Especially as singers, we HAVE to think, as that’s the only way to affect our instrument. Questions I ask are: “What was the difference between that time and the time before?” “What are you going to do to try to change XX; How successful was what you tried and why?” “What did you think about that sound?” “What did you do differently?”

Overall, I have banned the words “good” and “bad” because neither tell you what to continue working with and what to try to fix. I also try to always use only positive directives. We’ll identify both what behavior we want to replace and then what we want to happen instead. Focus is then on what we WANT to happen, rather than what we don’t want.


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How do your students learn the art of performing? While I do address this topic in their lessons, the majority of my students learn the art of performing through observation and attendance at concerts.  When I started teaching I was surprised at the small number of my students who attended live performances. Upon investigation I discovered that many parents who didn’t have musical training had very little knowledge about our local music scene. A large number of them couldn’t name our State’s orchestra or name a performance venue in our city! [···]

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When first starting to improvise or compose, the silence surrounding the instrument or the piece blank manuscript paper in front of students can be rather daunting. Therefore I always begin creative activities within a genre that is familiar to students.

Outside of your studio, what engagement do your students have with music? This is a question that I am always keen to ask new students. The majority of my students hear pop music on the radio, ‘muzak’ in shopping centres, soundtracks in movies, ring tones and advertising jingles. Only a small minority of my students hear live music regularly and an even smaller minority are exposed to new classical repertoire outside of their lessons.

With this in mind, the first improvisational or compositional activities in my studio usually stem from a response to a visual stimulus and more often that not they are a response to a short film.  [···]

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