Singing Teachers and the New Term
Gearing up for a new start
Just before going to the gym today I noticed that I feel like I’m gearing up for a new term. This is strange because I will no longer be working to this pattern. I have recently finished teaching students in professional training in Liverpool but still have that “back to school” feeling. I know many singing teachers will soon be starting the new school, college or university year and that this will sound familiar. The academic year becomes ingrained, and your body and mind get used to the seasonal pattern. For singing teachers this means thinking about what we’re going to do with our students in September, creating a number of challenges (I can hear you groan as I write!).
The challenges and how to meet them
1. Singing Teachers Feel rested after the break but then adrenalin kicks in!
This can cause anxiety about what we’ll do. It can be useful to take a few steps back and avoid letting the seemingly huge number of tasks you have to do become overwhelming. Make a list (in priority order), breathe deeply (Daily Calm app works for me) and go for a walk. Then make a start, one thing at a time. Find a colleague to discuss things with; sharing ideas is helpful. Plan and then enjoy the rest of your break.
2. We haven’t seen our students for a number of weeks
So, we need to re-assess where they are up to vocally and emotionally! It is fine to spend a couple of lessons re-assessing a student, in fact I’d say it’s vital. In the past I have fallen into the trap of worrying about exam rep or audition preparation from the outset. What I really needed was to get a clear idea of where my student was up to. Young people in particular can change a lot during the school break, and so can their voices and emotional state, particularly around adolescence. Give yourself time to find out what they need.
3. We need to find new repertoire and ideas
The point of this is to expand our own knowledge as well as theirs. As singing teachers, learning new rep for ourselves is always a challenge. Just a few minutes a day of listening and trying out new things can help. Then you can evaluate the teaching value of certain songs. You will also get ideas about which of your singers might like or benefit from a song. I have much more to say about repertoire actually, but I’ll do that in a future post (so do check back).
4. Singing Teachers In private practice will get a flurry of new enquiries
This is a challenge in itself, fielding calls, giving introductory lessons and finding slots. Some students won’t settle until the school term is established, especially if they are moving schools or going to university. This may mean a slow start and postponed lessons. Go with it – I have found that things usually balance out over the term. Some will even take an extra lesson or two to make up. In the meantime Have a look at this great app from Vocal Process it will help you to get your own voice into shape during the gaps. It’s also great for your students (designed for speaking but can easily be adapted for singing).
5. Our older students graduate
HE and FE students often want to stay with their singing teachers after graduation but soon find work or move away. This means re-defining the relationship or recommending something new. The most important thing here is to do what the student needs. Even if they can continue it may not be the best way forward for them. Don’t be afraid to recommend a colleague if need be. If it is right though, they may wish to keep in touch and have lessons at suitable points. Also, Skype can work well, especially if you know the voice.
It’s still a great time
Despite all of this September is a time of new and exciting possibilities, a fresh start. For me this is more so than at the New Year. I hope your new term gets off to a great start and that you enjoy the new challenges. I must say that I’m feeling a bit lost without mine! I am however looking forward to working with a small group of singing teachers on my online mentoring programme in September. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about any of my work, I’m happy to chat. Have a great term.
©Anne Leatherland VocAL Intuition 2018