After half a year of learning (roughly 30 one 60 min lessons) my child can now almost perfectly follow the song when the same melody line is performed at the same time by other vocal, or even piano or guitar.

However she cannot sing well independently, making multiple tone mistakes and in general singing more like untrained person.

I thought about starting some maybe piano lessons so she could play the melody line for herself and get that way independent. However playing AND singing at the same time is even more difficult, and the melody lines she learns are complex (real world pop songs).

Surely we aim for the ability to sing one or another way independently from the existing CD track or the teacher helping. The teacher is a student in music academy, performs well herself but my 12 year old child may be her first student.

Do I need to take any actions like talking with the teacher or subscribing additional course, or this is just an expected "intermediate stage" that will pass and we only need time?

  • A half year is not very much at all. Meanwhile, have you mentioned this to her teacher? Your child may simply not be sufficiently trained yet to be able to hit the desired pitches. Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 11:51
  • 1
    6 months is a decent amount of time. Is your child practicing on her own? If your child only practices during the lessons, then the child needs to make sure to devote some alone time to practicing. Practicing without singing along to the song or an instrument playing the melody line will come a long way.
    – MrTheBard
    Commented Mar 17, 2014 at 18:59
  • @CarlWitthoft That was my first thought as well, but if she can follow a melody as she hears it, and then can't when she doesn't, there's nothing mechanical about the problem as far as I can see.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 14:48
  • At a young age (especially), music should be fun, and the driving force intrinsic. One could argue that if the ability to reproduce a tune hasn't manifested itself at this age, maybe singing isn't for her? A risk of killing the enthusiasm for music seems to be present... Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 11:08

1 Answer 1


I would indeed discuss it with her teacher. If the teacher doesn't appear to seem entirely confident in her answer, I would consult with other teachers as well. I would not add more lessons; they are likely to do more harm than good. Also, while she might "grow out of" the problem, she is likely to resolve it more quickly with help and guidance.

That said, there are things that you can do yourself to help. For a start, this doesn't appear to be a physical inability, since she can follow a melody without making mistakes. So, the most important thing is to be patient and positive. Be very careful not to yell at her or give her negative reinforcement. Negative input yields negative output, despite the persistent human belief to the contrary. Have confidence in her ability to fix it, and she will be much more likely to develop the same confidence.

Now, it seems more likely to me that this is a psychological block than some sort of (minor) learning disability. In other words, the reason that she can't sing solo is simply because she is afraid that she can't. If so, you can help her by inventing some exercises and getting her to do them. Don't try and tie these exercises to the problem, present them with a "let's see if you can do this" sort of attitude. Be curious about whether she can do the exercise, not whether she is going to learn to sing a melody without accompaniment. Forget about that, so she can too. Be creative, inventive, and playful, and so will she.

Start with something very simple. Give her a note on the piano, and ask her to sing it. Then, give her a note and ask her to count to three and sing it. Get her to count to five and sing it. Once she can do this (if she has trouble with this, then there may really be some sort of minor learning disability, in which case I would consult a specialist in learning disabilities for further testing and diagnosis), ask her how she was able to do it. She'll probably tell you that she just remembered the note. Tell her that's great, now let's see if you can do the same thing with two notes. Give her two notes. (Start talking with her about intervals at this point if you think it's a good idea.) Once she gets two notes, try three.

If she can wait five seconds and sing back three notes, then you can explain (or perhaps remind her is a better term) that if she can remember three notes she can remember more. Explain also that this is exactly how people sing without accompaniment; they're simply running through songs in their head (as she just did with the melody notes) and singing back what they remember. At some point, you should see the "light dawn" when she suddenly realizes that she can do this and understands how.

Hope this helps!

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