Getting students to practice – and in the right way! (All Teachers)
I am super keen on a massive discussion on this one!!
I just want to re-post something I literally just said in another thread which has prompted me to make this one:
I can’t believe I have to tell my students (who are mainly adults!) to practice WITHOUT the original vocal?! And also practice in chunks and only move on when you’re confident.. I had a girl come to me saying “yep, completely fine with Warwick Avenue – if anything, it’s probably too easy for me.” So I said, “great, let’s hear it!” and stuck on a backing track. She couldn’t follow the melody AT ALL.
I have had to teach students how to practice, which I find very odd, as it’s the way you would practice ANYTHING… bitesize chunks, lots of repetition, not moving on until you’ve got that section correct etc… however, we must do what we have to do in order to get the student to practice effectively!
I start off by providing them with all the tools and resources they need in order to practice:
a) Notes of what was covered in the lesson, which gets emailed to them straight after the lesson
b) Warm ups (attachments/soundcloud links)
c) Backing tracks/vocal guide tracks
d) Snippets of recordings from their lesson with tailored little practice chunks
Obviously it isn’t always all of the above, as that would be a little overwhelming! I ask them how they got on when I see them next and how they practised, and lo and behold, the excuses come! Then I just say “okay, let’s pick up where we left off” which is all very well and good, but obviously the repeat lessons start happening! I then politely explain to them that the repeat lesson essentially wastes their money..
I have a student who does an extraordinary amount with his life and I don’t know how he fits it all in. He is a full-time engineer, one of the fastest 10K runners in the UK, has sound production, drum and singing lessons, as well as playing piano and guitar, doing up his new house and having a relationship. He is pretty admirable as he takes it all in his stride, doesn’t appear stressed at all and sees free time as an opportunity to learn more of what he enjoys. He is ridiculously ambitious! Having said this, he STILL doesn’t practice properly, and I find myself trying not patronise someone who is so successful in several areas of his life. He rushes through things and hopes it will just “click” into place (classic issue with all ages) but I have to explain to him every lesson that you have to stop, listen, take it slowly and correct yourself! He’s pretty able, but I have now given him a tiny amount of practice on one verse of playing and singing “Seven Nation Army” as his rhythm was all over the place. ONE hand playing, humming along, feeling where the on and off-beat lands. Turns out, after over 2 years of teaching him, I probably should have done this a while ago!
I do too much myself, and car learning seems to be where I actually do most of my practice or get ideas for students/lessons. I have recommended this to others and that gets them integrating the singing in their daily routine, in small chunks of practice which is so valuable.
But when you’ve provided a student with everything they need and explained to them how they should practice, what more can one do? Well, of course it’s up to the student, and like most things in life, it’s down to YOU to get your shit together at the end of the day, pardon my French!
There really is no excuse; so when they say, “oh I haven’t got around to that” when it’s all right there, accessible on the smartphone that they are using all day and night, it can be frustrating!
But at the same time, I know where they’re coming from – because I’m just as bad, hell, I keep telling myself I’ll read this book about singing, but there I am, reading UniLad posts in the small hours.
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