing is one of the most natural things in the world. Human beings have been singing and making music since time began, from as soon as they could make a sound. However, the formal act of learning to sing is a slightly different matter. And while music sessions are encouraged even before birth, more formatted lessons will not usually begin until the age of six or seven. Choristers, for example, audition and begin their training in year two. However, not every child is ready for lessons at this age. High school is often when kids develop a keener interest in taking hobbies further and having more serious lessons.
What age does a child start to sing?
Children start singing at different ages and it may even come before speaking, especially where a child has been exposed to music in the prenatal phase, or as a baby. If your child shows a particular desire to sing as a toddler, it’s well worth considering a musical playgroup. Singing at an early age is excellent developmentally – improving motor skills – and socially. Of course, it wouldn’t be suitable to enrol a very young child in intense vocal training. But a good teacher will work at their level, taking chronological and developmental age into account when choosing exercises and songs.
The age a child starts singing may also be linked to their peers’ in. If they’re mixing with other kids who love to sing or make up songs, then the chances are they’ll pick up an interest in it too. It’s good to encourage this and even sing to your child yourself, asking them to join in. Singing is a super activity for parent-child bonding.
Can you learn to sing at any age?
Yes, you can certainly learn to sing at any age! If you’re 6 or 60, you’re good to go! Singing teachers work with those of all ages – although some will choose to specialise in adult or child pupils. There are those who have an existing natural aptitude for singing that may put them slightly ahead. While others have to work hard at it and see a steep learning curve, resulting in a transformation.
Taking one to one voice lessons is the usual route for those wishing to develop their voice. But there are other methods that can work very well and cost little or even nothing at all. So how else might you go about learning to sing?
- Joining a choir is a super sociable way to get some group singing training. You’ll likely make friends and at most will only have to pay a small subscription. Join a good choir and you may even make a little extra cash from gigs.
- YouTube is a fantastic source of online tutoring, instruction and advice. You’ll need to be self-motivated and driven enough to commit to regular sessions by yourself though. But it won’t cost a penny and you can learn from some of the world’s most respected teachers.
- Online remote lessons give the benefit of one to one sessions, however, they’re usually cheaper than face to face ones. This is a great solution too for those who live in a rural area where there may not be a great selection of local vocal coaches. Or those who frequently move location – such as older teens enjoying some time travelling overseas on a gap year.
Singers who learned to sing late
There are a number of famous vocalists who didn’t make it big or even start their musical career until later in life. Although most were already singing, even if purely on an amateur basis, well before this. Here are some names you’ll recognise along with the ages at which they landed their big breaks.
- Sheryl Crow at age 31
- Bill Withers at age 32
- Andrea Bocelli at age 41
- Jay-Z at age 28
- Susan Boyle at age 47
- Debbie Harry at age 33
- Seasick Steve at age 65
These days, the advent of major talent contests, streaming sites and YouTube make it possible for artists to achieve almost overnight success without the help of label backing. This gives you an even better chance of forging a career at any age.
The best age to start a singing career
Deciding when to embark on a singing career may be a very different decision to working out when to start lessons. You’ll probably need to have lessons for some time before putting yourself out there. Then you’ll need to work out if you’re emotionally and mentally ready for everything the music industry brings with it. Becoming a singer often involves a lot of hard work, pressure, disappointments and criticism on social media. Preparing mentally is just as important as preparing your voice and having great songs.
So there isn’t a set age that’s best to start a singing career, as it really depends on the individual. For some, they are in their vocal prime before they go through puberty, resulting in successful careers in childhood. If this is you and you have a stunning youthful voice, you may want to consider entering a competition, recording a demo or approaching talent agents.
Can I start singing at 13?
At 13 you’re likely to be going through some significant vocal changes. This is all part of puberty and nothing to worry about. You can definitely start singing at this age but may have to be gentle while training, especially if you’re a boy and are experienced voice break. A singing teacher will be able to guide you through this period. And you can certainly start your singing career at this age. The Latin American star Shakira embarked on her singing journey aged 13
Singing lessons – voice lessons for children
If your child shows interest in learning to sing, the first step is to source a suitable teacher. Be sure to choose someone who is experienced in working with beginners, and children. Here are some ways you can find a trustworthy vocal coach.
- Ask friends for recommendations
- Search websites specialising in tutoring
- Check the website of your local recording studio – they often have in-house teachers
- See if your child school offers extracurricular music lessons
You’ll also need to decide where you want the lessons to take place. Some teachers will come to your home, others will teach in their own facility and there are pros and cons of each, depending on your circumstances. If you’d rather they were held in a mutual public space, lessons in a recording studio or music school may be the best answer.
Choosing someone your child will relate to and have a rapport with is very important. Some teachers are able to bond with almost any individual, with others it’s about finding the right match. Ask if you can have a (paid) trial session to see how they get on.
The best age to start piano lessons
A natural progression to learning to sing may well be learning to play an instrument. If you or your child is considering becoming a professional singer of any type, the ability to self accompany will be a valuable skill. It’s also an excellent tool for songwriting.
Children can begin to learn the piano from the age of four, although some children won’t be in the right place for it till they’re nearer to six years of age. A good rule of thumb is that they’re ready for keys once they are able to tie their own shoelaces. At this stage, everything from playing simple songs to improvisation can be taught comfortably. Indeed children often pick it up far more easily than adults. Elton John famously began teaching himself to play from the age of three to seven, after which he took lessons. Prince taught himself to play at age 7, before learning the guitar at 13 and then the drums at 14.
Piano lessons will also improve their dexterity, rhythm and later down the line, mathematical ability, as reading music will become part and parcel of the playing process.
As with singing lessons, it’s important to find a teacher your child will like and vice versa! Learning to play an instrument is hard work, especially at first. To keep them motivated the lessons will need to have an element of fun, with a style of teaching that suits their personality.
The best age to start guitar lessons
As with singing and in many cases piano, the ideal age to get started on the guitar is six. But again, you may begin at any age. The main factor with this particular instrument is the size and strength of the hands. So a very slight seven-year-old may not be ready, whereas a five-year-old who’s bigger for their age won’t have a problem.
An important consideration here is getting the correct size guitar for them. The neck, or fretboard, of a standard guitar usually around two feet in length – too large for many little ones. However, you can buy smaller 1/2 or 3/4 size guitars designed for those with smaller bodies and shorter arms. Those under eight will likely need a half size, eight to twelve-year-olds will do well with a 3/4 size, while twelve and over usually use a full/adult sized instrument. Guitars are especially popular with teens seeking to follow in the footsteps of singer-songwriters like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. Kurt Cobain took up this instrument to become a more rounded musician, despite an already successful career writing and singing.
So in summary, when is the prime time to get started? Six years onwards our recommendation, but it can depend on the individual. Remember it’s never too late, or too early to learn to sing, but you should never push a child if they really don’t enjoy doing it. If you or your child is asking ‘what is the best age to learn singing’, that in itself is a good indicator that you or they are ready. It’s far more about desire and motivation than about how old you are. And it’s well worth taking up an instrument at the same time, to complement your singing journey.
- Can I start singing at 18?
Once you’re 18 years old, your voice should have settled into its adult sound. This means you won’t have to sing through the vocal changes of puberty. You can begin at any age of course, but this is as good a time to start as any. So if you’re 18 and want to start a career in music, don’t delay, begin today!
- How do you know if your child can sing?
Parents often think their child is talented, but this isn’t always the case. Equally, some parents prevent their child from participating in performing arts for fear of failure. The best way to find out whether they have a talent for singing is to ask a professional singer or teacher to listen to them.
- At what age is your singing voice fully developed?
Your voice will continue to change throughout your life, but your adult voice should have emerged by the time you’re 16 – for many, this might be earlier. You may experience vocal changes when you’re sick, for women during pregnancy, or when you reach late middle age.
What age did you start learning to sing? Would you rather have started earlier than you did? Perhaps you began a music career at an early age.