Greetings inspiring teachers,
I hope your new academic calendar is off and running, or if you have already been in motion without pause, I hope you are ready for some inspiration to add to your productivity!
Teachers often ask me: How we can get our students to practice more, and how we constitute growth in the young singer?
My answer is not based on encouraging more hours of repetition and practicing; it’s grounded in the belief that singers will practice when inspired to work toward growth and change.
I have created a few handouts (like this one) that promote a growth mindset for young singers.
Over the years, I have witnessed a combination of gifts and talents in my young singers. Some students come with a beautiful ability to emote naturally with gracious gestures that are seamless and natural, but they may lag in musical or vocal coordination. In comparison, some singers come with exceptional vocal coordination beyond their years but perhaps lack expressive singing qualities or movement. Then some “have it all,” but are plagued with negative self-talk or unrealistic expectations placed on themselves.
I’m sure you have witnessed similar scenarios in your own studios, and one thing rings true through them all: it is always inspiring to see singers grow through challenges and develop in all these aspects of artful singing.
For voice teachers, the challenge of helping students to build confidence needs constant attention. It should not be ignored, and yet it is not something in which teachers receive training. This is an aspect we must be devoted to expanding.
To begin, we can promote a desire in our singers for self-acceptance. Getting them to love their unique voice and abilities can be a tall order, but it is achievable with focus and attention in the right direction.
As we help to build their confidence, we develop their skill level and their desire for growth. The beauty behind anyone's singing voice is the singer's individuality and poise. But sometimes there are various roadblocks for young singers, which present differently from adult singers.
Most young singers are still supported by their parents, caregivers, and extended family members in their lesson journey. I often speak of the need for a parent/teacher/singer triangle of support for young singers. Unfortunately, sometimes family members can add a negative influence in the lessons and unintentionally crush their young singer's confidence. Sensitivities can happen by even the tiniest of comments not intended to touch a nerve or by an overbearing presence with unrealistic expectations.
As teachers, part of our work with young singers must be to help build their self-esteem and confidence to promote brave and powerful voices beyond the musical score. And we can also help parents understand how to be a part of that.
I created a new handout you can share with your singing families, designed to shift the language and expectations parents and caregivers may have. Every young singer is at a different place on their singing journey, and none should be subjected to the scrutiny of what society or anyone else thinks they should achieve in their performance and vocal abilities.
Confidence building is beneficial for young singers who struggle with criticism from family members or their high expectations.
As guardians of young voices, we are called to empower and inspire the adult singers of tomorrow. Let's encourage our families to trust our expertise and join us in nurturing their young and growing singers!
As we enter into a new year academic calendar with ever-evolving circumstances, let's work to inspire our singers and their families for growth and acceptance before we start expecting daily practice rituals. Let's empower their confidence and encourage the change they want in their singing, which will catapult their desire to practice and refine.