Voice Lessons Help Students Make New Habits Stick
Case Story: Janice learns to sing, but also learns how to build new habits, help them stick & have a whole lot of fun along the way
t it. Janice is a name I chose to represent many students that take lessons with me that realize their own power and agency to do good things for themselves and make permanent lifestyle changes in their life.
Janice started lessons with me in 7th grade. After a few lessons with her not having supplies or phrases learned, I asked her:
"Tell me what happens in a day in your life after this lesson. What classes do you have next? What do you do when you get home?"
As she went through her day, we worked together to look at every opportunity she had to memorize the next line in her song. She kept a piece of paper in her pocket with the lines of her song (schools often don't allow smartphones) and a photo on her phone outside of school so that she had many different ways to quiz herself on the words.
Then we set 3 to 4 different reminders (some that she came up with) based on where she would be and what she would be doing. One of the reminders that really worked for her was having her music right by her bedside so that as soon as the alarm went off, she spent 2min memorizing her song.
After going through a few different methods, Janice was coming into lessons excited and proud. This was the first time that she built a new habit on her own, looked at her obstacles, looked at her opportunities and did what mattered to her despite the challenges. Janice not only learned how to sing, but also how to build habits in an enjoyable way without the guilt or negative consequences but instead from a place of enjoyment and curiosity.
My goal is to teach kids their first song and some techniques to better their singing, but my other goal is to help them take charge of their own well-being.
With each middle school or high school student that I work with, there can be vastly different challenges that they are facing, particular in middle school. Some have been singing for a few years already and are performing their lead role in a musical, some our learning to match pitch (like me in middle school) and many are somewhere in the middle. When I'm working with 7th graders, they are often working towards learning how to take action on their own between lessons to learn their song. Most of their life, they have had either a teacher they see nearly every day and/or parents being the driving force to get their various assignments done.
What changes with lessons and what are the hidden benefits of this?
Instead of every day, they see me once a week. So in addition to helping them learn a song and the techniques to sing that song as well as they can for their current stage of development (and skill level, etc) I'm also teaching them how to start and maintain habits on their own.
Now wouldn't homework be a habit they are doing on their own? Yes...and no. When it comes to homework, they have a lot of consequences they face (bad grades, disappointed teacher/parents, etc). With voice lessons, my goal is to help them build habits because they want to be better, because it is a joy to sing.
To be human is to sing. If we go way back before smartphones, TVs, the industrial revolution, etc. everyone sang. They didn't sing because they were forced to sing, but because it was part of how they connected as a society or family, how they worshipped, how they celebrated life and how they processed tough emotions...among other things.
So singing is something that can be a life-long journey and passion, but in voice lessons we can also learn how to work towards things that can be permanent lifestyle changes...
Like exercise. Because many people approach exercise through the lens of conventional schooling "you need to do this OR ELSE" or "something is wrong with you and you can fix it with exercise" we are less likely to stick to a daily (or nearly daily) exercise routine.
By learning to sing, I was made aware of how fascinating, freeing and life-transforming learning to sing can be. If you study the science and art of singing, you are also by default studying movement. So when I approached exercise I not only was consistent in it, but I enjoyed it. It was an adventurous and fun study in human movement. This is what made me realize that anything we want to stick to for life, that has no official end point but is rather a lifestyle habit, will be easier to stick to if we:
A: Find ways to enjoy it.
B: Have a supportive mentor, friend, etc. that we are accountable to, but that we don't totally depend on.
C: Make it easier to stay consistent (like in my Guide to Consistency).
So not only does this help me in having kids stick to their singing practice, but it also gives them a new way to build habits and have it come from a better place. With this in mind, I'm going to be working on how we can, through singing, change our mindset towards learning not only singing, but many new skills in life. Learning can be joyful.
The Guide to Consistency is my first seeds planted toward that future guide and course, but until that's up, what do you think? Is this something you'd like me to work on? Drop a message below!
Questions? Comments? Let me know!