Teaching voice and voice related courses is a position I honor, balancing the technical, musical, and personal goals of each student and making assessments of what to address first. As the vocal instrument is one that matures at different rates for each student, I must encourage everyone to celebrate and grow at the pace that is best for his or her development. Choosing appropriate repertoire that appeals to the students and helps to address technical deficiencies, as well as showcases their natural gifts, is of utmost important.
Attention to the body is central to how learning happens in my courses. I consciously draw students’ attention to their bodies (and the bodies of their peers) as the vehicles through which music is communicated.
I try to use a variety of active learning instructional methods, inviting students to do things to help them learn, so that students are not ‘performing,’ but learning through performance. I steer my students toward these active learning methods through critical reflection. How did that feel? What was different? Is that comfortable? This works both in an individual voice lesson or coaching as well as in classroom performance courses, such as Musical Theatre Performance, where the students can collectively hear and witness through the learning of their classmates and the development of each voice.
Highest on my list of teaching goals is to create a highly inclusive learning environment, where students with a range of abilities, across intersecting social identities feel at home in the space. To sing powerfully and technically well, from the heart and spirit, requires incredible vulnerability, and I am mindful of the different learning styles and range of vocal abilities in each class. I believe that each student has the possibility of transforming and developing as musicians. In my experience students are more invested if they feel that the learning environment is caring, mutually supportive, yet rigorous and thought-provoking.
If all students can become more deeply connected to their bodies, minds, and spirits, in the pursuit of truth, then vocal, musical, and artistic excellence will follow, creating more beauty in the world.