Monday, September 21, 2009

The Right Tools for Your Successful Singing Lesson

Getting the Most Out of Your Lessons #3

In my studio policy, I talk about getting the right tools for success. Here are the highlights:
  1. Recording Equipment: From a laptop with a plugged in mic to a mini iTalk on your iPod, recording your lesson for playback later is an invaluable tool. I know you had to listen to your mistakes but get over it so you can progress faster!
  2. Prep Your Music: Do your homework before bringing a new score to a lesson. That means you have listened to a number of different singers perform it (Youtube, iTunes, etc), written out the text and translated it word for word and poetically, done your International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), and then written the highlights back into your score!
  3. Prep Your Knowledge: Do a little research on your song - who was the composer? When was it written? What else was being written and by whom at that time? What was happening socially, politically, and economically in the world and in Canada? Who is the poet? This may seem obvious but I am constantly amazed that students think they just need to learn notes!
  4. Attitude: Get ready to focus and learn in your lesson. I could go on and on about the time wasted on chatter (I'm also guilty) so will just say, acknowledge how you are today and then get to the business of singing. If you have the kind of relationship with your teacher that you can talk to about your life issues, schedule separate time outside the lesson to go for coffee.
  5. Memorize you Music: Get your song memorized as soon as possible. My studio policy states that the second time you bring a song to a lesson, it must be memorized. The sooner you get a song on its feet, the sooner you can focus on everything else besides the notes!

Feel free to check out my studio policy which is linked to my website and let me know what works in your studio!


Luigi said...

I was looking through your "lesson tips" posts, and I thought you (or your students!) might be interested in a singers' web resource I've been working on: . It's a library of every Bel Canto technique resource I can find - treatises from masters like Lamperti and Garcia, videos of masterclasses with great singers, audio clips of lessons with famous teachers, etc. The site also has an integrated discussion forum, where singers can talk about what they learn from these documents, and even include audio if they want to demonstrate something.

No matter what kind of teacher or technique a singer has, there is always something to gain from learning the ideas of the greatest teachers and singers of our art form. I hope that the site inspires young singers to practice and explore more in their own time, and helps them to integrate the practical lessons with their teacher into an understanding of historic pedagogy.

I would love it if you would have a look at the site and let me know if you think I'm missing any resources. It would also be nice to have a voice of experience and reason like yours on the forums!

Elizabeth McDonald said...

Thanks Luigi for puttin me in touch with your fabulous site! I will spend some time checking it out but at a glance, I agree that we need to know our roots as singers and teachers of singing!


Elizabeth McDonald said...
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