5 tips on a planning the 'First Singing Lesson' with a new student!
It's been a week of new starters at Margate Vocal Studio, and whilst it's really enjoyable to work with new students, it's very easy to forget how important the first lesson is for both the student and teacher. For the teacher it should be approached as an opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the student. Because to create vocal plans tailored to a student's individual goals you need to have a really good understanding of their current ability and experience.
This means the preparation for a successful first lesson should start well before the warm ups! At Margate Vocal Studio I send a 'New Starter Form' to all prospective students. This includes a few questions about previous experience, voice type, and what they are hoping to achieve. This allows me to prepare a individual plan for the first lesson.
As the first lesson is centred around discovering the level of the student it's common practise to ask the student to prepare a song for the lesson. Some teachers use a particular song for all new starters, this allows for a universal grading system. I prefer to ask new students to pick at least one song they are comfortable singing. And for those who are more experienced I ask them to prepare two songs. One which they feel they sing really well, and one which they struggle with. This is a way of assessing the natural voice and the areas that need work. As singing in front of someone new can be very daunting, I find that leaving the song choice to the student helps to create a more relaxed atmosphere.
During the lesson I introduce the Margate Vocal Studio's 5-20-5 structure (See more on the website), but one thing that is important to remember is not to overload the student with too much new information. It can be tempting to try and solve all the vocal issues at once. A more helpful approach is to introduce new technical elements over a series of lessons. This gives the student the time to learn and develop in between the lessons. Two areas that are useful to explore in a first lesson are posture and breathing technique. I find this can often have an immediate impact on vocal quality and phrasing.
And lastly a really important area that can sometimes be overlooked is giving clear instructions on the work that needs to be done independently. At Margate Vocal studio I record lessons and send personalised emails. These contain notes on the repertoire, but most importantly the exercises and technical work that will help the students develop between lessons.
I hope this has been helpful to both teachers or students. Follow me on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margatevocalstudio/ for blogs on everything singing and performance related!