The Job of the Teacher

Weekly teaching tip – Dec. 6, 2011

A teacher has many jobs; mentor, cheerleader, educator, psychologist, etc, etc, but I feel that the most important job of the teacher is to Help the student get the feeling (find the mix) as quickly as possible, then gradually move them towards singing a song without falling out of the feeling.

How do we do this? First, the student needs a basic understanding of what it is they are trying to do; get into their chest voice, then move smoothly and evenly through their entire range into their head voice without changing sounds or vocal quality. The student does not need an extensive understanding of how this happens, or what muscles are used or how the resonance shifts, just that it will and they should be prepared for it and not fight it when the body tries to make these changes. We appeal to their Conscious brain.

Second, we use exercises to help them feel this. As teachers we know which scale patterns, ranges, consonants and vowels, will affect the different muscles and feelings of resonance inside the body and we use the best exercises and make sure that the student does the exercises properly so that they learn what it should feel like when they sing. As they do these exercises more and more the learning moves from the conscious to the sub-conscious brain and becomes muscle memory.

Finally, we help the student move from feeling on exercises to feeling these same sensations in the song.  The student can then sing and add style while remaining in tune and free of tension because they are in the proper placement. They are not fighting or trying to help the sound, they are allowing it to happen. We have helped them feel it and as a result they can duplicate the feelings. We haven’t simply explained it, but we have helped them experience it. We have helped them truly learn.

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