This is one of the questions I hate hearing the most. When I was teaching preschool music in NYC a parent of a 5 year old told me about their child's passion for music and singing around the house. This question was coupled with: Is my child talented enough? First of all, for what? Are they going to be the next child star? We all know how that turns out...
Firstly, there is more to music than being "the most talented." What this mindset tends to do is create pressure and stifle the creative process. A process that has been shown to have a plethora of benefits for stress relief, academic achievement, and creativity to name a few. This can speed up a process for kid's and their realization of societal pressures.
When children are young, they believe that they can do anything. They sing at the top of their lungs, run "the fastest", and every scribble is a work of art worthy of the Louvre. Their imagination is incredible and their creative process is so pure. But as they age the rules change. All of a sudden you have to be "good" at something in order to do it. Children can develop more shyness and refuse to do activities they used to enjoy.
The truth of the matter is, most people who take music lessons aren't going to be professional musicians. But, so what? It's still an activity that everyone can enjoy and add to our lives.
Also: people peak at different times. If you would have asked my middle school band teacher if I was going to get a Master's in Music, he would have said no. Long story short, I was not great at the flute.
So long story short, who cares how talented someone is? If you're not pursuing something professionally, music can be a great hobby no matter how slow or quickly you pick it up. It may click someday and be what you pursue, with a little luck and a LOT of hard work. Either way, unless you're Mozart, 5 is waaaay to early to be concerned about those types of things.
Finding your voice type: What the fach?
One thing that is unique about the human voice versus instruments is the fact that no two sound exactly the same. Instruments are manufactured to sound as similar as possible, whereas you can distinguish an individual’s voice as they pick up the phone. However, there are categories that can help us think about the way we see our voices. Some people are better at singing low, and some people are better at singing high. Some people are really loud (me) and some people are softer.
The typing goes as follows from low to high. Men: bass, baritone, tenor, countertenor (rare). Women: contralto (rare), mezzo soprano, and soprano. Attached is a video by the Metropolitan opera that really helps to distinguish between the types of singers. The fach system is something used primarily for opera, and it takes things a step further. It adds qualifiers to these base types such as a character singer (bright voice), a coloratura (sings quick notes), a lyric (sings lyrical melodies) or a dramatic (sings big and loud).
Taking private lessons helped me find my fach, and find my place as a performer. As a child brought up in choirs, I was often told to blend, quiet my voice, and take out vibrato. I didn’t receive big roles in the shows I did. I hadn’t been exposed to opera, and saw women in tv musicals who where smaller with a different voice type than mine. I wasn’t sure how I fit as a performer.
Working with a teacher (who understood the fach system) helped me realize what my strengths were as a singer, and where I fit on the stage. I am a more dramatic singer, my skills are singing long and loud. There are different songs for me than other sopranos who sing faster and quieter.
Additionally, what people often forget is that our physical body is our instrument. Some parts of the way are body is physically formed makes up the way that we sound. A trumpet and a clarinet can play the same note. But do we expect them to sound different? Yes. Why? Because they are formed differently.
Our bodies are our instruments. Our skull, cheekbones, sinuses, neck, lungs, and abdomen all play a role, and that’s just to name a few. And everyone has a different body, and a different voice.
It took me a hot minute to embrace mine. As a young woman (especially one interested in theater) I had a lot of body dysmorphia. I wanted to look different and sound different. My first jarring voice lesson in college helped me change the way I thought about myself. My teacher pointed out different physical characteristics in me that I didn’t love about myself, like my big cheekbones and my short neck. I have come to know that this is a hallmark trait of some great dramatic sopranos.
Not everyone fits the mold perfectly, but it helps to know what you can do. And focus on that, you have a unique instrument with its challenges and its talents. Love that instrument, and love your body. Don’t be upset that you don’t sound like another singer, because at the end of the day, you sound like you, and that’s a beautiful thing.