How Mentoring Can Be a Key Component of Vocal Education

As the new school year began, I shared my thoughts about teaching kids to sing. I know many of you are well underway in your lessons with students of many ages, and I wanted to share one of my recent experiences with you.

I feel that we sometimes underestimate the importance of mentoring. Having a good model to follow cements the things we learn and is valuable in every aspect of our education and development. And more to the point, mentoring goes beyond just a teacher – student relationship. I use this to my advantage whenever I can pair up younger singers with older ones.

How One Hour Changed Three Young Singers

I recently spent an hour with six girls. The three 14 year olds are a nearly professional level trio. Their pitch, blend, diction, phrasing and musical skills are exceptional. The three 11 year olds were skilled in acting and dance and one is a rapper. They were not accomplished soloists and had never had to harmonize or blend, however.

I paired each younger singer with an older sing of matching range. The older girls sang a 3-part song several times with their younger charge sitting right next to them—just watching and listening. Then I had the younger singers start joining in while being strongly coached by their mentor. After 15 minutes I had the older girls start singing with less and less volume until they were just lip syncing. I not sure when the young trio realized they were on their own, but they were great!

Why did this work? Three experienced teens invested in three willing students. The younger singers also did exactly what they were instructing without challenge or discussion. The mentoring will continue and we will shortly have two excellent trios.

Watch the Video

Here is a video of part of the session I describe above. It is really remarkable to listen to the less experienced singers grow in their ability right before your ears!

Have any of you had similar experiences? I’d love to hear about it. Send me a note using the Ask the Vocal Coach form.

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