Online teaching isn’t so bad, after all. I might even be enjoying it!
—Alexandra Plattos Sulack
I will be honest - I wasn’t stoked about moving my whole studio online. My teaching is visceral, and I work with the energy in the room. My assumption was that I would lose the ability to have you (my wonderful students) move, and that I would lose the ability to collect, pass, and share energy.
I’ve taught online lessons before, but they have been mostly speech work. I thought singing lessons would be a totally different level of teaching, and I didn’t want to do that.
I’ve been 100% online for over four weeks now, and I have to admit—it’s actually pretty great. Here are five surprising take-aways:
1. You are THRIVING in this environment. Many of you, upon your first online lesson, made HUGE strides. I am blown away by the freedom and ease of your sound. We didn’t really do anything different from our in-studio lesson, but the way the information was presented and how you were able to consume it made a big difference. Perhaps, some of you feel more comfortable opening up online. It feels safe. Or, perhaps, you no longer have to worry about a commute, and therefore, are more relaxed coming into the lesson.
2. I can listen more intensely. I enjoy playing the piano, and I enjoy accompanying you in lessons. In an online environment, that is (currently) impossible because of the digital lag. I can play a few basic chords in almost real time, but while you are singing, I have the opportunity to just listen. I’ve found that my ears are able to pick up on subtleties in the sound, and we can work in a more detailed fashion. (Ahem, we can focus intensely on technique!)
3. EARTRAINING! Because I cannot accompany in real time, this requires you to generate, hear, and produce the notes on your end. This reinforces the internal ear, it encourages the brain to audiate, and it strengthens your ability to find the center of each and every pitch. A win-win-win-win-win!
4. We’ve still got the sillies! I, mistakenly, thought online lessons meant we had to be focused, serious, and get down to business. I’m finding that I can bring just as much play and silliness to online lessons as I do to in-studio lessons. But this time, I have ALL my props, costumes, and toys at my disposal. I’ve been having most of you blow bubbles and sing into a glass of water, so we’ve played around with different methods of keeping the water from splashing our eyes. Everyone is busting out the safety goggles or swim goggles (see exhibit A.)! One of you dubbed my lessons “constructive silliness”. I don’t think I could have come up with a more apt descriptor.
5. It’s working. I still miss seeing you all in person and being in the same room together. We are making music, and we are making technical strides. You are being pushed to learn in new ways, and I am being pushed to teach in new ways, and it’s all working.
These are tough times, and we are all in this together. By staying apart, we are protecting each other. I am grateful for your willingness to try out this new format, and I am grateful that we are all thriving. So, yes, online teaching isn’t so bad, after all. I might even be enjoying it!
We believe in combining technical and pedagogical expertise with a deep love of voice and singing. At The Voice Lab in Chicago, our teachers bring a diverse singing and voice care background ranging from operatic to pop, language studies, songwriting, and voice science research.