When I choose to work with a singer, I have chosen. I choose in a contemporary fashion, and because of the dynamics of growth and change, choices may change. When a singer works in my studio, it is, also, their choice. Making sure it remains a contemporary choice is vital. That you are willing to involve yourself in that choice, as I will, is completely important.
Then, in my teaching I will have made a choice, as each singer has. I believe the choice is ongoing and timely. I believe the choice is about trust, time, money, fearless growth, openness, effectiveness, authenticity. All of these choices are to allow art to be created. All of these choices need to live in a safe learning environment, not only for the singer, the pianist/ co-creators, but also for the teacher.
What do these choices offer in quality learning in the Nancy Olson Chatalas Studio?
1. A choice is an invitation: For me this choice includes inviting each singer to be the brilliant artist that you are. You can shine in my studio.
2. As part of the safe learning environment I understand that each singer comes into the learning spiral at many different levels, and with very individual needs.
3. Each singer has physiology and the science of vocal function in common, but again, at many levels of awareness and intellectual understanding in the learning spiral.
4. I am a willing advocate for each singer. This may not always involve feedback that a singer wants to hear, but it will always be from my heart, from knowledge and my years of experience and discipline.
5. Each singer brings their own special and unique genius into their lesson and when I greet that singer at each lesson, this is what I choose to believe.
How are choices made manifest in learning objectives?
1. Each singer has multiple intelligences and has many manifold abilities to take in information and make it meaningful and habitual. I choose to teach through holistic methods and my belief in multiple intelligences, including movement, rhythm, touch, visual, aural, mathematical, humor, story-telling, role-playing, verbal, logistical, special, emotional, intra-personal and interpersonal to name a few.
2. Physicality: Through guiding the singer to experience the physicality necessary in singing, I chose to encourage each singer to extend, deepen, trust and connect to the work. I invite each singer to develop an ongoing awareness of learning to trust the feeling and sensing of musculature and movement in their own body in singing. KURT ALEXANDER ZELLER
3. Science and pedagogy: I support the scientific understanding of how posture is involved in singing and I teach this through touching, listening, moving and gesturing and through means of immediate verbal feedback. I encourage the singer also to learn through movement, touching, listening and speaking with immediate verbal feedback their own understanding at that moment.
Alexander Teaching Theory
4. I choose to encourage the singer to explore through questions and immediate feedback how a certain sensation feels from the inside? I promote questions such as: How does that sound I have heard on the inside differ what I am hearing on tape? How does what I am feeling on the inside sound on the outside?
5. I consider it my role as a teacher to support change in the singer’s understanding in the various skills of singing and to provide factual and scientific information, including visual information about the science of the vocal tract, breath, and resonance, diction, and posture. These also include empirical approaches to history and background of a work of art or composer, the promotion of effective practice techniques, and the preparation of performances and auditions.
Singing and Teaching Singing: Second Edition 2011 by Janice L. Chapman
6. I am prepared to spend valued time with each singer talking in their lessons about auditions, roles, goals, calendar, strategies and consider this a part of your lesson whether there is singing involved or not. As part of the mentoring needed, I am further available to discuss issues that are impeding progress. This is all a part of the lesson and what you have chosen in a teacher.
7. Imagination and singing: I will imagine with the singer and encourage role-play of various applications in the ongoing expectations of the singer at different stages in singing. For example in practice: how to practice, what to do to support the individuals responsibilities in learning. Or how to approach auditions, or what to expect when fulfilling a new role, health and well-ness issues, meditation and breathing techniques, etc.
8. Intervening on one’s own behalf: Old ‘habituals’ become new habitual and directing the singer toward the understanding and ultimate implementation of new behaviors is one of the most dramatic and effective methods in my studio. These may include, among many things, postural issues, body tension, gestures, facial expressions, habits of old thinking, ways of preparing for a lesson, practice techniques, movement and concept of sound. Many ways to implement this learning goal would be through recordings and feedback and is clearly one of my goals in teaching. This is part of learning requires developing awareness in trust the kinesthetic aspects of singing. To training the singers imagination to remember how they want to change, even when not singing. To remember the feeling of the sounds they want to produce and to meditate and remember these new feelings. I teach this through immediate feedback, through questions that I expect the singer to explore.
9. I fully expect the singer to pay attention to how they are feeling about the changing of old habits and to find ways in their practice to change those incrementally. Although, I must admit that I have seen certain amazing changes happen almost overnight. However change and the implementation of change happens the singer must be willing to accept and implement this. Changes and growth are difficult. Sometimes change begins in a singer before I recognize it, and it is my duty to stay out of the way of that singer and encourage the growth.
10. The same ol’ same ol’: A singer who comes back week after week with the same issues, clearly does not understand the instruction, the feedback given may be resistant to the change. It takes courage from each singer to be willing to change. Along those same lines, the singer who comes back with the same musical mistakes or diction errors is not practicing with focus. It may be clear that this singer is choosing not to be available for lessons. This issue is difficult in our relationship and changes my level of interest in the singer. It does not call upon my best abilities as a teacher/mentor, so I really feel you don’t get your investment’s best use. You must choose to practice and focus. You must create time and energy for these tools to develop. When it becomes clear to me that the repetition of these resistant behaviors is a problem, I will clearly release that student.
11. I want to imagine and support with the singer the dreams of the future and to be wise counsel in the development in step by step benchmarks.
12. I am willing to be courageous in accepting within clearly designed boundaries the support of the whole singer including the soul/identity of the singer and to choose every lesson to believe in the creative artist who stands before me.
13. I am interested in supporting in each singer the continued mastering and harmonizing of the energies of the mind, emotions and body with focus toward always creating art.
14. I am wholehearted willing to grow in my understanding as a technician and holistic teacher so that I may continue to develop as a guide in the support of the living interplay between the physical body, the inner singer and the creative artist. In this goal to be able to change my understanding of my own teaching through education, and, if it becomes arcane to change it. Therefore, I am opening a means to continue to employ up to-date scientific expertise. The results will continue to be to tune the vocal instrument, extend expression and support the real and true nature and potential of the each singer through intuition about the body/mind—instinct, movement, sensation and feeling. This does not, however, preclude my intense academic preparations for each lesson.
15. In developing my scientific knowledge I am able to better work through the employment of my own considerable intuition based on fact and experience to monitor stress on the instrument with the goal in mind for a strong, flexible and healthy voice.
16. In my teaching, I make the choice to be brave in the journey. To support my strength as a teacher, a singer must be willing to meet me there. It may involve making sure you tape recorded is working, your pencil is sharpening, you are not late for lessons, you have practiced during the off time between lessons.
a. This requires practice, research, music learning, coaching and preparation, not to mention timely and respectful attendance of lessons. This also includes timely attention to payment of tuition and the rules established around those issues in my particular studio. Examples: I require each student to take the responsibility pay ahead at least one lesson, schedule ahead and be aware of any conflicts that may arise in the schedule.
b. The singer must be willing to record lessons and listen back. The singer must be willing write down in the music the corrections and feedback. The singing must be willing to journal about current learning. The singer must have the courage and must speak out when there are questions or issues, as this relationship is always growing and changing in subtle ways.
c. The singer must keep up with auditions and performances and set realistic timelines to prepare. This requires that the singer set goals and meet them with a strong and developing work ethic.
17. From my point of view it requires not only, my encouragement, discipline and musicianship, but also, allowing flexibility in my teaching. I must have courage to remaining determined in the goals, working to understand when to back away and when to move in or on. In this way the singer has the opportunity to develop resilience, strength in psychological and emotional growth, and care and compassion for oneself.
18. This also enables me to celebrate milestones with the students, to get rid of unwanted things, and encourage the independence of the singer. There is no better teacher than you-yourself. Ultimately, you will learn to be your best teacher, but in the process you must check in on a regular basis to support your independence. This is a kind of dichotomy.
19. I choose to be a wise counsel, trustworthy in offering feedback with skill from a grid of different perspectives and to keep alert in advocacy for the singer.
20. I choose to protect the privacy and interests of each singer. This involves strategic planning with the student, not for the student in managing a range of personal and professional issues and supporting a strong sense of a healthy and well-balanced ego in the process.
21. I choose to do all of this with compassion at the heart of the motivation and clear safe boundaries in place for each singer and for myself.
22. I seek to be learning and growing everyday as a teacher and to be open to change and growth.
23. I want to listen with wise ears and a full heart.
And now, I leave you all with today’s example of proper technique: