1) It’s okay to feel nervous!
Singing in front of someone you’ve never sung in front of before is daunting- especially when their focus is completely on you! A good teacher will be observing not only your voice but your posture and breathing. Notice how I said observing, not judging? A good singing teacher will be making non-judgmental observations- they want you to succeed. Your success is their success…which brings me on to my next point…
2) Mistakes are an essential part of learning…
Anyone that has ever mastered anything will know that mistakes are necessary to growth. Imagine if you had stumbled as a toddler learning to walk, and then decided that because you hadn’t managed it the first time you may as well have given up? I’m willing to bet that this isn’t the case, as most young children don’t listen to negative self-talk (younger and wiser?). Some people learn quickly, and some people take longer to learn. When you come to perform, no one knows, or cares, how long it took you to get where you are- all they are thinking about is where you are now. Enjoy the ride!
3) You might like to set a goal with your vocal coach..
It might be nailing a song at karaoke, or perhaps it’s perfecting the vocals for your latest EP..whatever it may be, working towards a goal can really help you focus your energy and measure your progress. Equally ..…
4) Lessons should be fun!
Determination, patience and passion is the winning formula. Ambition and dedication will get you far, but it’s important to enjoy the process too! One reason singing is such a powerful exercise is because it keeps you focused on the present moment. Another word for this state is ‘mindfulness’.
5) You may want to record your sessions..
You can do this on your phone or ask your teacher to record it for you. It’s worth mentioning that most of us don’t love rough recordings of our voice. You might cringe a little bit when you listen back, and that’s okay. Mistakes are vital to growth, remember. Having a record will allow you to recap on any instructions or advice you were given, track your progress over coming weeks, and allow you to really hear where you were successful. Sometimes during a lesson you’ll be repeating something until you nail it. You might hit the target sometimes, and go off target at other times. Listening back later can really help you make the distinction between ‘hit’ and ‘miss’, and allow you to be more ‘in the flow’ during the session.
6) It’s okay to not ‘get it’ straight away…
Everyone learns in different ways. Some of us learn by imitating certain sounds (auditory) for some people it’s all about how it feels (kinesthetic) and for others, being able to visualise what the vocal cords are doing is really helpful. Sometimes your teacher will give you an instruction, and quite frankly you’re on a different wavelength. A good teacher will find different ways of describing a concept until you understand- so don’t be afraid to ask questions- which leads me to….
7) Your teacher should never make you feel uncomfortable or bad about yourself.
This one is really important. Teachers are people like anybody else, they have good days and bad days, however, just like anybody else, they also need to be professional. A teacher must be honest with the student about areas that could be improved (and come up with solutions!) but snapping at, belittling (and insulting) students is just bullying (NOT being ‘harsh but fair’ or whatever other excuses they throw around.) Be wary of teachers that purport to know your future. Whilst no-one can guarantee you a life of stardom they can help you become the best you can be. Likewise, no-one can guarantee your failure (remember the man who turned down the Beatles?) so don’t accept labels that do nothing to serve you. You should leave your lessons knowing that you are on the right track, confident about the action you need to take and feeling inspired.
You are the master of your own ship. Your requirements will be specific to you and will be determined by your goals, as well as the genre of music you wish to perform. The relationship between Student and Teacher is one of collaboration and exploration.