If becoming a voice coach is a personal goal and passion of yours, you’ve probably thought about what your lesson preparation might look like.
Among the first things you need to do is think about how you can make your sessions as productive as possible for each student according to their individual needs and goals.
Let’s have a look at lesson preparation and how to make your teaching as effective as possible for all levels.
Your First Singing Lesson
The first step in determining what exactly your sessions will entail is getting to know each and every one of your pupils. First lessons are important appointments for both teachers and students, as this is where the teacher-pupil relationship is founded and goals can be set for the future.
There are several elements which are essential for each voice coach to be able to provide a personalised and efficient programme.
The first lesson should be used to have a conversation with the student about their musical background and find out about these things in particular:
- Their level of knowledge of musical theory (to find out whether they can already read music, for example)
- Their performance ability and tone quality
- What they expect to get out of their singing lessons
- How long they have been singing for
- Their preferred musical genres and styles
- Whether they have had vocal training before and if so, what they thought of it
The first lesson will also give you a flavour of the student’s vocal strengths and weaknesses as you listen to them doing vocal warm-ups and singing a piece.
This piece can be a song of their choice which they are confident to perform. If, after their performance of their chosen piece, you are still not satisfied that you have heard the extent of their vocal ability, you can always provide another simple song which will help you evaluate:
- The timbre of their voice
- The control of their vibrato and breath control
- Their grasp of vocal techniques
- Vocal expression
Listening to your new pupil sing before advising them will give you an opportunity to take note of any bad habits you need to work on together as well as listening to their strengths and working out how to use these.
The first lesson is above all an opportunity to take stock of your student’s singing ability and investigate their potential by setting some goals which you can both agree on.
The Objectives of Signing Lessons
Each singing lesson should be made up of several steps, each with a precise end. The objectives of these steps should be determined during the first meeting between teacher and student to create a personalised course for each pupil.
Each of your students will have chosen to take singing lessons for a different reason. Singing is an artistic discipline with a variety of benefits, and so the idea that the only goal of singing lessons is to be a performer is diminishing.
Mastering control of a voice is a project for far more people than just its owner, and other benefits of receiving classical training in singing include:
- Expressing one’s emotions
- Improving self-confidence
- Focussing one’s energy
- Developing a personal style
- Improving diction
There are as many psychological benefits to singing as there are physical ones. Some lend themselves to singing lessons and some pupils find that they feel more at ease having completed a singing lesson.
As a singing teacher, you could deal with students of any age, from young children to adults. You will also have to deal with a range of abilities, from complete beginners to those preparing for musical theater auditions. Whatever your student’s starting point and end goal may be, you are the one in the driving seat.
5 Steps to a Successful Singing Lesson
Regardless of the individual objectives of the student, singing lessons can generally be divided into five distinct steps.
- Vocal warm-up exercises
This is an essential part of maintaining one’s vocal health. The correct way to properly warm up your voice is one of the first things singing students should be taught, as it makes for a clear tone and ensures that higher pitches can be reached without straining.
A few simple exercises are all that is needed to relax the vocal chords and get them ready for singing. Singing exercises are also useful for musical ear training, which helps with the musician’s understanding of musical theory.
- Breathing exercises
Breathing techniques are another essential for any singer, which, along with the correct posture, should be taught to all singers at the beginning of their courses.
The time these exercises takes to complete will vary depending on the level of the pupil. It is important to help students develop an acute awareness of their bodies at the beginning of their vocal training so that they can relax and use their diaphragm to support their voices without being prompted.
Once breathing has been mastered, overall progress of in the quality of each student’s tone will become more noticeable as they adopt techniques which help them fulfil their singing potential.
- Learning vocal techniques
A large part of your work as a singing teacher or online teaching jobs will involve teaching your student about vocal techniques to hone their voice and develop their performance skills.
Singing techniques don’t just include the voice itself, but diction, expression and the pronunciation of vowels. All of these things can make for a good range of focuses in singing lessons according to the level of each student.
- Study of a piece
Learning to sing is, of course, all about the joy of singing songs and pieces! This is why a good portion of each of your sessions should be used to work on a piece.
Regardless of the style of the chosen song (pop, jazz, gospel, etc.) it is always a good idea to learn it by heart. Lessons give students a good opportunity to study the score or partition and even get to grips with music theory.
Working on a piece is not just about singing it from start to finish, but accentuating particular phrases and rhythms to perform it in a way that showcases the singer’s interpretation of the song and gives a flavour of their musicality.
- Interpretation of a piece
The final part of your lesson can be used for practicing learnt pieces and interpreting them. This is an opportunity for students to put the various singing techniques they have learnt into practice as well as an opportunity to be mindful of their bodies and how they feel whilst singing.
Communicating and sharing emotion though the voice can help to alleviate stress and express feelings before an audience.
During a voice lesson, the student should be relaxed and standing with the correct posture as they listen for their cues and place their voice within their piece.
The role of the teacher is to inform the student about the positive aspects of their progress as well as any weak points they need to work on in order to perfect the piece further.
What Equipment do I Need for Singing Lessons?
If you’re going to become a singing teacher, there are a few things you will need.
The first of these is a musical instrument, such as a piano or a guitar with which you can accompany your pupils as they sing. This can help pupils to situate themselves within their piece as a singer whilst encouraging them and helping them to overcome any stage fright.
Involving other instruments with your singing lessons can help develop your student’s musical ear and help them get used to performing as part of an ensemble.
Here are a few other items which could help you and your pupil get more out of your lessons:
- A metronome, to help your student stay in time
- A microphone, to get used to stage equipment
- A camera, to record performances and let students watch themselves
- Music and lyrics in case students have forgotten their own copies
- A piano or CD accompaniment
It is also important to have a discussion with each student about the songs and pieces they wish to work on, and even encourage them to show you some of their own work (if they enjoy songwriting). Lessons can also be used to introduce students to new styles of music which you may think suit the quality of their voice.