As a singing teacher, you will know that singing is about far more than making music. Singing is a means of expression and communication that brings joy to many.
For many music students, singing lessons offer a stress-busting session where they can come out of their shells and work on their own personal singing style.
This is why it is essential that singing teachers recognise the individuality of each of their students and use their personal traits to help create their unique singing style.
However, in order to be successful in doing this, there are some pieces of equipment that singing teachers cannot do without.
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Do You Have to Play an Instrument to Teach Singing?
The likelihood that you have asked yourself this question as a new voice teacher is quite high.
Even though playing an instrument such as the piano or the guitar is not a strict requirement for voice coaches, there is no doubt that it helps.
Traditionally, singing teachers accompany their students on the piano, but it is becoming more common for singers to be accompanied on the guitar instead.
But why are accompaniments important?
As the teacher, before the student attempts a full song, it is incredibly important to get a feel for their tone so you can think about which musical styles will best suit them (e.g. classical, opera, jazz, musical theater, etc.). If you can accompany your student, the process of identifying their tone quality and musical ability is significantly easier.
Learning to sing with a musician playing the piano puts the student into a performance environment and helps to prepare them for performances and auditions in the future as they can gradually overcome any stage fright or nervousness. Creating an atmosphere that is optimised for progress in vocal lessons is key to achieving singing success.
Being accompanied by an instrumental helps each vocalist to situate themselves and better understand their role within a piece. Accompaniments also help with training the singer’s musical ear as they get used to chord sequences and cadences.
Some singers also play an instrument themselves, so practicing their pieces with an accompaniment may help them to overcome the challenge of singing with an instrumental accompaniment before they attempt to play it themselves.
If you’re an aspiring singing teacher but you don’t play an instrument, don’t worry! Playing an instrument isn’t essential to your success as an instructor and you can always download accompaniments from the internet instead.
Why a Good Collection of Parts is Essential to Vocal Coaching
When you’re delivering vocal coaching, having a good stock of pieces and songs for your students is essential.
Ideally, you should have pieces for all musical genres, styles and vocal ranges so that there is something for everyone.
If you’re leading a choir, you should be paying particular attention to the way you plan your rehearsals and make sure that you always have plenty of parts for your singers!
Thanks to the internet, getting hold of parts isn’t as difficult as it used to be, and you can download music as your choir grows.
Knowing how to read music makes learning pieces significantly easier for students, as they can attempt to sing through songs that are totally new to them and begin to work on the performance sooner.
However, as a singing teacher, you’re certain to encounter singing studentswho have never learnt to read music.
In this case, there are two possibilities:
- Introduce them to musical notation and basic music theory during singing lessons
- Adopt an alternative working method which is based on listening and musical ear training
Ideally, you should offer each student pieces which suit their vocal style and personal tastes which they will be able to perfect more easily.
What Equipment do I Need to Teach Singing?
So, now you have a good selection of pieces and maybe a piano to work with, you’re almost ready to get going!
The humble metronome is the backbone of singing rehearsals ¦ source: Pixabay – swooshed
Every teacher has their favourite gadgets for their voice lessons which complement their teaching style, but there are some tools which really are essential.
The Essentials for Voice Coaches
If you teach in your own home, you will probably have the most professional tools at your disposal.
These will most likely include:
- A metronome to keep the rhythm
- A music stand to keep your hands free of music and maintain a good posture
- Scores to use in rehearsals
- A digital audio recorder so that students can listen to themselves singing
These four simple things are fundamental to a successful singing lesson. Once you have acquired these items you can start to think about other equipment you think could be of use to your students.
For example, you may wish to invest in a good-quality microphone and recording system to create a sort-of mini studio in your home. This will give your students a good opportunity to learn to sing as if they are performing and get used to the equipment.
Using Computers in Singing Lessons
It seems there is nothing modern technology can’t help us with. Laptop computers can be useful for singing teachers offering online tutoring jobs in a variety of ways.
Not only are laptops easy to transport, but they can also:
- provide an accompaniment to their performance from musical downloads or by playing a CD recording
- record the student singing to show them their progress over time
- film students while they perform to help them work on their posture
- hold software for organising teaching schedules
Of course, the way in which you choose to use your equipment will vary according to the needs of each of your students, however, it is always a good idea to have tools available, even if you don’t always use them.
For example, a student who is aiming to master their own voice and develop their talent will not have the same needs as a student whose goal is to become a professional performer.
It’s up to you as the teacher to adapt your lessons to the individual needs of each student, whether they need to work on their self-confidence, tone quality, vocal exercises, breath control, vibrato and other vocal techniques.
Useful Software for Singing Lessons
The advantage of using a laptop is that you can connect a microphone and headphones as well as downloading software, however, smartphone applications can be just as useful to singing teachers.
Use software to help students understand their singing ¦ source: Pixabay – florantevaldez
An additional advantage to using a mobile phone application for recording students is the increased portability, which is useful for teachers who teach outside of their homes.
There is a wide range of music software available to download. Two of the most widely-known include:
- Vocevista: to analyse the voice in detail by viewing pitch as a frequency for example
- Audacity: this software is very useful for removing the vocals from a recorded song and editing recordings
There is a multitude of software which is simple to use and relevant to specific aspects of learning how to sing.
If you want to give your students something to work on between classes, there are plenty of singing applications available which can help them explore their talents.
Sometimes it can be difficult to be motivated to sing outside of lessons, so a mobile application can be a lifeline for any lonely singers who need a virtual duet partner to make practicing fun.
Here are two examples of useful phone apps:
- Sing Sharp: This app has pretty much everything when it comes to learning to sing. Aside from learning the fundamentals, Sing Sharp can teach you all you need to know about vocal warm ups and supporting your notes with your diaphragm.
- Swiftscales: This is probably the most professional app, however, it’s not always easy for beginners to use. Nevertheless, Swiftscales encourages students to accentuate their good qualities to become a well-rounded performer.