Teaching singing is an art as well as a vocation. At its best, it can be one of the most creative, challenging and rewarding professions. These principles and goals represent my “persona” as a voice teacher (i.e., my teaching philosophy). They are as follows:
1) Be enthusiastic! Exude the kind of excitement for the art of singing and for the process of vocal discovery that is desired from the student. I have found that students, regardless of age or skill level, respond best to positive energy. On many occasions I have been pleasantly surprised when an unresponsive student has a sudden change of attitude and/or burst of progress as a result of being encouraged. Of course, high standards must be fostered through organized instruction, criticism, and discipline, but they are best achieved in a paradigm that includes the whole person—body, mind, and spirit. Therefore, providing an atmosphere of positive energy, both for the individual student and for the art of singing, is paramount with each student who enters my studio.
2) Approach each case individually. No two personalities or voices are exactly alike. While certain fundamental principles apply to all voices, there are infinite ways to achieve desired results from individual students. My “method” then is that I have a different and flexible approach with each student, tailored to that individual’s learning style, personality, and unique vocal qualities. My approach is essentially holistic and creative in style.
3) Establish and maintain a solid foundation in technique based on principles of efficiency, coordination, flexibility and natural sound production. This is the most important goal after establishing a good rapport with the student.
4) Foster musicianship and creativity on a high level. Good musicianship is inseparable from good technique, and vice-versa; each enhances the other. Singing is “energy in motion, stimulated by e-motion.” (Thomas Houser, Ph.D.)
5) Strive to instill confidence and self-reliance. These qualities are imperative for any successful singer and musician.
6) Incorporate kinesthetic awareness and structural alignment for optimal performance based on concepts taken from Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, and Yoga.
7) Send students out from every lesson vocally stronger than when they arrived, feeling confident and motivated.
In the years that I have had the privilege of teaching singing, I have found several principles and goals that I try to keep in mind as I work with singers, regardless of their skill level, age, or background.
©Jeffrey D. Ballard.