Preparing for Lessons
Things to have with you during lessons
1. You. Try to be present in the lesson if possible, sometimes we do just get distracted and that's completely chill but it will make our time less effective if your primary focus is elsewhere.
2. A microphone suitable for online communication, we don't need anything snazzy or top of the line, but it can get harder to effectively listen to you if your microphone is too muffled or has persistent issues.
3. A glass/bottle etc of water, staying hydrated during a lesson is a good thing to do and may make voice work easier, even if its just a placebo.
4. A semi filled glass of water (think 3-4 cm) and a small straw (bonus points if you get straws of various sizes, but smaller the better generally). We may use these for Semi-occluded-vocal-tract exercises in selectively applicable situations. SOVTEs can also generally be good for helping to support good vocal health so having the tools do carry a variety of them out can be beneficial anyway.
5. I hesitate to say these ones because they may not always be useful, but you may want things like a brown noise generator on your phone, this isn't a super super common need but if need for one does come up it helps to save time if you have one installed, so its a good thing to have just in case. And you may also want a real time pitch monitor app on your phone e.g. nail the pitch (which can be found on both apple and android). Remember that while we can use apps to facilitate training they can't effectively be used as a replacement for training our ears or do the work for us, so whenever using an app try to think about relating it back to improving our other skills.
Getting the most out of practice
Practice is a pretty nebulous topic and getting all caught up in "should I learn this before I start practising", "should i try to practice for x amount of time" and similar thoughts are pretty common so I want to provide you with the very first and most important thing when it comes to practice, actually using our voices is the most important and most valuable step. Practice is a pretty important way of normalising progress and making sure it doesn't slip. But more than this, practice is the best time to apply the things we learn in lessons, we can of course spend time practising in lessons, but a large part of making progress is by exploring in your own time and making progress like that. This being said, when we approach practice there are some pretty important things to note, we don't want practice to be an arduous endeavour. Taking 30 seconds here and there can be (and often is) more valuable than spending 30 minutes grinding a behaviour. We should try to make practice fun and inherently make our practice failure proof by focusing on improving control and by leaning into learning strategies that reinforce control like, spaced repetition. We don't really want to schedule practice, we want it to be more spontaneous and fun. This being said if you take lessons with me it could be good to take notes of what you've practised on a day, maybe even a 10 word note to yourself on anything you played with for 20 seconds, so u can keep it in your mind and so we can talk about how practice was for you during the week. Probably aiming for at least a 30 second practice window on any given day.
And one last thing, thinking about our goals in practice, and how to relate them back to what we are aiming to do. In this scenario below the idea is that we want to contextualise resonance practice as much as possible within speech as it can tend to go awry otherwise.
An example of this would be.
Okay I'm doing big dig small dog exercise, first thinking why am I doing this? Okay so I'm working on resonance.
How can I further relate this back to speech? Okay so I could try whispering words? Yeah let's do that. (or u could use a vowel)
Okay how else can I make this more speech like, oh I could add voice?
If I can add voice, can I try speech?
Okay I've added speech but it wants to drop in resonance.
If I want to relate it back to speech maybe I can try practising resonance modification in speech
On a related note, I want to highlight that we aren't always going for absolute maximums in things like pitch resonance and weight, we may want to be able to get to those things, but most voices are not based in those spaces. And often times if you do try to leave these things locked to their maximums the voice can sound off or stilted.
Good hydration is a pretty relevant topic when it comes to using voice, its not necessarily a make or break but it does set us up for success to make sure that we are well hydrated when doing any voice work. For this reason it is preferable to be well hydrated for lessons. One thing to note is that after drinking water its first impacts will be felt after about 20 minutes but the full effects are only fully realised after around 4 hours, what this means is that we should aim to be consistently well hydrated if at all possible.
You may see things that give you more immediate hydration e.g. a vocal steamer, being in the shower etc. However, these things are considered superficial hydration and unlikely to net the full benefits. The benefits of hydration are somewhat two-fold, in that it can make us more resistant to fatigue as well as making it potentially easier to reach the vocal behaviours we are looking for.
Vocal Goals and Mimicry
So, there's not a ton to say here, beyond having vocal goals can be helpful. There's no need to have a distinct voice you want to get to, but having a rough ballpark can be useful for us to contextualise the way we approach certain things. Having a few examples of the general vibe we are looking for could be pretty good if its going into our first session, as we can have a talk about goals and expectations this way, as well as highlight that. This is not to say that you need to have concrete vocal goals. Having shifting vocal goals is also entirely valid, I myself do not have a ton of super focused vocal goals. If you aren't sure about the a specific voice or voice type maybe start thinking about what sorts of voices catch your interest.
In a similar ish(but different) vein to vocal goals is mimicry. Mimicry is a great tool to incorporate into our practice, and is a great way for us to explore lots of stuff in a low stress way. Mimicry is best paired with a Laissez-faire approach, we aren't going for perfect impersonations, we are just going for a rough estimation and maybe a little bit of reflection as we go, our main emphasis here is on fun and trying new things.
Would you like your lesson recorded?
From a teacher standpoint I do believe that opting for a recording is typically beneficial but in the end it's up to you about whether you would like your recording to be taken.
When recordings are taken they are done using the Craig discord bot. This does mean, that 100% security of the recording can't be 100% guaranteed, so please bear this in mind when deciding whether to opt for a recording.
What happens to recordings?
Two things happen: First, I download and process them, at this stage I keep a copy for myself so that I can use it to improve my teaching. This recording may be shared with other teachers so I can get feedback on my teaching. Second, the recording can be put up in the server, when its put in the server, it gets put in a channel that you have control over. You can control who can see it (within the limits of discord's permissions i.e. staff can see it).
You will be asked at the start of your lesson whether you would like your lesson to be recorded. Recording will only happen if you indicate you would like the session to be recorded.