1.) The first lesson will involve the creation of a detailed profile of the student, outlining their background through to their preferred listening and performing genres (often different – one may enjoy listening to classical but wish to learn how to play soul music) and a variety of other useful pieces of information acquired during a short interview to be held at the start of the first lesson. This information should also include other skills, which may be used for analogies and metaphor by the tutor to better connect musical concepts to similar/familiar experiences.
This process also serves as an icebreaker of sorts, swiftly initiating a bond between student and tutor. It is highly useful in the first lesson for singing students as it can prevent nerves and discomfort for the student by avoiding the need for them to sing in these first tentative moments.
Questions necessary to gain the appropriate information of the professional student’s status during the first session:
1.) What is generally the intensity of their performances?
- Packed ticketed Concert hall
- Loud Hotel/Bar
- Small quiet Cafe
- Indoor/Outdoor etc.
2.) How frequently does the student perform and for how long?
- Between one to five performances a week: 1 – 5 x sets.
- Fortnightly: 1 – 5 x sets.
- Monthly: 1 – 5 x sets.
3.) Which genre/s of music are they performing?
- World music
- Roots: Blues/Soul/Funk/Reggae/
- Pop – Commercially produced music: backing or live
There are numerous genres and sub-genres, which all involve different levels of skill, focus, technique and energy. Each genre and sub-genre has specific elements, which need to be monitored, assessed, nurtured and developed.
4.) Which areas do they personally and professionally believe they need assistance and guidance in?
The major difference between a professional student and a developing student is that the professional will usually have a clear idea of the elements they need to strengthen and techniques they wish to study and master, in order to better their performance.
**Note** It is important to recognise that professional students already have a momentum to their learning pathway and they will often have specific needs and learning styles. It is crucial the tutor is aware of the student’s level of professionalism. Some students may only need guidance and ideas whereas others will need technical implementation.
Stages and elements of professional performing artists include:
Composition and/or Song/Piece selection
Inspiration, Themes, Story, Poetry, Arrangement,
Patterns, Innovation, Personality
Technical skills, Creativity, Feel, repertoire And genre, intended audience
Optimising time, Working together, Re-Arrangement, Production and effects
Performance Preparation: Material & Self (diet, sleep, etc.), Nerves, Connection to Audience & Ensemble, Technology
Preparation, Repetition/Development, Perspective and Motivation/meaning/intention and Audience/recipients
Endurance, Repetition, Closeness to Others – Mediation and Meditation, Diet, Isolation, sleep, making use of the Experience: writing/creating,
2.) Following lessons will be determined greatly by the requests of the student. Professionals are usually (not always) aware of their areas of strength and weakness and are often very specific about what they wish to learn.
Basic framework for a Professional student lesson should be something like this:
1. Revision of previous lesson
2. Questioning the student about any requests: Skills, Theory etc.
3. Stated outcomes for this lesson based on requests or tutors planned curriculum or improvised outcomes based on students request as above.
4. Practical warm up and technical exercises.
5. Repertoire work with a focus on elements previously addressed and assessment of areas of strength and development.
6. Revision of session and suggestion of techniques / skills / theory to implement over the following week of practice / rehearsal / performance.
It is also important that there is a focus on imparting techniques of preservation to the professional, because often their livelihood is at stake from their performance. Preservation of the vocal folds for a singer especially, is crucial. Other dangers for instrumental musicians include RSI and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which if not addressed and the correct techniques implemented, can result in severe medical conditions and sometimes permanent disability causing the cessation of any further practical performance.
It is the role of the tutor to instill a strong preservative work practice. It is the role of the student to maintain professional practice of these preservative techniques.
TERM (6 month) OUTLINE
This will involve the incorporation of the student's existing repertoire pieces and new study pieces, which will further enhance their skill-set and add new options to their performance.
Professionals will tend to be geared towards certain genres and will often wish to achieve very specific targets and goals. The skills acquired in lessons will most likely be implemented swiftly, almost immediately in some cases, so it is essential that the tutor is able to quickly recognise the best techniques/exercises and study pieces for the professional student.
Many professionals will be seeking new information, as they often will have experienced and implemented methodologies and techniques of previous tutors/coaches/colleagues etc. and need fresh stimulation to motivate them.
Professionals usually have a fast theoretical comprehension, which allows the tutor to move steadily on to practical exercises, once theoretical principles are explained. The main assistance in the case of the professional student is their constant immediate opportunity to practice the suggested techniques and methods in their performances, which are often weekly or even multiple times a week. This means that they are more likely to assess for themselves, what is working for them and that which isn’t.
Tutors will often find that they will need to be more mercurial and flexible with their intended learning pathways for professional students. Having a structure to the lessons is essential however so to is the ability to improvise within the realm of knowledge and skills requested by the student. More experienced tutors are usually required for this process, as they will have a greater amount of resources from which to draw and a greater understanding of how to interpret their students needs.
At the conclusion of 6 month Alla's will issue a 'Student Progress Report', which includes an assessment of the following aspects:
- Technical ability,
- Musicality Expressions,
- Aural skills,
- General knowledge.
Also included in the term progress report is the level of enthusiasm
1.) During class and
2.) At home.
Professionals are likely to set their own goals however tutors will implement goals and marker points for professional students to keep the development steady and growth constant. An example goal for the professional student may be to acquire a specific skills such as:
- Three octave arpeggios,
- Mastery of a piece one level higher than the one at which they are already,
- An expansion of lung capacity or range,
- A more powerful projection or many others.
It is recommended that professional students are given a full revision of their year of training so as to gain greater insight into their growth and to remind them of any areas in which they may not have focused. This is essential to the progress of a professional and is assisted by delivering their profile to them on a half-yearly and full-yearly basis, so that they may comprehend it all in their own time.
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