"Circuit Training" Music LessonsThey’re not all the same but every now and again you meet a teenager determined to fit the stereotype. With so much hair over their face you’re not actually sure what they look like, their shoulders are dropped so low their hands are practically touching the floor and all questions are met with an obligatory “dunno” response (if you’re lucky)!

Were we ever like that? I’m sure many of today’s finest musicians had their moments as teenagers and I would like to just say that many of the teenagers I’ve taught have been highly “switched on” and motivated. But how can we inspire even the most apathetic student?

Enter something I’ve been trying out I call “Music Lesson Circuit Training!”

Now I need at this point to warn you that [···]

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UPDATE 10/3/10:  Zoom has just released their Zoom Q3HD.  Still with only a Hi-Low microphone gain, but with up to 1080p HD capability.  Details here.

This July I got turned on to a new way to record student lessons (by my continual inspiration for my studio, Cynthia Vaughn).  She recommended I use video when recording lessons, instead of recording & saving an mp3 sound file as I had previously been doing.  The camera she recommended is the Zoom Q3, by Samson (CNET review here).

The best thing about this camera is its ease of use.  I have had all my students purchase a 4GB minimum SDHC media card (they’re currently selling for $12-$20).  This allows for 1:23:37 of recording at 48 kHz, 24-bit audio.  At first use, I make sure the student knows that this card needs to be dedicated to voice lessons (warning: don’t let them give you the card out of their digital camera!), as I format the card, and then run the “New Card” program that comes with the camera.  This then places Samson’s “Handy Share” – a super basic video editing/playback program – onto the SD card.  After this one-time setup, all future lessons only require putting the card into the camera & then removing the card at the end of the lesson.  The time that I’ve been taking to save the lesson file onto a USB Flash Drive is completely gone.  My students all feel as if they’ve “gained” time in lessons.

Another completely easy part of the camera is the ease of switching between video and audio.  There is a switch on the side of the camera that toggles between video and solely audio.  There are times where I just want an audio file (such as when recording the notes of a new song), or very quickly video (for speaking a foreign language text where the student can really see what my mouth is doing for articulation).  This ease is AMAZING & well worth the purchase of the camera. [···]

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What is my job as a voice teacher?

I have decided to define myself is as a voice teacher.  I believe that everyone has the RIGHT to sing.  Research has shown that human beings are born to be musical.  Even more, humans are born to be singers (see Daniel Levitin’s book This is Your Brain on Music).  This means that EVERYONE can sing.

As a voice teacher, it is NOT my job to like or dislike your voice.  It is not my place to help you “be famous.” It is not my job to decide whether you can have a career or not.

It IS my job to help you to sing to the best of your physical ability.  It IS my job to give you information about how your instrument (your body!) works and how best to affect it.  It IS my job to change my teaching style to best suit each student individually in order to maximize their potential.   It IS my job to make singing fun and enjoyable.  It IS my job to encourage you to let your voice out and be free.  It IS my job to give you all the information you need in order to reach both your short-term and long-term goals.  It IS my job to help my singers learn how to practice effectively and affectively – what do they need to do in order to teach the body the HABITS of an effective singer?

Singers must be “mental” in order to sing well.  The main function of the vocal chords is to manipulate the air (th [···]

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