Leena had studied with other teachers for about six years, loved Broadway musicals, and had memorized an enormous amount of material. Her mother reached out to me to help Leena overcome some vocal tension that had recently begun to affect the quality of her singing. Good listening “mom!”
Experience has taught me that a young student’s natural tendency to sing out with enthusiasm – often hampered by poorly written vocal material — can harm the developing voice. So, in our first lesson together, I asked Leena a lot of questions. I got her to sing a simple song, and then did more detailed work to find out her vocal range. It became clear that she had strained her voice doing a middle school musical. I examined her part, and immediately noticed its awkward lyric setting. Once Leena knew what to look for, she could deal with this challenge more easily and not strain.
It also turned out that Leena had stopped playing the piano. Once we had talked about how useful her piano skills could be, together we expanded her lesson time to include piano as well as singing. She learnt how to play the chords and melodies to the more lyrical songs I chose for her, and now she can accompany herself.