As singing teachers, we are responsible for creating and maintaining the energy of our private teaching studios. I’m an energetic teacher, with loads of passion for what I do, and I love sharing with my students. The study of the voice and singing is personal, challenging, mysterious and unique. In return, I find that my students share with me their joy and also their stress, fears, worries and anxieties. Because of this, sometimes both teacher and student can leave the studio physically and emotionally exhausted. This is ok though, and entirely normal. Here’s how we navigate those tricky days, when energy needs to be conserved!
The Power of Play-based Learning
Our classroom colleagues are experts in play-based learning. And, our piano teacher friends understand the benefits of “off the bench” music activities. Fun, educational games performed away from the piano are effective teaching opportunities, and piano students are having a blast. Why not in a voice lesson?
Fun in the voice lesson is essential too. And truthfully, this was not the approach taken by my private teachers back in the day. Every lesson was always serious singing business with technical exercises and repertoire development. I loved my teachers; they were fantastic music educators. But would I say my lessons were fun? Not really.
We teachers today have more in-depth knowledge of our young students.
- We understand and accommodate different learning styles.
- We appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of different personalities.
- We know more about learning disabilities and how to work with them in a supportive manner.
- We recognize that many of our students are over scheduled.
- We recognize that many of our students are suffering with mild to severe anxiety.
We can help!
Almost everything we do in a voice lesson can be facilitated with play-based activities and games. And if you think this is a distraction from a productive lesson – not so! Students will retain far more information each week if they are having fun. Working on diction? Try tongue twisters. They are hilarious – even for teens and adults. Making a student laugh will free up that breathing and make them sing more confidently. Warm-ups can be fun and exploratory, and your kiddos can warm up their minds, bodies, and voices with play-based activities.
Stickers have Healing Powers
Even the darkest, moodiest, every-thing-is-bad-and-I-hate-my-voice teen student has a weakness. For some, it’s as simple as a sticker! They are colorful and funny, and you would be surprised what your child will do for a sticker or two or ten.
If my student doesn’t feel like singing – then they don’t have to on that day. Contrary to what you might think, a non-singing lesson is not a wasted lesson. Non-singing exercises are necessary for musical development with a variety of music activities that are essential for all singers. (Ear training, rhythm reading, choosing new repertoire, discussing character development…)
Change the Lesson Format
Even with a usual lesson routine,we can be brave and switch things up. A different lesson plan makes things interesting for both teacher and student and gets everyone out of autopilot. Sometimes we start lessons with well-rehearsed repertoire as the warm-up and doing technical exercises at the end.
Make it a Challenge
Some of my younger students thrive on challenges – older students too. Music reading, rhythm reading, note naming flashcards – so many options. Keep the challenges small and easily attainable, so your students do not get frustrated. Be sure to reward successful students with stickers or inexpensive prizes. Fun studio challenges should help to build community with our students and families alike.
NO Correction Lesson
Our young singers are at the beginning of their musical journey. We don’t need to correct every musical “flaw” within a 30, 45 or 60 minute lesson. Sometimes we build confidence by focusing on all the good things. Compliment their strengths and just let them celebrate all the awesome stuff they are doing. We don’t celebrate the victories enough.
Older students benefit from having some fun too! In fact, I believe that many of my adult singers are struggling because they have never been given the opportunity to explore their voices with freedom! I often will ask my adult singers to try a singing game or tongue twister. You might be surprised how effective this can be for you, too.