Singing kids. Do you have one? I mean one of those kids who just won’t stop, who goes around singing to themselves or to anyone they can trap and tie down. This is an all-too-familiar scenario; Mom and Dad aren’t musically inclined, but their kid has talent. How do they know whether their child has what it takes to be a success? How does a parent know if they should consider taking out a second mortgage on the house to support little Suzie’s big ambitions?
Parents of singing kids must be honest with themselves before committing to the expensive and time-intensive job of organizer/chauffeur/private assistant to their offspring’s pursuits. Are they ready for that kind of commitment?
Even more importantly, parents of talented singing kids need to be absolutely certain that the driving force behind the dream of super stardom is their child and not them. Fortunately, in my experience, it’s more often the kids.
When I asked young Taylor Ware, the national Yahoo yodeling champion and America’s Got Talent runner-up, what she wanted for Christmas that year, she solemnly told me that she had written to Santa asking him to bring her a tour bus. I would say this girl is clearly in the driver’s seat.
When Miley Cyrus first came to work with me, she was the consummate professional at the tender age of 12, complete with her own assistant. She had great parenting and was one of the most balanced and happy of all the singing kids I have taught. I did not get the sense that her childhood had been compromised in any way by her career.
As a place to start, parents should consider the following ten issues in order to gain valuable insight into their child’s potential for stardom. The evaluations will help parents make the right decision about what to do when their child announces they want to be a superstar. This list addresses motivation and talent — both of which are essential to a successful career in music.
You might have a winner on your hands if your child:
- Is motivated more by making music than by the promise of stardom
- Willingly passes up other activities in order to practice music lessons
- Learns from shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent
- Seems passionate about singing, always looking for places to perform
- Handles constructive criticism and rejection by learning from it
- Sings as well a cappella as they do singing along with the radio
- Personalizes popular songs by adding their own special touches
- Sounds as good to music professionals as the singers on the radio
- Feels at ease in the spotlight and comfortable relating to an audience
- Gets frequent requests to perform in public
If the answer was ‘no’ to several of these questions, don’t rush off to the bank for that second mortgage. Your child may be talented, but most likely may not have everything it takes to have a successful career. Be encouraging and give them time to explore their talent.
Revisit these ten issues in a year or two and assess your child’s progress. If there has not been substantial improvement, consider that your child may be destined to use their talent in the church choir or in a local band for fun, rather than for profit as a music professional.
On the other hand, parents who answer “yes” to most of these questions should seriously consider their child’s future as a musician. Be aware that taking a leap into a full-fledged vocal/musical regimen will involve the whole family and dominate their offspring’s childhood years in the same way young gymnasts with Olympic aspirations forgo many of the typical social and personal pursuits common to the formative years.
Encourage your singing kids and support them as best you can. Seek professional guidance for responsible ways to help them grow musically. Remember, the drive for a music career must always be theirs, not yours.
Written by Renee Grant-Williams
Nashville vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams helped make stars out of many top artists: Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, Miley Cyrus, Huey Lewis, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Christina Aguilera.