“You Must Be x Old for This Ride”
I’ve been asked about our “youngest” age limit. We don’t have one. In fact, I’d love to see whole families participating together, regardless of the child(ren)’s age(s).
We’re shamelessly ripping a page out of Summer Musical Enterprise’s playbill here. Among the many outstanding features that organization provides New River Valley residents is the opportunity for whole families to enjoy performance-oriented activities together. What a wonderful way to impart a love of music & singing to the next generation!
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have standards. Here’s what matters: if your child is able and willing to participate constructively for the duration of a 1.5-hour rehearsal, then he/she is “old enough”. But that’s more a matter of disposition & maturity than age. There are 6-year-olds who can pass that test and 60-year-olds who can’t.
But we’re not running a babysitting service. If word got out that you could park a pack of kids with us for a couple of hours each week, we could have a ton of them “participating”. But we’d wind up doing more corralling than choralling. So to make sure this is a musically rewarding and productive experience, we will insist that at least one able and responsible adult attend rehearsals as well. And by “able and responsible”, I mean someone who can and will step up and enforce discipline among all the children they bring as necessary.
Children have limited attention spans, and even the best-behaved ones have less-than-laudable episodes. So long as the responsible adult steps up and handles them, so we don’t have to stop the rehearsal, fine.
We’d love to have the chance to instill a love of singing in and impart some practical skills to youngsters. There are huge advantages to doing that before the insecurities of the teen and adult years root and blossom. It’s so hard to overcome negative attitudes toward singing once they’ve become established.
But as a practical matter, it would be a lot to ask of a child who can’t read English yet to participate. It’s just challenging to keep them focused, and we won’t have age-appropriate teaching aids & strategies in place to help bridge the expected gaps. Being able to read music would be helpful, but isn’t necessary. Many participating adults can’t do that either.
So, again, there isn’t a hard age limit. It’s more a matter of what the child(ren) in question is/are capable of doing & whether the responsible adult is willing & able to re-establish proper boundaries & focus when they get misplaced.
Blue Ridge Vocal Connection
Thomas L. DeBusk