"I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY"
f I said this sentence after student's performance, the kids will 1. give me a massive proud smile 2. Jump up and down 3. High five me 4. said YES YES YES 5. or said suspiciously "really? are you sure?"
That's right. Very rarely I have nothing to say. I always have a lot of things to say. In fact, too much to say. Sometimes even after you produce a second note. I will stop immediately and say "are you kidding me?""What the hell is that?!!"
I am very big on technique. When you have very solid pitch, very ringing tone colour and strong chest, head voice and a well blended mix voice, you can do your expression freely because you are fully equipped.
Every year I have year 12 kids finishing HSC music, by the time trial is coming, all I said is "I have nothing to say. There is nothing more I can do to make it better. You have sung the best you can do and it's amazing."
The kids always end up having very good HSC performance results. The technique is solid, the good voice is there, the interpretation and the performance level is high. Singing is a subjective thing, everyone's taste is different but if I have nothing to say about your performance anymore, you are going to rock that HSC.
HSC kids, all the best . You are already rocking it. There is nothing more I can say. It's just that good.
When I was still a singing student but working as an accompanist at the same time, my old teacher told me that I shall never play accompany for my own voice students at exams or competitions once becoming a teacher. I couldn't understand at the time but always remember and follow what she said.
Now I really understand why. Students need to have the experiences to work with different accompanists and learn how to lead.
My students always said that I play better than any other accompanists. That is not true. They are just used to the way I play and feel more comfortable when they are singing with me. Different accompanist brings different ideas and styles to the song. I always tell the kids to do exactly the way you want to sing it and good accompanist will follow.
These days there is less and less chance to work with accompanist LIVE. We used backing tracks for exams and concerts because it's easier and cheaper. However the more you work with other accompanists the more you learn how to lead.
When you can lead comfortably and own the song, your stage presence and performance will be impeccable.
I grew up in Mosman and have always been living in Mosman. I know Mosman culture very well and sometimes even my own students said I have "Mosman attitude". (I will take that as compliment).
Mosman population is also changing. I used to have a lot of young families and now the majority of my students are teenagers. It's also a very small community because everyone knows everyone. I never advertise and 99.9% of my students are from word to mouth.
Probably I am a little bias but I think Mosman kids are quite unique. They are often very independent and have very strong personalities. They go to private schools and everyone knows everyone. Mosman parents are more laid back with kids singing lessons. The parents are not fussed about competitions or exams but pay great attention to the well being of the kids. I am quite strict with Mosman kids. Majority of them are very creative and it's a lot of fun to teach them but I make sure everyone knows exactly what I want them to do and I set great structure for them. No one dares to be late and I encourage everyone to participate in Eisteddfod and auditions. I believe Creative mind and talent need to combine with discipline to reach its maximum potential.
For my weekend students, I take kids from other suburbs who travel long distance to me. Most of them are from Pymble, Gordon or the Eastern suburbs. They are indeed different. They seem to be very academic and always look for competitions and exams to do. They also record everything I said and do it religiously. I love kids like this cause when kids do practice and have clear specific goal in mind, they achieve so much more. But there is also a problem. Singing and performing art doesn't work like academic subjects. You need to be chill too. Teaching these kids how to be chill and how to be in love with it instead of just excel it is a total different art.
That's why I love teaching.
Even though you yell at them, you still love them.
And they know that too.
I have a student who is the lead singer in the school band. The first thing I asked him is always “ok what should we work on now for your next performance?’ Then he told me the other day that the band has stopped by school.
That’s when I realised that on Monday, school across NSW were told that singing and playing wind instruments in groups should cease for the rest of term 3. The reaction for this varies. Some teachers said it is unfair that students were presented from playing and singing in bands but can still play contact sport on the weekend wile their parents could attend pubs, clubs and restaurants. Some teachers and kids are just relieved and are happy to have a break.
If you ask me, I do think it’s good to stop because it is hard to think of a way that groups can perform safely together. Covid 19 spreads from person to person through droplets in the air, even if the person does not show any symptoms of the disease. Both private and public schools should do their best to provide safe environment to kids.
Check out this article:
Aerosols are a bigger coronavirus threat than WHO guidelines suggest – here’s what you need to know
We always teach students to project the voice with diaphragm breathing technique. Well trained vocalists sing with strong air speed and lung pressure which will produce more aerosols. I do think there is risk in choir singing and I also believe that even in private lessons there is necessary to have sufficient space in conducting singing lessons with students. SO kids!! if you still love to come and sing, please ....air kiss and hug only. We have a big studio we don't need to stand so close to each other OK? hahahha
I know it is hard for the teachers and students but being safe is the most important thing. Lets not take any risk and stay safe.
2020 is not a good year. If you told me last year that 2020 is going to be like this I will never believe it.
I also see the lights of this situation that I never thought of.
Even the year 12 kids complain about no formal and all the adjustments they need to make, some of them seem to be less stressed emotionally. On instagram you don't see your friends go on luxury holidays or throw big fancy birthday parties that you might not get invited. People just entertain themselves at home, spend more time with the families and with themselves. As long as everyone is healthy and safe, that is actually a very good thing. open.spotify.com/episode/1vj7EuHVSdXLq0VvpH9kwM?si=n0hmAf7XSOyQEt1BQFlrKQ
As for singing lessons, at first I am really not used to not have any competitions or exams. I am the teacher who sets goals to everyone and goes and get them. I am also quite a show off so when kids do well and get something I post them everywhere. For a long time that's the validation of how good I am and how good my students are.
This year I start to be more aware of how important well being is. How music and singing can help the kids in situation like this. Also how we can use technology to still make our work more tangible when it come to practice. Kids also sing the songs they really want to sing. We had so much fun in the lessons even it's on zoom.
This year all the workshops and conference are on zoom too. They are cheaper and so much easier to access when it's just a click away. There is no need to dress up nicely and socialising with everyone at the venue. Oh I love that. I am attending every single singing workshops or conference everywhere cause they are all online now. I hope this never changes. So much easier and so much more efficient.
To be honest I don't think virus is ever going to go away. If not this one, probably something else. Instead of wishing for it to go I rather enjoy what's the best we can do in every situation.
As long as we all keep safe and healthy, every change is a good change.
"Progress is impossible without change. And those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything"~ George Bernard Shaw