The Role of Recording Lessons during Training

Weekly Teaching Tip – June 8, 2015
by Piotr Markowski

Recording lessons is a useful educational tool during the process of learning singing:
• playing back the recorded material allows the learner to spot both mistakes and the
progress made,
• hearing the tone of his own voice helps the learner to realize that he sounds good, and
not ‘weird’ as he might have thought (this concerns especially new sensations and
areas discovered during the lessons), and the recordings can be used as ‘evidence’ of
• hearing the remarks of the teacher and exercises demonstrated by him for the second
time speeds up the learning process and makes it more self-conscious
• the learner has the opportunity to observe his voice changing in time.
Those recordings can also have a more practical application. Our students often use the
material processed during lessons for their daily practice, which is a very good idea provided that they are made aware of the difference between teacher-guided lessons, and subsequent practicing with the use of exercises recorded during those lessons on their own. During lessons, the teacher can constantly control the voice of the learner (and the learner himself). When the learner does a warm-up by himself, even though he performs the same exercises, he is not controlled anymore. This is why it is extremely important that the exercises recorded are appropriately selected (and how to perform them is entirely understood)! Practice makes perfect, but only if you practice 100% good habits.
Thus it seems a very good idea to teach a vocalist – especially a beginner who is less aware and therefore more susceptible to mistakes – an effective, but above all safe method of using the material processed during lessons. I recommend:
_ making the learner aware that the recorded lesson can be used as reference, not as
something to be followed from beginning to end;
Why? During lessons we allow the learner (in a controlled environment) to explore the new areas of his voice, to expand his vocal range, we often allow for experiments – which are not always successful. However, everything is under control – we can always change the exercise, vowel or range to one which is more appropriate. A learner without control who performs all recorded exercise will often do more harm than good.
_ during lessons – stating which exercises or lesson fragments can be safely
performed by the learner on his own while practicing at home
_ recording a well structured vocal warm-up, especially for beginners, which will then
be safe for the learner to practice on his own. It may range from 10 to 20 minutes
(depending on the individual). Preferably it should be based on a narrower range than
as practiced during live lessons (e.g. if during the lessons we made the vocalist go
outside her fourth bridge, then during practice at home it will be enough for her to go
outside the third one, or only approach the fourth). Remember that if something was achieved by the learner together with the teacher, it does not mean that the learner will be able to perform the same thing on their own – reckless experimenting can do more harm than good. We are of course speaking about beginning students My experience shows that recording lessons by learners is an effective educational tool, provided that the learners know how to use the recorded material.
Piotr Markowski

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