Thursday, August 16, 2012

Musical Study and Voice Lessons - Why do We Sing and What do We Get from Voice Lessons?

Musical Study and Voice Lessons - Why do We Sing and What do We Get from Voice Lessons?

We study an instrument to fulfill a passion and to perfect a craft. We love music and want to share that love with others. A singing teacher gives you the tools to get there, achieve your goals, and instill the drive to get you there. Together a student and voice teacher find the path to where each student is meant to be as a singer, but the student must follow through on the task. The nuts and bolts of a solid technique are provided and much repertoire is studied. Working within a studio gives a student individual support and interaction with others who are focused on fine tuning their own singing voice.

Singing lessons are so like and unlike studying any other instrument. Voice study is not only a way to perfect and fine tune an instrument, but you actually learn how to play that instrument called your body. You also study yourself. What makes you tick, what inspires you, how you can take care of yourself to improve your singing, and how you communicate a song with your body that you live and breathe with all the time. You never put the instrument away in a case or walk away from it. It is a part of you and therefore you guard it.

Singers want to share their song with others but sometimes get caught up with fear of sharing a part of themselves (as do all musicians). Voice Studio masterclasses, performances and comraderie can help to foster development and overcome the hurdle of fear through moral support, regular interactions with others who enjoy singing, and instill a drive to be the best they can be.

Why is Studio Interaction Important?


  • There is a drive to perfect performances because there is always opportunity to share one's talent.
  • There is constant exposure to new literature.
  • There is comfort in sharing the musical gift of singing with others in various settings.
I feel it is essential to have regular masterclass opportunities, both on specific topics and generalized study, and a few performance opportunities a year. There is always something new on the horizon for students to gleam from various experiences and ways to meet others who love to sing and may encourage them to "reach for the stars"! Voice lessons begin as a way to perfect the art of singing, but in this business, how wonderful it is to find a support system to help you get there and have fun in the process!
As a teacher, the highest reward is watching your students not only greatly expand their abilities and talents, but supporting one another in their quest to share music with others and be the best singer they can be!

As a teacher, what is the best thing you gleam from teaching?

As a student, what is the best thing a teacher can do for you?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Musical Performance Anxiety- Coping Cards and a Cheerleader?

Musical Performance Anxiety - Coping Cards

When we can help a student can get musical performance anxiety under control (or get rid of it all together), we empower the student with the ability to appreciate and enjoy their singing strengths and realistically address any weaknesses.  We can help the student (or ourselves) appreciate the good in our singing.   We can start to accept what we cannot or do not need to change and develop strategies to improve those that need improvement. (Ideas spawned from “Musical Performance Anxiety, Journal of Singing, September/October 2011, www. .

Someone struggling with performance anxiety must have assistance to “cognitively restructure” or target dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs people have which say that they are ‘inferior, cannot succeed, insincere compliments’ and place them behind.  The constant struggle to perfect our music sometimes invites these voices to call to us and it may be hard to turn the negative voices off.

A good way to combat these thoughts is using ‘coping cards’.  These are therapy/work cheat sheets which help the singer remember what they already do well.  These cards can serve as affirmations for the person to remind them of the value in life- what they do well, what will help them calm down in a nervous situation.  Have the nervous student write down 3 things that they know they do well when singing on 3 different cards.  For example, “(I have a gift and can learn to develop and share that gift with others”, “I communicate the meaning of this piece well”, and “I have a beautiful lyrical line when I sing X phrase”.  Some of these cards can be developed with the teacher to remind the student of what others also say about his/her singing.

Poor self-esteem is often the main culprit.  First look at:

1.       Accepting who you are.

2.       Capitalize on strengths (See card ideas above)

3.       Strategically deal with weaknesses (nerves, etc.) by tapping away at them bit by bit.

Working with strengths to address weaknesses allows someone to use ‘reasonable thinking’.  A reasonable thought is “I have talent that deserves to be developed and I can do that and be comfortable sharing that gift.” 

The physical act of looking at the cards re-affirms the positive thought or their abilities to help a student with nervousness.  When practicing, have them look at the affirmation cards to help them get over anxiety.  Repeat the exercise going into a small performance and again for a larger performance. 

Using ‘coping cards’ may be very effective moving into a first big performance in addition to continually working on the interpretation and characterization of the music one is singing. 

What do you think about ‘coping’ or ‘encouragement’ cards?   It never hurts to have a personal cheerleader in your corner.