There are stages to learning anything new and learning to sing or play an instrument is no different. There are three distinctive cycles that we all go through when learning something new:
- Peaks: Where we can immediately understand and begin putting into practice everything that we are learning.
- Valleys: Where we struggle with each and every new concept and we have difficulty putting things into practice. At this stage it’s a challenge to understand anything new because it feels that we just don’t “get it”.
- Plateaus: This part of the cycle is very frustrating. We’ve been disciplined about our practice routine, we understand the concept, we’re putting it into practice, but, we’re not progressing.
We understand the frustration which is why we want to address the final two points. Although they feel very different when we’re experiencing them, the solutions are the same.
I. You’re not receiving the proper guidance.
Just like when a doctor is not giving you the right medicine, your music teacher might be not providing you the right solution too!
How to get to the right solution, you ask. Well, simply to do a thorough and details diagnosis!
Whether you’re having trouble singing a certain note, coordinating a particular rhythm, or performing a certain phrase, there is always a root issue. Understanding the root of the problem will allow you to create a practice routine that will keep you improving effectively and efficiently. As people say:
“If we name it, we can tame it!”
We impart and diagnose using this model – S.K.T.™
1. Sense: In areas of pitch and rhythm.
Are you connecting to the music in you?
2. Knowledge: In areas of understanding the theories behind of what you are singing/playing.
Do you know what you are doing?
3. Technicality: In areas of muscles, practical coordination.
Are you muscles agile enough to execute the instrument?
Once we can identify your plateau is resulting in either of the above areas, we will be able to provide you the solution, so that you can get pass to your next advancement in the shortest time!
II. Singing/Playing is not fun anymore.
Why do we decide to try something new? Because, we thought that it would be fun. And, whether we are a child, teenager or an adult; we are motivated by enjoying what we’re doing.
Playing an instrument or singing a song is fun. Learning to play the instrument or learning to sing the song can be fun but it does take work. For some of us, it’s work that we want to do. But, even the most motivated student has his moments of self doubt, laziness and disappointment.
Work, is not a bad word. It’s how we get better and then feel the enjoyment and satisfaction of accomplishment. The challenge here is to make the work fun.
- Have a backing track for your scalings: Singing/playing the scales all by yourself is boring. Have a backing track to sing/play along with your scales makes it much more enjoyable!
- Practice together with a group of like-minded: Just like exercising, it is much more motivating if you do so with an exercise buddy. You should do the same with your music practices! Learn with friends and practice together.
- Be an active music listener and not passive:
You are listening to songs every day, but many are just doing so passively. Be an active listener! This means, you tap the rhythm along, practice your fingerings along, hum along with MINDFULNESS. This way, you improve your music senses, little muscles (finger, vocal cords) by doing these little things alongside with your daily activities!
Be creative – You can turn your practice session into something enjoyable that you look forward to rather than a chore that you need to get out of the way.
III. What are your goals?
Practice sessions and teaching sessions need to be goal oriented. Unfortunately, practice sessions are time oriented. For example; the teacher, your parents, or friends may ask you some version of the following questions:
• Did you practice?
• How much time did you practice?
• How often did you practice?
These questions are geared towards how much time you put in rather than what you actually accomplished.
The goal may be to sing well. But, that is not the goal of the practice session. Singing well is the result.
We need to focus on the specifics of the lesson, the practice session, etc. in order to sing well.
We can begin by focusing on a clearer, more specific goal: “I want to sing my favourite song”.
What will it take to accomplish that?
Let’s break that down into smaller goals. I want to sing my favourite song:
• In pitch
• With control
• In front of an audience
• On stage
• In a competition
Then, you can break it down further. What would it take to sing in pitch? Our goal for this practice session can be to sing the opening line in pitch. Then work on the first verse, then the first verse in pitch with control, etc.
You get the idea. By accomplishing the smaller goals, you achieve the bigger goal of becoming a better singer.
At Hark Music, we take into consideration every aspect of the learning process, that’s why we offer:
- A standardised syllabus and proven program called the S.K.T.™model that prepares our coaches to better work with students.
- We create backing tracks and offer creative methods for students to work on lessons and techniques.
- We offer many events for students to maintain their motivation by achieving specific milestones. For example, our monthly OpenStage event and annual intramural singing contest offer students the opportunity to participate in a significant performance within an encouraging setting.