This is a favorite performance of Girl on Fire in a string of regular appearances on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” made by Sophia Grace and Rosie, the pint-sized British child duo. Sophia Grace has a very developed voice for her age, and the confidence to belt it out even in front of a large intimidating audience. That’s partly due to her best friend Rosie, according to Sophia, who performs along side her to provide moral support and great dance moves.
In this performance of Girl on Fire, Sophia Grace shows a lot of vocal control. The fast vocal riffs and runs are impressive in a child her age. Although once in a while the runs slur together, mostly the pitch changes are very pronounced. It’s rare to hear runs executed so clearly at this age. Sophia also has a very focused, clear tone, without the “breathy” quality of most young singers.
This kind of vocal development is definitely possibly for a 7-8 year old student who is taking regular weekly voice lessons, but there are different factors at play that can affect how long the development takes:
1) How does the child speak? If the child has a very soft and breathy speaking voice, then that vocal quality will be the initial sound of the singing voice when beginning lessons. If the child has a very nasal quality – where the back of the tongue normally rests almost as high as the “ng” (as in “ring”) sound when they speak – then that will be the particular starting place for the singing voice when beginning lessons. So these natural tendencies will create differences in what the focus of study should be in the voice lesson, and how long it takes to develop an impressive, mature tone.
2)How focused is the child? If the student has a hard time concentrating, it can take sometimes as much as 3 times longer, or more, to make achievements in each vocal concept. It’s important to be a good listener to be able to understand what vocal concepts are being addressed, and to continue concentrating on the concept while trying it out. It’s possible for the voice teacher to focus on vocal exercises that need less explanation, and that automatically give vocal benefts when executed, but it still will always improve the lesson if the student is focused on the purpose of each exercise as they execute it.
3)How physically self aware is the child? Children develop at different rates, so one student may not be able to feel how to create specific movements with their mouth or their breath as well as another student. A young voice student who will learn quickly has a lot of control over things like: being able to relax the jaw, relaxing the lips, exhaling at a steady rate, controlling how much air pressure to use to support a note, enunciating words, being able to adjust the tongue, etc.
4)How verbal is the child? Children who speak articulately and with confidence will have an advantage in their voice lessons. This skill will affect the student’s ability to memorize words to a song and enunciate them well. Students who are shy and soft-spoken, who do not often speak in full sentences, or possibly mispronounce words, may find it more difficult to learn the words to a song. This is not a reason to forgo voice lessons – to the contrary – in this type of situation, voice lessons are an excellent tool to improving speech skills. Often, young students feel empowered when they are given words to say, when they might feel more insecure being as verbal on their own.
Regardless of how fast or slow a child shows vocal development from their voice lessons, it is still an extremely beneficial activity for any type of student. Students who need more development in the areas mentioned above, will be able to practicing developing those skills in their lessons. Every student should compare their progress against themselves, not against others, because the point is to find improvement in yourself, not compete against the improvements of others.
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