Virtual Singing lessons

Dr. Susan Yarnall Monks

Susan’s thoughts on virtual singing teaching:

Okay I have had only one online lesson so far but apart from the technology I do think there are useful observations to share for what they are worth…

  1. I found Facetime closer to face-to-face teaching than Skype or Zoom but it is a virtual world and very different, so picking up nuances of communication is harder and there is a temptation to get so worried about the technology that you forget to watch the singer…
  2. I think short and sweet is better in the virtual world 30 minutes of intense concentration is enough for me and I think for the students.
  3. Planning obviously is important but agree the strategy of the lesson with your student and your shared aims at the start e.g.
    1. We will do 3 specific technical exercises
    2. Let’s work on this or that particular passage in this song and the next
    3. Lots of highly detailed attention to text, phrasing, pitch, timbre, musical accuracy
    4. Aims for next week’s practice and schedule next lesson
    5. Check singer is happy with the outcome

4. I am very aware that my demonstrations are very close -up with the camera and my very expressive eyebrows make me look funny but that is how I am

5.  As Ian Anderson Gray said the camera can drain energy from you and from your singer, that is why short and sweet is better. Try not to be a perfectionist…

6. Use daylight to light the lesson if you can

7. To be honest trying to accompany the singer gets lost in the time delay and I think it is more useful to get down into the details. The singers can practice using accompaniments on line but your skills as a teacher are about so much more, colour, timbre, emotional communication, technical abilities

8. I think there are huge benefits of virtual teaching but it will never truly replace 1-1, face to face. Being positive makes a difference when everyone is under such pressure, adapt and re-imagine your teaching strategies and styles.

9. Helping the student prepare for these lessons is crucial, again specific goals will help. e.g. “You need to work on loosening those lower abs, and try not to tighten the jaw, or really work on your vowels” etc.

10. I always have 10 tips so this is the last…teachers and students can learn from the challenges and we will be saving the planet as well! I am excited about finding how much more there is to learn!


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