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Student Engagement in the Voice Studio

August 30, 2022

How do you keep students engaged in the vocal lesson?

A great question! This is the (hands down) number one question I get in our monthly FULL VOICE Teacher Training workshops

It is challenging to keep students on task in productive singing lessons. While it is convenient to blame outside issues for distracted students, in many situations, it is more about how we present the information and allow students to participate in the learning.

Engagement is far more than simply “paying attention” but the degree of curiosity, interest, excitement, and motivation in learning. Here are simple recommended strategies to improve student engagement.

Making Connections

Getting to know our students is crucial for successful lessons. When we know about their passions and preferences, we can personalize the voice lesson and build the teacher-student relationship. Giving students time to tell us about their day or share information with us is vital. Of course, you will have to direct them into singing-related activities, but we must build trust and connection with our students.

When people feel well-cared for, connected, befriended, and trusted, it boosts the neurotransmitter oxytocin, which primes the brain to learn. A sense of belonging in the classroom, and a genuine social connection to their teacher and classmates, can create an ideal learning environment for students. (Studycat.com)

Personalize Activities and Repertoire

Does your student have a cat? Perhaps they will enjoy vocal exploration activities using meows? Are they excited about Halloween? Introduce spooky vocal exercises and repertoire to embrace the season. Use student preferences to make connections that matter to your singers. 

Teacher Tip: Use the FULL VOICE Listening library to discover new music. You can share the videos with students to help them decide.

Finding age-appropriate repertoire is easier when you have made an effort to know your students. Furthermore, allowing singers to choose a new solo from a small selection of songs will make all the difference in your student engagement. 

For more teaching strategies for helping students engage with new repertoire – Listen to the interview with Donna Rhodenizer on episode 162 of the FULL VOICE Podcast.

Piquing Interest

Sharing interesting information (fun facts!) about the song’s subject is an effective teaching strategy. Allowing students to share fun facts about details in the music will ensure excitement, interest, and personal connection to the activity. In addition, understanding how the student connects to the song’s story can help teachers bring more exciting music to the lesson.
Check out the lesson plan and fun facts for Wolf in the Forest

Active Participation

 Active participation is any activity where the student is moving while learning. So ditch the boring standing by the piano exercises and level up your singing warm-ups by:

  • singing with solfege hand signs
  • allowing students to use props
  • tapping the beat when singing
  • using flashcards

Props and Visuals

Make your singing activities more visual and kinaesthetic by incorporating props and visuals. An engaging voice teacher can:

Learning Stations

Allowing students to move around your studio to work at different learning stations is helpful. Learning stations could include:

  • sitting on the floor
  • sitting at a desk
  • a solfege wall (Free solfege wall cards here)
  • singing with the piano
  • having a performance area in your studio

If you are teaching online, have your student set up both a sitting and standing station in the area where they are having their lesson. 

Make them Laugh

A child smiling and laughing is learning. If you have a low-energy student, introduce a silly activity. Giggles will help them come back into your lesson plan. Ask students to:

Flexible Lesson Pacing

It is essential to have a lesson plan. It is equally important to have a backup plan. Observe your students. If they are enjoying the activity, you can continue a bit longer. If they are getting fidgety, it is time to modify the exercise or move to another activity.

Mindful Lesson Pacing

Students may not be up for your original lesson plan, which is OK. Whether the student is nervous, has low energy, or needs vocal rest, having a backup plan with non-singing exercises is essential. Non-singing activities could include:

Autonomy and Choice

Giving students a choice of activities in your lessons builds greater independence. However, autonomy doesn’t mean they have free reign over all decisions, and providing limited options of activities or songs can help prevent overwhelm or keep students working towards their goals.

Wishing you a fabulous season of singing! ~ Nikki

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