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Singing Competitions for Kids – The Effects of Music on Cognitive Development

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What are the benefits of music for children? Why should kids sing at all? What are the objectives of a singing competition for kids and how does music affect social development in this setting?  

Singing competitions for kids – the effects of music on child development: singing competitions are fun and provide great opportunities. Plus encouraging your child to take part in singing competition has a great effect on their cognitive development.  

Singing competitions can be nerve-wracking for any singer, never mind for a young inexperienced performer.  However, there are many benefits of music for children who choose to enter kids singing competitions – which you can learn about below. 

The benefits of children singing in competitions 

If your child shows talent, promise and enthusiasm, you may be considering entering them into some kids singing competitions. This can give them a platform and the chance to be seen. But there are many more reasons to get them involved at this level from a young age.  

So, why should kids sing in competitions? 

Music and child brain development are closely linked. So the more your child is involved in singing the better it is for their development. Competitions may be nerve-wracking, but they’re also exciting and filled with social opportunities. As they get older they’ll have to frequently compete for things – whether it be jobs, university places, or the chance to be part of something that’s in demand.  

By singing in competitions, kids learn life skills, become self-assured and understand that if you want something worth having, you have to work hard at it.  

The objectives of singing competitions – music and child development 

Benefits of singing competitions for kids

Let’s take a look in detail at some of the benefits and objectives of singing competitions.  


Entering a kid’s singing competition can be a good way to help build a child’s confidence. Naturally, they’ll be nervous, but we all thrive when we’re doing something we enjoy, and if you’re a singer then performing on stage to a live audience is a feeling like no other! 

Everyone gets stage fright, but the more stage experience a performer gets, the better they learn to handle those nerves. And learning to do this as a child, provides a fantastic life skill that comes in handy in all manner of scenarios throughout life.  

A singing competition is a good platform to gain stage experience in a safe professional environment. They’ll be surrounded by others in the exact same position so there’s a great support network  too. 


The music industry is a difficult place to break into, especially without performance experience. Many children have dreams to become a singer.

Singing competitions for kids give children the chance to gain experience performing in front of an audience and on stage. Performing in front of an audience is a vital experience for any professional singer. So many industry professionals will expect nothing less when looking to sign new talent. Being prepared to compete in this way shows resilience and ability that gives those investing in that talent, the confidence to do so.  

Developing their voice 

One of the best ways in which a singer can develop is to take constructive feedback from experienced music experts.

For example, at Open Mic UK, our judges include a wide range of music industry professionals who are able to offer feedback to the child on how their performance went. 

With feedback from the singing competition judges, you’ll be able to see which parts of the performance are strongest and which bits need a little work. Receiving feedback from music experts who have a wealth of knowledge regarding the singing industry is a vital tool. 

By being able to take feedback on-board, the child can improve on their vocals and performance. And being able to take constructive criticism is another one of those valuable skills. It will certainly make their teacher’s lives easier! 

Gaining exposure 

A singing competition is often a chance for industry professionals to see you performing. With many competitions inviting A&Rs (which stands for artist and repertoire – referring to the talent scouts from record labels), there is a chance that the young singers are given further opportunities as a result of the attendance of these professionals. 

Sometimes all it takes is the right person to attend a singing competition and give you the exposure you need to become a success in the music industry. For many stars, this has been the route to fame and fortune. 

There are a number of ways to develop children as an act but singing competitions have proved (for acts like Birdy, Courtney Hadwin and Luke Friend) a great resource to improve to the level to be successful. 

Children’s singing competitions UK 2019 

Finding a competition to enter is the first step. Let’s look at the more established and well-known options available for entering your child into a singing competition for kids.  

Where you should be applying will depend on the age of the entrant, your location and what you’d like to get out of it. There are some questions you’ll need to ask to narrow it down: 

  • Would you prefer an all ages contest that includes kids, or one that is specifically for children?  
  • Is the aim to be seen by influential people, or is it more for a one-off experience? 
  • Are you prepared to travel a distance to attend an audition? If so, how far?  

Open Mic UK 

Open Mic UK Competition

Did you know that Open Mic runs one of the biggest national singing competitions for kids (and adults) in the UK? 

We accept entries from children as young as 10 years old. To find out more, please head on over to our competition page for details on how to enter and when the audition dates are.  

Auditions are held all across the UK, with regional finals ahead of the grand final which takes place annually at The O2 in London. 

There are many other kids singing competitions you might want to consider too.  

The Voice Kids UK 

If you’ve followed the ITV series The Voice, then you wont want to miss this is a kids’ singing competition. It’s too late to get in for 2019, but keep your eyes on the application section of The Voice Kids website, for the next block of auditions.  

This year the team of star makers were on the hunt for solo singers and duos, aged 7 to 14 years.  

In terms of competitions, this is a real biggie. A lot of the contestants who do well on TV shows, had racked up experience in singing competitions already. This helps prepare, gain confidence and deal with whatever happens. The auditions are extremely competitive, so previous experience will put you in good stead.  


TeenStar Competition

TeenStar is a competition for dancers, dance groups and singers. The age groups are divided into age categories: Preteen (under 12) and Teens (13-19). Entrants perform in front of industry judges and the teen (or pre-teen) crowned TeenStar Champion, wins a prize package including album recording with a producer at River Studios, high profile media coverage and artist development and consultation.  

In 2013, Luke Friend won the first TeenStar competition in its final at The O2 in London. Other participants include winner of The Voice 2019 Molly Hocking and BBC’s All Together Now winner and UK’s Eurovision representative Michael Rice. 


Time to Shine 2019 Singing Competition – Caudwell Children 

The charity Caudwell Children organises the kids singing competition Time to Shine and ‘The Butterly Ball’ each year. The event is held at the prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Mayfair. Time to Shine gives a young person aged 12 or over, the opportunity to compete for a place on the bill at the ball.  

It is not exclusively a singing competition for kids, so be aware that you may be up against someone older. You can only enter Time to Shine once (as a solo act or group) and must audition with the song you would sing at the event.

Big names including Elton John, Gary Barlow, Whitney Houston and Rod Stewart have all appeared at the ball in the past. So it’s a great opportunity to be seen and make valuable industry contacts.  

Britain’s Got Talent 

This is another big one as singing competition names go. BGT is like many others, not exclusively a competition for kids, nor is it exclusively a singing competition. However, kids are very welcome and often do very well. There’s a separate website for applications (from the main BGT one) and you can choose to audition person or via digital means – so your geographical location won’t hold you back.  

Britain’s Got Talent is open to all ages but is certainly not for the faint-hearted as it’s a prime time TV show. As it’s more of a variety show, this one is ideal if you’re seeking a competition for a more gimmick based performance (such as singing and magic combined, or musical comedy).

There’s a spot at the Royal Variety Performance up for grabs, an eye-watering a £250k in prize money and a huge amount of publicity to boot.  

Find out how to prepare for a singing competition:

Singing competition in school: the benefits of music in early childhood education 

If there are no opportunities for your child to take part in kids singing competitions locally, then the school is a great place to look for one. Some schools even encourage kids to set up and run their own talent nights, or X-Factor style contents – with assistance from the teachers.  

Not only will this provide some healthy and stimulating competition, but it also provides a platform for children to exercise their organisational skills too. If the current trend is to continue though, fewer resources for music in schools will mean parents searching more and more out with the school environment. So if you’re one of the lucky ones and your school already has great music education facilities and singing competitions going on, take full advantage. 

Current music and child development statistics: the need for parents to get kids involved

There’s an increasing amount of evidence corrobortaing music and child development. For a long time, it was believed that a child who listened to Mozart would grow up to be more intelligent – this was known as the ‘Mozart Effect’.

Music and child development is actually much wider, broader and deeper than this though. And the benefits of music extend beyond classical pieces, to all types of interactions with music, in many different settings.  

Science also shows that the physical act of singing is excellent for the mind and body. This is down to the way it encourages the body to breathe well and the endorphins it releases when letting loose with a number. What’s not to love about singing?! 

Yet despite this, there’s been much in the press about this unfortunate demise of funding for music education lately. If you have been affected by this or will be in future, then it’s even more valuable to be proactive about getting your kids involved in music as part of their education.

It doesn’t matter if it’s in school or not, only that they are exposed to singing and music from as young an age as possible and that they are given opportunities to develop in this way.  

Benefits of Music for Children: The Effect of Music on Child Development

Singing competition in school 

Open mic for kids  

To give your child the opportunity to sing in front of an audience, look for local open mics. These vary in terms of how high profile they are – usually in line with the venue in which they’re held. Bigger, more well-known ones may have talent scouts regularly popping in. Smaller ones will be more relaxed and feel very inclusive.  

The best bit about an open mic event is that it is just that: open to all. The key is to enjoy yourself and see what you can do, but without the competitive element. It’s a great place to warm up and practice a song before a live audience, to make it competition ready. 

The benefits of singing in early childhood 

If you or your child would like a career in the music industry, the sooner you can start that journey, the better. Many artists are discovered at a very young age, and many young artists are discovered through competitions. It’s not just the winning that counts either.  

By taking part in a well-known contest, you’ll be seen by many influential people. The further you get, the more that applies. Record and TV executives and talent scouts are all in the business of finding the ‘next big thing’. This means they regularly frequent places where they might just discover new talent, especially singing competitions.  

In some cases, singers have been spotted at singing competitions for kids, and later invited to audition for big shows. To stand a chance of being noticed, you need to be in the right places, as often as possible, from as young an age as possible.  

Even if singing never becomes a career, the benefits of learning and practising it in early childhood will continue on throughout life. Taking part in singing competitions for kids brings a sense of pride. Having taken part (and hopefully having done well) will provide memories that will be cherished for a very long time.  

Related Questions 

  • At what age do kids start to sing?  

As with most elements of child development, this will vary from one child to another. Singing to them yourself and exposing them to music really helps speed it up. On a basic level, the average is around 2 or 3 years old. But children aren’t usually able to hold a melody until around 4 or 5.  

  • Can music increase motor attention and mathematical skills of/in children?  

Playing an instrument (especially piano or guitar) can be of benefit in contests. Yes, the more honed your knowledge and ability musically, the better your motor skills will become. Music is very mathematical too, which is why many people are good at both subjects – the two complement one another.  

  • How does music affect today’s youth? 

The effects of music on child development, aren’t just cognitive. Practically, a lot of teenagers and young people find a great deal of meaning and purpose in making music. This gives them a powerful hobby and deters them from following destructive paths and from pursuing less wholesome hobbies.  

Have you found any other benefits of children’s singing in competitions? Have you noticed the effects of music on cognitive development with your child? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.