Singing lessons/music aged 11 - desperate for advice!

(7 Posts)
BCBG Tue 16-Jul-13 17:06:29

Russians, she wants straight drama. Always has. Agree about the technically more advanced, (and about the tinkly soprano, slightly blush), as she has only just started exams. StarBallBunny 's DD sounds very similar as DD can memorise almost anything if she has music with it, and play scripts seem to go straight to memory, mapped out by cues and actions. But her voice does sound very odd coming from an eleven year old!

Theas18 Tue 16-Jul-13 08:38:06

Starballbunny attaching music to anything makes it easier to learn so she could probably sing her spellings if she gave them a tune- Worth a try.

OP just let your young lady enjoy her singing. Memorising stuff is probably easier for her than reading music, but do get her to read not learn by ear/rote too much as the knock on effect of practising reading music on her ordinary work could be amazing- and he won't know she's doing it. reading words , if you are not sure your eye will bob forwards and back on a line - add to that coordination and concentration issues and you are struggling. Reading music, the melody flows and your eyes move forwards with it.

NoComet Mon 15-Jul-13 23:31:06

DD1(15) has never managed to learn an instrument, she say remembering what fingers go where, to make which note and reading the music is all too much for her dyslexic brain.

She sings beautifully, we are awaiting her grade 5 results, but hates sight reading and aurals.

So yes, I think dyslexia does get in the way, but it's annoyingly patchy. DD1 can't spell words she's seen thousands of time, but she can learn the words to her exam pieces, a pile of popular songs for a concert and her GCSE drama lines, all at the same time [confussed]

RussiansOnTheSpree Mon 15-Jul-13 23:14:39

I think that dyslexia does have sme impact on reading music. But I don't think it's catastrophic or even mildly unhelpful - I think it just means you cope in a different way. DS is dyslexic, he plays the clarinet, the sax and various members of the guitar and uke family. For the stringed instruments no difference at all from how anybody else plays or approaches playing - but that's because he is chords only, except for the bass (which has the same issues as the clarinet and sax). With his wind instruments, he has no trouble looking at music and playing it. But if you ask him to name a note on the stave, he finds that really challenging. And if you ask him to play a C or an F or whatever, he has to really think hard about that too. But his sight reading is excellent and he may have perfect pitch - if I sig a note he will play it straight away. But if I sing a note and ask him to tell me what it is, he struggles - because the names of the notes just will not stick in his head. He can't sing at all so we will never know if he does have perfect pitch or just good relative pitch. Anyway - that was a long winded way if saying dyslexia = different strategies but not inferior results.

As for the singing - many people say don't take exams at all at an early age - and there is some logic in that - but for those who do go the exam route grade 2 at 11 isn't particularly forward. So, maybe the other girls are more advanced technically than your DD - doesn't make them better, of course, but it might explain what you see as more attention. Also, some people prefer bluesy voices, some people prefer gospel voices, some people prefer classical voices - if the people calling the shots at your school prefer tinkly soprano voices the that might be another reason for the other girls getting more attention. Is your DD interested in musical theatre or straight drama?

BCBG Mon 15-Jul-13 22:13:13

Thanks, FriendlyLadybird.... I must say I think 11 is young too. I understand about the voice variance - DS has gone from a chorister to a bass baritone and is only now aged 19 starting work on what is allegedly an operatic range. But she does have a very distinctive range for a girl of her age and it appears to come completely naturally to her to sing like she does. The reading music is what seems to be holding her back at school but she says she has trouble reading the lyrics, not so much the music - hence the question about dyslexia. Also, we have explained to her that drama school post degree is a more usual route, and as much as we can about the pitfalls of it as a subject, but she is quite focused. Academically she manages well at the moment with a laptop and scribe, but it remains to be seen how well she can do in the end.

FriendlyLadybird Mon 15-Jul-13 21:55:15

In answer to your question -- I don't think so.

Remember that singing is a physical activity, and actually 11 is jolly young to be having lessons and doing exams. I didn't have a singing lesson until I was 18, and my voice didn't properly mature until about 10 years after that.

The key thing is, whatever type of singing she does, she must not force her voice. She must sing 'on the breath' ALL the time, and not use her throat to try to sing more loudly.

She may discover, as she gets older, that she has a totally different sort of voice from what you imagine. To go back to me again (egotistical, moi?) I've got a low pitched speaking voice which I can project very loudly indeed. Imagine my surprise (and disappointment) when I discovered that my singing voice was a 'light, silvery soprano. A liede voice, dear -- not operatic.'

As for the drama -- there's plenty of time for that, too. I was at university with some now very well known actors who weren't studying drama at all. They went on to drama school after their degrees.

BCBG Mon 15-Jul-13 19:55:16

Hi all you lovely Mumsnetters, apologies that this is long but don't want to drip feed.... - I remember from another thread that there are quite a few singers/singing coaches/music teachers on MN, and I could really use some advice, please. (Desperately trying NOT to come over as pushy parent grin).... OK, DD (11) has singing lessons at her small private school. She is moderately/severely dyslexic (has no 'phonic ear', has auditory processing difficulties and short term memory problems) and moderate/severe dyspraxia (difficulty concentrating). She is also extremely tall (164 cm) and growing fast. The voice that is emerging seems deep and powerful. She loves singing. She also really really wants to study drama and we are looking at Tring for her next school. She doesn't want to be a musical theatre star, just a dramatic actor. She has just taken Grade 2 singing so obviously would have a long way to go if Grades are the thing. Her big brother is Grade 8 and off to Cambridge with a choral award as well, so I have some experience. My problem is that she is not exactly thriving at her school musically....I am not looking for her to be the 'star', just that a lot of attention is given to three girls who sing duets etc really nicely together, and DD gets overlooked a lot, even though they are all in the school choir and work together most of the time. A clue to the problem may be that in the Year Play, she had a part with a number of solos that were transposed down for her, and to be honest when she came on stage she sounded like Ella Fitzgerald, but she couldn't sustain it and went croaky. (She has no nerves, btw). Now in her report the music master has written " Her ability to read music lags behind her vocal ability somewhat at present and her lower voice is still more developed than her 'head voice' ." I want to ask him if her dyslexia is affecting her progress, and if so, if there are ways to overcome that, and I also want to be sure that she is not being required to sing like a choral voice when her natural voice is heading towards a mezzo-soprano range, given her likely eventual height. But I don't know what questions I should be asking...I just feel that she is proving hard to teach and so she is getting less and less attention - and it matters because she really really wants to study drama and i think it is generally accepted by those who know her that, like many dyslexics, drama is her real strength. I guess what I am asking is - does the dyslexia impede musical growth?

Thanks if you bothered to stay with the rambling - I appreciate it.

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