Hello, fellow voice teachers!
It's no secret by now that teaching online lessons are getting a lot of us through this pandemic. I for one am feeling very grateful for the opportunity stay connected with students, to provide the welcome distraction of singing time at home, and to maintain income amidst these difficult times.
As someone who has never previously taught an online lesson (and admittedly, had my doubts!), I've been pleasantly surprised by how smooth the transition has been. The majority of lessons have exceeded my expectations of productivity, and have also pushed me to step away from the piano and try new things. Here are 5 of my personal favorite resources that have made this process so much easier. Many thanks to all of the online-teaching pros who have been lending their expertise!
1. The Full Voice: Online or in-person, The Full Voice has long been my go-to for fantastic resources for teachers of young singers. Nikki Loney and her team have created an awesome workbook curriculum, a fabulous podcast that covers a wide range of teaching topics, and my personal favorite introductory sight singing resource: "Sight Singing Superhero". There are also tons of great FREEBIES on TFV site, which I've found especially helpful for online lessons where we might not have access to or be able to share to our usual props, books, etc. in our studios. It's easy to download + send many of these sheets along, and Nikki posts a video with creative ways to use them on her social media pages. Check out Nikki's latest- "The Cactus Song"- and be sure to subscribe to TFV newsletter so you don't miss a "Freebie Friday".
2. Accompaniment Tracks/Databases: I’ve tried and heard wonderful things about the Appcompanist app, which offers a 30-day free trial for new users. Call me old school, but my personal preference has been to purchase accompaniment tracks for download that I can send to my students and store in my personal collection. With how much everyone is juggling right now, I like eliminating the extra step of downloading the app, especially beyond the free trial period. For purchasing Musical Theatre tracks, I most often use: Pianotrax.com. While you can purchase individual tracks for download, they also have an app/subscription (with a 7-day free trial) that allows the same unlimited streaming capabilities/features as Appcompanist (with the exception of exercises), but additionally, you get 3 free downloads a month! I think this is a great option for those who like to download/own certain tracks, but can also have the option to stream. Not feeling a subscription right now? Here are some current PianoTrax Promo Codes: WASHYOURHANDS for 30% off all mp3s; EDUCATOR for 50% off 30 or more mp3s.
3. Teachers Pay Teachers: Having a clear lesson plan in advance has been key to making online lessons run smoothly. This is why I send out any materials we will use to students/parents in advance (or for my Zoom students, rely on the ‘Share Screen’ feature!). TPT has been a great resource for a wide range of theory worksheets and activities for all ages/skill-levels-created by fellow teachers! I’ve purchased fun rhythm bundles, song activities, and even lyric exploration sheets. It’s an awesome resource for inspiration, and a great way to support other teachers. They even have some Freebies available! Speaking of which, here are a few other sites among many others that offer free, downloadable theory worksheets-particularly for the littles: Opusmusicworksheets.com & letsplaykidsmusic.com
4. Musictheory.net: Musictheory.net has tons of free content available that students can easily access on their second device. Under ‘Exercises’ > ‘Ear Training’, I’ve used the interval and chord recognition exercises. Under the ’Settings’ wheel, you can customize the intervals to isolate just a few at a time, and select ascending or descending. They even have the option for teachers to customize their own permanent link to an exercise with saved settings that can be easily sent to students! I have not fully checked out their lessons catalog, but there’s lots to explore, as well as enhanced offline versions of content available for paid users.
5. Guide Vocal Voice Memos: There are many instances, especially with my very young students or those that struggle with intonation, where it really takes time for students to reach the comfort level needed to sing to a track without guide vocal support. To help these students transition to singing with a track, I'll work in slow, incremental steps and record voice memos for them on my phone or iPad. Step One: I use my own voice as guide rather than the voice on the recording and have them practice singing along with me (this can be done A capella or to the track, whatever you find most suitable). Step Two: I then slowly wean them off by making another voice memo with my guide vocal just on the entrances or tricky moments. Once they are feeling secure, using the track alone becomes the final Step Three. I've found this process especially helpful as a general practice tool, and during this online period. Being unable to sing with them at the same time can be harder for students who are used to or need that extra support in the beginning of the song learning process. This also gives me the opportunity to really emphasize what we’re working on through my guide vocal, for example, a certain breath spot that the singer on the recording might not observe, clear diction, staying up in head voice, etc.