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Boosting confidence with song

Motivating young singers is vocal coach's mission

Posted: August 18, 2008 9:42 p.m.
Updated: October 20, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Rene Urbanovich, from Saugus, gives music lessons to two sisters Jolie, 7, and Jasmyn Cadiente, 10, two of her weekly students. Urbanovich teaches singing lessons for young and shy kids.

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For Rene Urbanovich, singing is more than performing a catchy tune.

It's a chance for youngsters to explore their own abilities and build confidence in the process.

"It gets them to express themselves as individuals at a young age," the vocal teacher said.

Urbanovich, a Saugus resident who has been teaching singing lessons for 24 years, considers lessons especially important for youngsters because it allows them to conquer a challenge.

Mindy Cabral, owner of Little School of Music in Saugus, believes singing in groups can boost a kid's confidence.

"If it's a really shy child, I would suggest being in a class with other kids" because that provides the opportunity to blend in, she said.

Because the child is not alone in the spotlight, he or she is able to slowly build confidence with the help of peers.

Cabral, who offers voice lessons, said a child's environment also matters in how the child will be able to perform.

With each music lesson, Cabral believes, those teachings will translate into other areas.

"If they have confidence in this area, it can spread to many areas," she said. "I think it's a great way to start."

Cabral highlighted research that explains how being exposed to music can make a child smarter.

"If they are involved in music at a young age, it keeps parts of their brain turned on," she said.

During that time, Cabral said parents and vocal teachers need to be patient as the child develops skill.

"They'll do it when they are ready," Cabral said about singing solos and in front of an audience.

Parents of Urbanovich's students have seen progress in their young singers.

In an e-mail, Tammy Werth said her 12-year-old daughter Nicole has been singing since the age of 5.

Werth sees singing as a "creative outlet" for Nicole and also a way to learn about dedication and discipline.

"I have noticed that makes her more self-confident even as the awkward teen years approach," she wrote.

Similarly, Cathy Pulsifer said her daughter Mary, 8, has been taking singing lessons for three years.

Although Pulsifer doesn't anticipate that her daughter will become a professional singer, the lessons are a way to build her self-confidence.

"To be able to stand in front of 30 strangers and sing songs isn't easy," Pulsifer said in an e-mail. "But after taking lessons, Mary is able to perform."

Pulsifer said her daughter is thinking about joining the church choir and even looks to singing in times of stress.

"When Mary gets upset, she relaxes by singing," she wrote.

Urbanovich and Cabral believe the best way to determine if kids will thrive in music lessons is to watch their everyday behavior.

If your kids sing around the house or in the shower, voice lessons might be something to consider, especially so they can learn how to sing properly and safely.

Urbanovich said voice lessons can be smart for kids who also sing at school because many stereotypes portray young singers as attention-seekers.

However, Cabral points out that taking music lessons is more than learning a skill.

"Would they enjoy the process of learning more about it?" Cabral asked.

"The only way to know is to just try it."

And that means trying more than one lesson.

Urbanovich generally teaches six-week lessons while Cabral's schedule are based on semesters.

By working to build a skill, whether it's singing or a musical instrument, Cabral believes that motivation will remain a part of the child.

"If you feel success in something and you know what it feels like, you know how to recreate that in something else," she said. "If you practice a song really hard and then you can play it ...that success, you are going to have that forever."

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