Do You Ask The Right Questions?

Weekly Teaching Tip – March 2, 2015

Almost all of our internal dialogue is a series of questions and answers:

Am I hungry?
What do I want to eat?
Did I lock the front door?
What is the meaning of life?

Teaching is no different, we constantly ask ourselves questions and the answer our brain provides moves us to the next step.

Basically, ask better questions, get better answers.

The Three Teaching Questions:

When I teach, there are three basic questions that guide me:


Here’s how I use them:

WHAT am I hearing?

This is the most basic question. When I am listening to the student, what am I hearing?

Is it breathiness? Strain? Flipping? Etc.

Getting the answer leads me to question #2:

WHY am I hearing it?

This question goes much deeper than the first, right to the root cause. The better you can answer the WHY, the quicker you can find a solution.

The WHY could be that the vowel is too wide, the larynx is too low, there is insufficient cord close, etc.

Which leads to the third question:

HOW do I fix it?

This is where your teaching toolbox of scales, consonants, and vowels come into play. If you have answered the WHY correctly, the HOW should come to you quickly.

Make your adjustments and begin the question cycle anew. In fact, I use these three questions constantly.

If you are feeling stuck with a student, slow down and mentally work through the questions. If you can’t get to the answers in a definitive way, then you know you have more studying to do.

The WHY question in particular is helped by increasing your knowledge of vocal anatomy and acoustic science.

Ask the questions, focus on constantly getting better answers, and your teaching can’t help but improve.

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