January and February (for those of us in the northern hemisphere) are tough months in the mental health department. The cold, wet weather, dark days, frequent and lasting illnesses, and the holidays now a distant memory, it is no surprise our students are not motivated to practice or sing at all. Teaching a long day of students while enduring sad faces, moody teens, AND stressed out adults can leave you physically and emotionally exhausted.
As teachers, we create and maintain the energy in our teaching studios, so check out these kid and teacher-tested ideas. Watch your singers leave your studio with a smile on their faces. (And you too!)
The Power of Play-based Learning
Our piano teacher colleagues understand the benefits of "off the bench" music activities. Fun, educational games performed away from the piano are effective teaching opportunities, and piano students are having a blast.
Fun in the voice lesson is essential too. And truthfully, this was not the approach taken by my private teachers back in the day. Every class was always serious singing business with technical exercises and repertoire development. I loved my teachers; they were fantastic music educators. Would I say my lessons were fun? Not really.
Teachers today have more in-depth knowledge of our young students.
- We understand and accommodate different learning styles.
- We appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of different personalities.
- We know more about learning disabilities and how to work with them in a supportive manner.
- We recognize that many of our students are over scheduled.
- We recognize that many of our students are suffering with mild to severe anxiety.
We can help!
Almost everything we do in a voice lesson can be facilitated with play-based activities and games. Students will retain far more information each week if they are having fun. Working on diction? Try tongue twisters. They are hilarious - even for teens and adults. Making a student laugh will free up that breathing and make them sing more confidently. Warm-ups can be fun and exploratory, and your kiddos can warm up their minds, bodies, and voices with play-based activities.
Try our new free download "SONGBIRD WARM-UP GAME"
Stickers have Healing Powers
My darkest, moodiest, every-thing-is-bad-and-I-hate-my-voice teen student has a weakness. She loves stickers. They are colorful and funny, and you would be surprised what your students will do for a sticker or two or ten. (My teens love the emoji stickers. Poop emojis are highly coveted.) Search Amazon.com for emoji stickers...jackpot!
If they don't feel like singing - then DON'T. A nonsinging lesson is not a wasted lesson. Nonsinging exercises are necessary for musical development with a variety of music activities that are essential for all singers. (Ear training, rhythm reading, choosing new repertoire, discussing character development...)
Check out the Podcast: The NO singing Lesson
Change the Lesson Format
If you have a usual lesson routine, be brave and switch things up. A different lesson plan makes things interesting for both teacher and student and gets everyone out of AUTOPILOT. Try starting the lesson with the well-rehearsed repertoire as the warm-up and doing technical exercises at the end.
Make it a Challenge
Some of our students thrive on challenges. Music reading, rhythm reading, note naming flashcards - so many options. Keep the challenges small and easily attainable, so your students do not get frustrated. Be sure to reward successful students with stickers or inexpensive prizes. Fun studio challenges should help to build community with your students and families.
Even if it is THAT Song!
Let them choose a song - no matter what the song. Don't insult or complain about the song, let them sing it and let them enjoy the song that they love.
NO Correction 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.
If you have any strategies for making things in the lesson studio fun, please post below!