How to Tell If Your Child Has a Good Singing Voice

how to tell if your child is good at singing

In my 12+ years of teaching elementary music and working with young kids, I’m always asked by parents if their kids are good at singing or if they have a high level of singing talent. 

It’s not a question I love being asked. After all, I don’t think skill and talent should affect someone’s enjoyment of singing (especially at such a young age).

But if you’re adamant about determining your child’s level of skill, I decided to offer these suggestions for how to tell if your child has a good singing voice. 

Good singing in children is determined by a number of important features, including: 

  • They visibly enjoy singing
  • Their voices move up and down easily to match the pitch
  • When they sing, they fit in the beat and rhythm of the song
  • Their voices have a light quality (depending on age)
  • The child can alter the dynamic/volume of their voice without sacrificing the tone quality

If this makes little sense to you, don’t worry! I’ll offer some more details on these in the rest of the article. 

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Signs Your Child Is A Good Singer

Here is my quick breakdown of each sign and what to look for. 

Please keep in mind that every child can and should sing. 

Even if they don’t have all of these areas locked in (and they probably won’t because even the pros work on this stuff, too), they can improve with lessons and music classes. 

And even if they never become a professional singer, that’s OK. Music is for all of us, and we should all enjoy it! 

Warning! Don’t even consider measuring their singing skill until they are 6-7 years of age. It’s here they are usually out of their “toddler” voice. 

No, you can’t truly measure musical singing skills at 9 months of age, despite what some say. 

Enjoys Singing

The first big sign of a good singer is that they love it. 

This is especially true when they’re kids or young people. 

If your child sees singing as a chore, then they won’t be a good singer no matter what. 

Even if they have a large level of talent, it won’t be good for them to receive further training. 

There are stories abound of children who have talent whose parents force them into singing more. 

In the end, they end up giving it up for the most part (if not forever). 

While this quality isn’t specifically about the singing voice, it’s the one I want you to consider first. 

They have to love it in order to be good at it; otherwise, it’s just work! 

After all, to get better, they’ll have to spend hours, not minutes per day, practicing. 

Change And Match Pitch

For more traditional cues of singing talent, the biggest one most people recognize is the ability to sing higher or lower and match pitch. 

When someone sings out of tune, they don’t match the correct notes exactly, and this is what sounds sour to our ears. 

If you watch a lot of singing competition shows, this is what they call being “pitchy.” 

Truth be told, there’s a lot that goes into singing perfectly singing in tune, and not even all the best singers in the world sing perfectly in tune every time. 

But if you want to know if your child sings well, here’s where I’d start. 

Download a free tuner app and play a note (F works well to start). 

Ask your child to listen and then sing along with the tone on the app (or piano). 

Are they close to the pitch? 

Now play a C above that. And then play a C below that.

For a real challenge and an even bigger test, play the note and then stop. Now, have your child sing the pitch with the tuner on. 

It’ll tell you how close they are to sing on pitch. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it likely won’t be. 

But if it’s close or the app recognizes it as the right pitch (if slightly out of tune), then they have good pitch matching skills. 

Warning! This is not a strict indication of musical talent! People can recognize pitches perfectly and struggle to sing them because singing is a muscular act. 

Being sick or untrained can affect your ability to sing in tune, and some people don’t have the natural muscular coordination as much as others. 

This DOES NOT mean you’re bad at music! It just might mean a musical instrument may be a better option for you. 

Fit Inside Beat And Rhythm

Too often, people look for pitch matching in good singers and leave it at that. 

It’s a big part of the puzzle, for sure, but it’s only a part of it. 

Another huge indicator is the singer’s ability with a beat and in rhythm. 

Vocalists have a reputation for not being good at this, and it’s partially because they learn so much music by rote (by listening). 

When you sing in a large group or sing more complex music, if you slow down or change a rhythm, you sound wrong. 

I’ve got two quick checks for you here to see if your child has natural beat/rhythm skills. 

  1. Put on a metronome (from the tuner app, probably) at the quarter note equals 110 beats per minute. Ask your child to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and another easy favorite song. If they fit with the clicks, that’s awesome! 
  2. Pick a recorded song or piece of music your child knows well and sings along with all the time. Ask them to sing along with the recording and keep going even if the music stops. Hit mute on the music randomly, wait a few seconds, and then turn the volume back up. If your child keeps singing and the two parts line up pretty closely, they have good internal rhythm and beat. 

Light, Yet Clear Vocal Sound

Another element to watch for in good singers (for young people) is to listen to the quality of their voice. 

Is it pleasant to listen to?

Child singers (pre-puberty) should have light voices, and yet they should be clear, not airy. 

Further Reading: How to sing less airy

Pre-puberty children should NOT sound like adults. 

While some can, it puts too much stress on their developing vocal folds. 

Many young singers like this end up with vocal nodes or nodules, causing severe pain, and it may prevent them from ever singing well again. 

During puberty, singers (especially males) need to simply focus on doing what they can and enjoying music. 

Their vocal range is severely limited during this time. 

This is where limited pitch matching and rhythm come into play. 

Once puberty is resolved (in terms of the voice), singers can sound with a full head voice or chest voice as you’d typically expect. 

Further Reading: Head voice and falsetto differences

Change Dynamics Without Sounding Bad

The final element I look for is a picky one, and it only really matters at the highest level of skill. 

Many kids can sound good or even great! But can they sound just as good when they’re singing loud, medium, and soft?

If they do it naturally, they have a firm grasp on their singing voice. 

If they don’t, getting thin in the quiet dynamics or harsh in the louder dynamics, then they need more help. 

Again, none of this is a true measurement of musical potential or success. 

It’s only a snapshot of where they’re at during this moment. 

But it should give you a place to go on in determining how much singing ability they have. 

What Should I Do If My Child Is A Good Singer?

Take your cues from your child, how old they are, and what they’re interested in.

If they are in the elementary stage, sign them up for an elementary choir or find a vocal coach with experience in their age group. 

If they’re older, seriously consider voice lessons from a skilled teacher. 

Alternatively, if the price is an issue, consider signing for a quality online singing course. 

My favorite is the 30-day Singer. 

Its music lessons are clear and voice-type specific. With hours of videos on singing techniques, your child will have plenty to learn and practice with. 

Of course, this is only for older students (post-puberty). Younger kids should get what they can from an in-person teacher or choir. 

Get all the experience of singing lessons at a fraction of the price (and at your own speed) with 30 Day Singer.

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher in Michigan with 12 years of experience. He's the President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and founder of the Dynamic Music Room.

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