Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Online Teacher Survey

My answers from an online survey for music teachers at

What instruments do you teach? what styles and levels?

1. Voice: beginner to advanced, pop, jazz, classical, theater
2. Piano/Keyboards: beginner to intermediate, classical, improvisation
3. Composition & Songwriting: beginner to advanced, pop, jazz, classical, theater

Which teaching methods/materials do you prefer to use?

Sheet music books in styles that the student enjoys.
Scales, arpeggios and improvisations in many keys.
Short lessons with concert date deadlines to encourage practice.

What would you do, ask, demonstrate, assign on a first lesson with a beginning student?

I'd keep the student singing and stretching skill at a good pace the entire 45 minutes (or 20 minutes for youth or short lessons).

"Hi! Let's get right to work. What would you like to achieve today?"

"Great.. Let's go for that. and I want us to ______ for you, too. Did you warm up today?" (do one for 7 minutes or more if not done)

"Let's have you sing a song, then."
(We choose an easy one in the style they like, they sing with me playing, or karaoke style)

"With that song, I heard this____, that____, and these ___ right. Those _____ and them ____ could be better. Sing again, and let's fix those."
"Here's an exercise to do to help that: _________."
"Do it again for me...and again... That is better.. and keep that as homework".

(as often as necessary:)
"Let's address another issue: try this ____________. and again, fixing ______"

(near lesson end:)
"Nearly done for today. I wanted you to this___ that___ and these ____ better, and you are! You'd wanted to ______. Is that better for you?"

"Your next lesson should be on [date]. Before that deadline, your homework is _______ with the result that you can _______. Sound good to you?"

"Great! Good job, gold-star work today! See you next time."

What makes you a good teacher?

Enthusiasm. Breadth. Patience. Trustworthiness.

How do we sell you to students that are interested in lessons? Career highlights, etc.

Gary coaches all levels. He's great with beginners, even teaching the very basics that get overlooked. He's on contract for some professional singers and the top choirs in Oregon. If anyone can, he can get you to do what you are hoping to do.

Any gigging, sessions, trips, or family issues, etc. that may interrupt your weekly teaching schedule?

I successfully teach voice online to students all over the world via My current online private students cluster to Monday and Friday.

I have contracts with the Oregon Symphony Choir, the Barbershop Harmony Society and the Lutheran Church that consume many of my Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, Sunday morning and scattered gig dates.

There is more questions and answers, but those answers are in my website resume.

Yours, Gary

Singing in the Car

Dear Gary,

I'm trying to do the "45 minutes 3 times a week thing" to improve my voice.
Any time I drive alone I sing along with my cd's and will certainly keep up that practice adding a practice or two at home. I don't have a piano so I was wondering are there any cd's available for practicing scales etc? If so where might I find one and is there any particular one you would recommend?


Hi Holly!

You ask great questions!

Singing in a car works to a point, but it's not my favorite. Personally, when I am concentrating on really singing, I am not a good driver. Since I'd rather keep myself and the other drivers safe, I don't usually count on or do car-singing as real singing except as a light warm-up.

There are thousands of CD's of scales and singing exercises out there, and I've not researched all of them. A singer's warm-up and training needs change almost week-to-week. The few times I've used an singing exercise CD, even a good one, I don't sing as well as I do when I'm singing at my own pace.

Listening and singing to song tracks recorded by good singers is a good tool, especially if the singer had mastered something you are trying to master, too. So, dig through your favorite CD's, put one in the player and sing along. It counts as a workout. Just... drive safely.

Yours, Gary