Teaching Tip of the Week – May 9, 2011
I ask my students to record their classes filming, then to write down what was most important and keep a kind of exercise book/voice diary. This makes me feel that they make many lessons out of one: first living/experiencing it, then hearing/seeing it, then writing, then reading and repeating … so many possibilities to fix/consolidate a new step. Of course not everybody works that way, then no need to insist.
When I have the first contact with a new student, I take more time and do an interview asking many questions beginning with where he was born, where are the parents from, was there music in your home, which kind, what instruments were played, do you play an instrument, any professional musicians in the family or among important people to the family… And so on. About the voice: did you shout a lot when you were a kid, how does your family communicate, are you vocally tired at the end of the day, is your job voice demanding…When did you start to listen to music, what music, what do you listen to nowadays, which voices do you like to hear (male and female singers) When did you start to sing (choir, church, band…) Were there any traumas like someone saying: you there, shut up, you have an ugly voice (when you start asking, you’ll see, that this happens frequently to children) And the more obvious questions like: did you already have voice classes, any problems of the singing voice, what do you want to achieve with your voice, if I were a fairy, what vocal dream would you like to realize, have you ever had any pathology on the vocal folds…
And about health: allergies and reflux, the two most important issues, but also from the childhood on; did you suffer from pneumonia, sinusitis, tonsillitis, do you get flus often (anything related to the singing apparatus) AND very important too: the spine, especially the cervical spine. Any pain, muscular tension, muscular imbalance between left and right?
Of course this comes from my medical training and not from being a singing teacher. And it has given me the opportunity to get a “3D-image” of the singer. Some information doesn’t help in the moment, but months later I read my annotations again and understand something.