Whether you are teaching private, classroom or choral music – you will have the challenge of working with shy singers. Some singers just need kind words of encouragement. Some of them need a whole lot more – but they are worth it! Shy singers are ready for singing lessons and they are an important part of your chorus. These quiet young singers have beautiful voices just waiting to be discovered. Here are some simple strategies to help you unlock those hidden voices.
1. Endless Encouragement.
Big smiles from you, fun stickers, thumbs up, high fives (my favorite) and well chosen words of encouragement go a long way to build up a singers’ confidence. Voice professionals know that small improvements are big deals. Shy singers need to hear about their progress. (So do parents)
“That was great -Your voice is getting stronger each lesson”
2. Give them visual /numerical feedback.
Sometimes students need a clearer understanding of what we are asking them. “Sing louder” is pretty vague. Try something like this:
“I need you to be 50% louder”
“That is only 50% of your voice…I need 50% more”
“Can you fill this whole room with your voice?”
3. Step away from the piano
Singing exercises where the teacher plays the exercise on the piano AND sings with the student are not effective. Shy students love these exercises because they don’t have to do much and they can continue to sing softly. They are merely hiding behind the piano. See what happens when you play or sing really softly…
Encourage singers to sing accapella – whenever possible. We recommend and have great success with tonic sol-fa (movable do). With or without hand signs, this method encourages independent singing right from the very beginning.
4. Incorporate music games to help them relax. Tonic sol-fa games and roll reversal games (you let them be the teacher) can really help to bring a student out of their shell.
5. Make them laugh. Laughing requires more breath. Harness that breath for singing! Smiling helps to project sound forward.
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