Private lessons are an investment for all families, and mindful teachers want to ensure our lessons have value and show results. Embracing play-based learning philosophies is challenging if you only experienced serious, result-driven voice training. If you are struggling with the concept of student-led, teacher-guided lessons that incorporate play-based learning, you are not alone! Here are some helpful strategies
The Power of Play-based Learning
Play-based learning is powerful. It is how we learn. (Fun fact: ALL of us, not just the kids. There is no cut-off age for the effectiveness of play-based learning. Even your super moody teens and your career track young adults will benefit from activities that make them smile!) A smiling, moving, and participating student will retain far more information. And most importantly, they will be eager to return to your class! Participation and play are far more effective than instruction!
During play, children use all their senses, communicate their thoughts and emotions, explore their environment, and
connect what they already know with new knowledge, skills and attitudes.
National Association for the Education of Young Children https://www.naeyc.org/
Everyone is doing it
Our classroom colleagues are experts in play-based learning. And our piano teacher friends understand the benefits of "off the bench" music activities. Fun, educational games performed away from the piano are effective teaching opportunities, and piano students have a blast. Why not in a voice lesson?
Playing-based activities and games can facilitate almost everything we do in a voice lesson. (It is our focus here at FULL VOICE Music!) And if you think this is a distraction from a productive lesson - not so! Students sing more confidently each and every week if they are having fun.
In addition to helping student learn, fun and engaging lessons can help address many of the challenges in our studios including:
Level Up your Activities
Moving to a playbased curriculum can be a simple as modifying some of your current activities and making them more visual and kineasthetic. Props and visuals are always appreciated and we have some fabulous teacher and kid-tested downloads that are guaranteed to make your students sing and smile
Warm-ups that make a difference
Vocal exercises standing beside the piano are fun(?).
Warm-ups that encourage students to move are MORE fun.
Check out the Songbird Warm-Up Game. It is a FREE download and allows singers to warm up their voices and bodies in a "choose your adventure" game.
Tongue Twisters are fun.
Tongue Twisters pulled from a jar are MORE fun.
Tongue Twister songs like this one are 100% MORE fun.
Music that kids LOVE to sing!
Songs about llamas are fun.
Songs about moody llamas that spit are MORE fun.
Songs about moody llamas named Monica that come with funny lyric videos that the kids can practice with at home are 1000% more fun.
Other considerations for teaching professionals
NO Correction Lesson
Our young singers are at the beginning of their musical journey. We don't need to correct every musical "flaw" within a 30, 45, or 60 minute lesson. Focus on all the good things. Compliment their strengths and just Let them celebrate all the awesome stuff they are doing. We don't celebrate the victories enough!
Still no smile?
If your best efforts to help a student out of a bad mood are falling flat - don't be afraid to reach out to parents with your concern. Perhaps there is more going on, and it can be helpful for the private teacher to understand so we can accommodate lessons in a healthy way. If a student is overwhelmed, we can pace lessons mindfully and make sure we don't add to the stress.
Give Parents a Reason to Smile
You know the kids are making it tough for mom and dad. Take a moment to send out a quick message about a recent accomplishment or level achieved in the lesson and let the parents celebrate too. Positive feedback is always appreciated, and we don't do this enough in our teaching studios.
Older students benefit from fun lessons! In fact, I believe that many of our adult singers may struggle with vocal instruction because they have never been allowed to explore their voices with freedom! I often ask my adult singers to try a singing game, vocal rollercoaster or tongue twister. You might be surprised how effective this can be.
On a more serious note:
You and I may have survived the super serious voice lesson experience. And if you studied toward a professional career, you may have endured intense instruction that was, well...less than enjoyable. The Master/apprentice model of instruction is a "power-over" relationship and one that can cause great harm. Our well-intentioned teachers may have had biases in their pedagogy that is no longer acceptable. It is advisable for all teachers to constantly reevaluate our pedagogical preferences with professional development and continued learning.
As always, wishing you inspired teaching and Happy Singing! ~Nikki