We’re back in the saddle again. That’s right, divas. We are back. Happy Micro Action Monday! I hope that you’re having a beautiful day. And today we’re talking about lessons. We’re talking about voice instructors. I wanted to go through what I think about are some great questions you should ask before working with the teacher.
Your micro action for today is to ask your instructor questions before you get started.
This micro action helps you have the best experience together. Let’s talk about what that means. This breaks down into a couple of key areas. The first one being logistics.
Ask questions about logistics
I want you to ask questions like:
- Where do we meet?
- How do I pay you how often are we meeting?
- How do I get signed up for lessons?
- Does this lesson happen at the same time, every week?
- Am I expected to sign up for every lesson that I want to take with you?
- Can I pay you through Venmo? Or do I need to write a check?
Most of these things are going to be covered by the teacher because that’s their business and they want to make sure that onboarding you as a student is easy and efficient. Sometimes there are going to be things that you need to know more about. Your job is to ask questions in that moment about logistics. I want you to go in asking yourself, “Okay, do I know how this process is going to work every time?”
Ask questions about style
One of the areas for questions is regarding style. You can segue from logistics to style with a question like, “What can I expect the flow of a lesson to be?” This might encourage the teacher to tell you about the arc or format of the way they teach lessons. They might tell you, “Oh, well, I really like to start with warmups” or “I expect you to have repertoire that we’re going to work on” or “I expect you to have different repertoire every single time.” They might say, “I’m going to spend more time on technique” or “This is how I like to work with students on their repertoire.” This is an important question to to ask because this is really what you’re going to them for.
These types of questions help you determine if you are going to get what you need out of this professional relationship. Asking about logistics and style really help you know whether or not this is going to be the right situation or if you’re just going to be studying with someone who might be fantastic at what they do. But the what they do is not the right thing for you. And vice versa. You’re not going to be a great student in their studio, if you’re expecting different things but you haven’t communicated about what those expectations are. This is an important time to communicate together clearly and effectively about your shared expectations. Another question about shared expectations and potentially related to the teacher’s style might just be,
- What are the ways that you like to communicate feedback to students?
- What are some of the ways that you help students understand what they need to work on?
This line of questioning can help you determine whether they’re a “growth mindset” type of teacher. Plus, understanding communication styles with your instructor can make a huge difference in your progress.
Perhaps you could ask, “Would your students say that you’re a tough teacher or an easy teacher?” That can be a tricky question, undoubtedly. But if you ask it like that, then you’re going to get more information from them such as, “my students tend to think that I have high expectations or high standards in the studio.” This open the door for you to ask, “Can you tell me a little bit more about what your standards are or what you expect of your students?” That is golden information that helps you know how to show up.
If you’re interested in questions that will help you get the most out of your work together. You might want to ask about what they recommend for you outside of lessons or in-between lessons.
- What can I do in between lessons?
- What can I do for lessons to make sure that I have the best experience in the studio?
- What kinds of practice strategies do you recommend for your students?
Research their credentials
You may want to ask about another area, which is credentials. I generally encourage this line of inquiry to be done as research before you meet with a prospective teacher. However, it always helps to talk to them and ask them. You could try:
- Will you tell me a little bit more about your background and your experience?
- You can ask them about where they’ve performed or who they’ve worked with based on the research you’ve already done.
- What are their main influences when it comes to teaching or pedagogy?
That can be very, very helpful for you and understanding what kinds of lessons they’re going to want to impart on you. This might also help you understand if they’ve only worked in a particular niche and whether or not they have the knowledge to help you in the various skills, styles, or methods you’re desiring. This also requires that you understand what your intentions and goals are. Feel free to ask them if they are able to give you information based on your goals and the things you want to work on. With that, you’re going to head into a much more fruitful relationship together.
A lot of this just comes down to expectations. With expectations clearly laid out ahead of time, you can jump into every single lesson together moving forward or making progress because you’ve already outlined the goals.
Ask questions about markers for success
Speaking of outlining the goals, my fourth area is markers for success. I want you to ask a potential voice teacher,
- What are your markers for success?
- How do I know that I’m being successful in your studio?
- How do I know that I’m being successful in our work together?
Are your markers for success different than their markers for success? That doesn’t mean that’s the end of that relationship. It means find out more about what that looks like. Say a teacher is very gung-ho about competitions and they’re going to want you to compete in any type of competition as a marker of success. But if that’s not your jam, and you’re thinking, “I am not planning to ever compete in anything.” That is definitely something that you’ll want to talk about together and say, “Okay, well, if that’s not my value, what are other markers of success that you and I can both look towards?”
Okay, divas. I’m sure that you have great questions that you ask your voice teachers or you ask before you start working with someone. I would love to hear about it. As always hit me up on social media. You know how to find me at @mezzoihnen. I love hearing about this from you because it helps me think about any of the areas that I might have some gray area or some growth area for myself. So, I really want to hear about that from you. What are the questions that have really helped you when embarking on a professional relationship with a teacher? What are the lines of inquiry that have been helpful and impactful? I want to know about it.