I often get asked about all the singing that my students do in their piano lessons, so I thought I’d write a quick response so that while your child might be learning an instrument, you know why they spend so much time singing. This will also help you guide them in their lessons.
The voice is our first instrument. We use it to express ideas, but first we used it to express feelings, and then music. Our voice is something that we internalize and becomes part of our thinking process. You read things in your own voice in your head most of the time. Young children often read aloud and some whisper to themselves or mouth the words for a long time before they learn to read silently. This silent reading is called audiating, and we do it when we read music, too.
Audiating is important to word reading and music reading, but it is very difficult to measure. So, how do I know that my students are internalizing the music on the page? I have them sing. If they can sing it, they can play it. However, with any new skill, especially one as complex as music-making, they may not be able to physically do it at first. If they can sing it perfectly, but not play it perfectly, I’ve narrowed down where they problem may lie. More than that, though, it is turning them into better musicians. They need to develop rhythm, melody, and tonal fluency and literacy in order to translate those skills into competent and expressive piano playing.
So, take your child’s singing homework (which all of my students have, as well as piano homework) seriously. Sing with them, listen to them, give them feedback. Help them check on the piano that they started and ended on the same pitch. Sing in the car, while you do chores, or walk around the neighborhood and sing those songs and patterns they are learning in their lessons. Sing their piano piece when they can’t practice at the piano. Your child will be a better student and a better musician for it!