by Samantha Kelly
Every little girl wants to be a singer at some point, whether it’s in the form of a big pop star like Taylor Swift, or a belting, beautiful broadway singer like Idina Menzel. The real question is, can every kid sing?
The dictionary definition of sing is: “to use your voice to make musical sounds in the form of a song or tune.” This means that everyone that can talk, can sing. It’s just a matter of if you can sing well.
“When I started [teaching music], which was about 10 years ago, I wasn’t sure [that every kid could sing]. I had some kids who could not match pitch, who I thought would never be able to match pitch, and it was hard,” said Angela Kelly, the music teacher at Charlottesville Day School. “I just figured that that was their limitation, but I learned probably in that first year that when exposed to it enough, and when really encouraged by other kids in the classroom and by me to not stop pursuing finding the right note, their ear does become more trained and they do find their voice.”
Charlottesville Day School (CDS) is a small independent school located near downtown. Its mission is to “Celebrate every child. Challenge every learner.” At CDS, music education is a huge part of the curriculum. Students begin music classes at the age of two, and by middle school every child is participating in at least a band and a choir class.
One of the school’s beliefs is that “childhood music education fosters self-confidence and achievement across traditional academic subjects.” This claim is something that the administrators and staff have seen first hand, yet there are also numerous scientific studies supporting it.
“Participating in musical activities – whether playing an instrument, singing or listening – stimulates a whole network of brain areas, each interacting with the others to contribute to enjoyment and understanding of the music. This brain workout leads to improved structure and function through a process called neuroplasticity – the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections,” said a study done by the Royal Conservatory (E. Glenn Schellenberg, Music Lessons Enhance IQ (Psychological Science, 15)). Neurologically speaking, music can help students form new brain connections. Music can almost be seen as a brain workout, as you have to be actively thinking and making connections one may not make without music..
Talking about this topic around school, many students believe that everyone can sing, yet very few of them actually consider themselves singers. This could be due to a lack of confidence in the area of music. However, music can spread confidence not only in the specific subject, but throughout different academic aspects.
“I really think music helps confidence. I think learning to sing in front of people can really help someone come out of their comfort zone and stop being shy,” said Cassie Ferrer, junior and musician here at Monticello.”
“I wouldn’t consider myself a singer because the only time I sing is in private,” said Sydney Elam, a ninth grader. “I might like singing more, or even consider myself a singer, if I had more exposure because I feel like getting to know singing and music better, you could understand it and like it more.”
Many people agree with the statement that every kid can sing, yet those same people may not consider themselves singers. Confidence is a major factor in music and singing as well, and this confidence gained through music can be seen in many other aspects of life. With consistent exposure, hard work, dedication, and a good support system to instill confidence, people can get where they want to be musically.
“When I might have said no quite a few years ago, I think today I would say that there are very very very rare exceptions of people who can not find pitch. Most people can develop pitch. So the answer is yes, I think that every kid can sing,” said Kelly.