When teaching, there are a variety of ways to set yourself up. Here are some suggestions and ideas to get you started. I am sure you will adapt and revise your set up as you go. Let me know if you have any useful suggestions to help others getting set up with their teaching studio!
Where Can I Set Up My Teaching Studio?
- Requires you create a suitable space
- You will need to keep work area neat and tidy and warn family members not to disturb you
- No commute!
- Fees can be lower, due to reduced overhead costs
- Make sure you feel safe with strangers coming into your home
- Consider the neighbours! Not ideal in a flat/apartment setting with thin walls
- Rent/mortgage is tax deductible – discuss this with an accountant
- Parking and access to public transport
A separate location E.g. teaching studio – solo or with others. Considerations:
- Gives a more professional impression
- More overhead costs: rent, utilities, internet etc.
- Your fees may need to be higher as you’ll need to take overhead costs into consideration.
- You’re not always in control of your environment e.g. noise from other businesses, heating / aircon.
- Parking and access to public transport if you need to commute.
Going to the student/client E.g. their home, a recording studio, performance venue. Considerations:
- Need to take travel into consideration when determining your fee and time commitment
- Check if student has keyboard/piano or if you will need to take one with you
- Not in control of your environment – you may find yourself warming a singer up in the men’s toilets (it happens!)
- You need to feel safe
At a school E.g. junior or high, music college/school! Considerations:
- Fees usually set by the school, usually lower than private teaching
- You will need some kind of police check or approval to work with children in some countries
- Students may not always be compliant or committed
- No control over teaching environment
- Lessons may be as short as 15-20mins
- Can be long hours with student after student all day
- You may need to get involved with report writing, exams or assessments
- No matter where you teach you need to ensure that you are covered by the right kind of insurance:
- Public liability
- Public indemnity
You may also want to consider insuring yourself for loss of income due to injury or illness. When working with children it is advisable to have documentation to show you have had some kind of criminal and working with children check.
Gear Needed For Your Teaching Studio
Piano/keyboard – 5 or more octaves: There are singing teachers who teach without a piano but I personally feel that this is inadequate especially if you are working on vocal technique such as developing the range, strength, stamina and transitional areas of the voice.I advise you have piano lessons to get your fingers around the basic scales if you don’t already know how to play the piano. With practice you will be amazed at how much more in control you are of a person’s voice. Scales along with vowel/consonant sounds are the staple building blocks of vocal development. If you are only working on style then piano may not be as essential. Some teachers use the guitar. Once again you should be able to play scales.
Computer with Internet access: These days it is almost impossible to run a business without a computer or Internet access. You will find email is a quick and easy way to communicate with students and potential students. Most singing teachers set up their own website in order to let people know of the service they offer. Bookings for lessons can also be made online though various means. For instance there is MusicTeachers helper that offers a fantastic and comprehensive service to help with record keeping, bookings, invoicing, practice log and even a free website for music teachers. If you decide to join then click promocode so you can get 20% off your first month.
Recording device e.g. MP3 recorder, Dictaphone, GarageBand: If you want your students to improve they will need to practice what you have taught them. No one can remember everything their teacher tells them, so record the lessons! Also if the student becomes despondent with their progress it’s great to have a record of where they started so they can listen back and realize there has been progress.
MP3 player/CD player and sound system/speakers: To play backings or listen to tracks the student wants to learn.
Clock: It is important to keep to time so you don’t run late or cut a lesson short. It is easy to lose track of time when you’re concentrating.
Mirror: Students sometimes need to see what they are doing to make changes or recognize they have an issue. Mirrors are good for postural issues, identifying tension, checking out the mouth, lips, tongue and jaw.
Tissues: [tweet_dis inject=”#iSingDoYou @linehilton”]Singing can be emotional and sometimes the singing lesson is a good place to off load.[/tweet_dis]
Telephone/mobile: You may want to have a work related number to separate work from private. Some students will take advantage of having your number so it’s good to know you can turn off the phone after hours.
Music stand: Um, for music? Or lyrics. Microphone/PA (especially for students interested in contemporary music styles: Learning to sing into a microphone and PA system is part of the contemporary singer’s education. Not so necessary for classical singers, though concert singers may need to know how to use a mic these days.
Metronome (available online and in App form): Keeping time is also important as a singer. Let’s stop those jokes about singers and their timekeeping.
Sheet music e.g. song books: Certain genres such as classical and musical theatre use sheet music a lot. This isn’t the case in contemporary genres but it’s still relevant. Local music stores, Amazon and is good resources for sheet music. The latter has an iPad app to download your sheet music, too, so that you can then transpose the music in the app. This is invaluable when a singer wants to sing the song in a different key!
Backing tracks (CD/ YouTube/Spotify): These days most popular songs have a backing version on YouTube. Occasionally you have to search harder, or find someone to create a backing. Obviously if you are a proficient pianist or guitarist then you can accompany the singer, but remember it is hard to then focus on the student’s voice and performance when you are focused on other things
Software to change key/ speed e.g Capo 2 (Mac), Pitch Switch (Windows): If you need to lower or raise the backing, these are useful tools. Another option is QuickTime 7.6 (free). Annoyingly the newer versions of QuickTime do not have this facility. QuickTime Instructions:
- Find and download QuickTime version 7.6
- Open program
- Go to WINDOW and select A/V Controls (Fig. 1)
The Pitch Shift changes the pitch without changing the speed of the music and Playback speed changes the tempo without changing the key of the music. The Key Change is limited to maximum 4 semitones (half-steps up or down), but that’s usually enough for most situations.(Fig. 2)