If your kid enjoys singing songs to familiar people, such as family and friends, you might like to encourage her to sing on stage in front of an audience that includes strangers, too. It's likely that your little one will feel thrilled at the prospect of her debut stage performance. However, she could also feel apprehensive, too. Regular, enjoyable practice sessions will help boost her confidence and reduce the risk of stage fright.
Ask your kid to choose her favorite song from a selection of about four songs that she can sing with ease. Suggest songs that are appropriate to your child's age and level of understanding. Chosen songs should also have easy-to-pronounce lyrics and a range of notes that are within your child's vocal range. The vocal range of children younger than 4 years extends only to about five or six notes. If appropriate, consider the venue and occasion of your kid's stage-singing debut, too. If your child would like to sing on stage as part of a church service, suggest simple, age-appropriate songs that represent her faith.
Find a starting note for your child's chosen song that enables her to sing the song confidently and comfortably. If possible, use a pitched instrument, such as a piano or a guitar, to find a comfortable starting note, and play the note just before she starts to sing. With small children, it's best to use a starting note only as a gentle guide. If your little one starts the song from a different note or begins singing in a different key, let her complete the song without interruption to avoid over-correction which could begin to shake her confidence.
Sing the chosen song with your child regularly throughout the day to help her pronounce the lyrics correctly and learn to sing the melody in tune and at an appropriate tempo. Young children learn songs by ear and by rote singing. Sing together as you perform everyday routines and tasks, such as tidying up, sorting laundry items or preparing meals and snacks. You can help prevent stage fright by avoiding an attitude that is too perfectionist, advises Janet Esposito, author of "Getting Over Stage Fright." Stay relaxed about the learning process, smile and offer gentle correction if she forgets the song lyrics or sings the verses in an incorrect order.
Take your child to visit the venue where she is going to perform on stage before the day of the performance. If possible, watch her practice her song on the stage and give her positive feedback at the end of the song. If necessary, offer constructive criticism too, such as "remember to smile your lovely smile when you sing!" but keep your tone light and upbeat so that she doesn't become disheartened.
Encourage your child to practice her song by singing it to her favorite toy, such as a beloved teddy bear. On the day of the performance, tell your child that her teddy is going to sit in the audience with you. Ease any pre-performance nerves by reminding your little one that when she is on stage, her teddy will be waiting to clap and cheer at the end of the song!
- National Council for Curriculum and Assessment: Performing: Song Singing
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Conquering Stage Fright
- Getting Over Stage Fright; Janet Esposito; 2009
- Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images