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What is considered a normal singing range for children?
That is, when choosing a key for a song for children to sing, what range should the melody fall within?
Alternatively, what is an expected full range, and where is the comfortable range (tessitura?)?
If it differs for different ages, please specify!
Please indicate your source if possible.

I'm mainly interested in the singing range for untrained children, but the range for schooled children singers, if different, would also be of interest.

I've searched my books and the web, but haven't found a well defined consensus answer such as you pretty much can for SATB.

7

In my experience of leading amateur kids choirs, the comfortable range for most 4-8 year olds would be around middle C (or possibly as low as the B flat just below that) up to around D or E -- that is, just over an octave. Many kids would struggle with a low A or a high F, I think.

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I am a preschool teacher with a love for music and I assume that each normal hearing child can learn to sing. Regarding maths, you won't kick off by teaching a 3 year old multiplication and division. For the same reason one should introduce singing using age appropriate songs. Considering range is very important, otherwise they will produce an undesirable chest sound or throat sound, or they will just sing or shout off tune. If your group is 3 and younger, start off with songs ranging from D above Middle C up to B below the next C. Challenge them later in the year with higher notes, as they expand their range upwards at this stage. Songs for 3 - 6 year olds can range over an octave from D above Middle C to the next D or from E above Middle C to the next E. 7 - 8 year olds can sing as low as Middle C. By 10 - 12 years some might expand their range up to the second G above Middle C, while others might be able to sing down to G below Middle C. Unfortunately CD's and YouTube songs which stay within a preschoolers' range are almost non-existing. It's therefore better to introduce the songs without help (if you could call it help!) while you sing within the appropriate range. With very young children or children who can't sing in tune yet, start off with songs consisting only of soh and me, then expand to soh - me - lah - soh - me (the kindergarten chant) and then songs including the whole pentatonic scale. Young kids are still developing proprioception of the intrinsic muscles of their vocal cords and half tones do not come easy - that's why songs within the pentatonic scale (doh, re, me, soh and lah) is wise to begin with, e.g. Old MacDonald had a farm.

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They are most comfortable in the octave starting on Bb below middle C.

In Annie, the song Hard Knock Life requires a strong F# above this. When I worked on a tour of the show, picking up five 'orphans' in each town, there were two non-negotiable requirements - ability to hit that note, and not being taller than our current 'Annie'. Some of the 'dancing-school mums' had difficulty in accepting that we WEREN'T going to make exceptions. And some, despite clear advertising for five GIRLS, insisted 'there were boys in the movie'.

OK, some of them placed that F# in a less than optimal part of their voice. But it was only six performances over one week. I don't think we did any of them serious, permanent vocal damage.

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