Expectations for Voice Lessons

Attendance

Students are expected to arrive on time to each lesson. Lessons missed by the student because of illness, emergency, vacation, or summer camps will be rescheduled at a mutually agreeable time. The teacher must be given at least 7 days notice for missed lessons due to vacation or summer camps. In the case of illness, if the school is not notified before the scheduled lesson time, the lesson will be forfeited. Lessons missed by the student for any other reason are forfeited. However, the teacher may occasionally make up other lessons missed by the student if sufficient notice is given and if the privilege is not abused. All such make-up lessons are at the sole discretion of the student’s teacher.

Practice

Consistent, focused practice using the voice lesson as the model is expected of each student. It is often best to actually schedule in practice time and make it part of the daily routine. If regular practice is not met, the teacher reserves the right to discontinue lessons. Parents and/or students are expected to log practice time on musicteacher.org. A keyboard to aid in practice at home is very important, especially as the student advances.

Lesson Behavior/Expectations

Students are expected to participate fully in the lesson with regard to exercises that are intended to aid in vocal production and improvement. No food, gum, or drink (except water) is allowed into the lesson. Disrespect for the teacher will at no time be tolerated. If behavior is not changed, the teacher reserves the right to discontinue lessons.

Books/Materials

The student/parent is expected to purchase books and music required by the teacher. Photocopied music will only be made available in extreme cases (i.e., backordered or out of print books).

Admission Requirements – Voice

Interview

Students and parents interested in lessons at the Kansas City School of Music must meet with the instructor in a private interview before lessons begin. This interview gives the students and parents a chance to ask questions and experience interaction with the teacher. It also gives the teacher the opportunity to listen to transfer students, and determine the best place to begin for their first lesson.

Age Requirements

The traditional age to begin vocal study is 13. However, we will allow students between ages 5 and 13 to take private voice lessons if they meet the following criteria:

  1. The student has had several years of piano instruction and is able to read music well, OR
  2. The student is willing to take piano lessons concurrently with voice lessons, OR
  3. The student must enroll in 45-minute voice lessons which will include basic piano instruction.

Admission of any student is at the sole discretion of the teacher. Please visit Voice Lessons for Young Childrenfor more information.

Instrument

All voice students at Kansas City School of Music are required to have a keyboard or piano at home to facilitate vocal practice.

Time Commitment and Practice

Students are responsible for their high quality practice every day. The length of daily practice may vary with the age and experience of the student. In general, anywhere from 30-45 minutes per day is expected.

Expectations

Students must commit to Expectations for Voice Lessons.

Voice Lessons for Young Children

Young children (ages 5 through 13) can benefit greatly from private voice lessons. Vocal instruction for children in this age group is structured much differently than for a teenager or adult. Their young voices and developing physique as well as their emotional and intellectual maturity must be taken into consideration during each lesson. Our teachers will customize the lesson plans specifically to the child’s age, personality, and goals.

What the Student Can Expect

First and foremost, the student will have fun and work hard. Progress does not happen quickly and does not happen without effort. Discovering the individuality of the student’s voice and learning how to use it properly, rather than the goal of an instant “perfect” voice, is the objective of each lesson.

The student will not be pushed to develop a more “mature” sound too quickly and will not be forced to sing a certain style of music, whether that be pop, musical theater, jazz, or opera. The natural voice will be preserved, nurtured, and developed at a pace that is appropriate for the student. Many children will want to emulate the sound of their favorite vocalist or even that of their teacher; however it is important that the child maintain an age appropriate sound and refrain from imitative singing. The vocal health of every voice student is paramount.

What the Teacher Expects

While we are passionate about teaching young children the joy of singing, we have a standard for acceptable behavior. Students must behave maturely, understand and take direction, and be willing to put forth one hundred percent effort at every lesson and practice session. Failure to uphold these standards during the lesson and during practice at home may result in the termination of lessons.

The Myths Behind the Young Voice

As mentioned previously, a child’s voice must be treated differently than that of a teenager or adult. Many voice instructors will not teach a student younger than 13 simply because they have no experience doing it. A child’s voice is constantly growing and changing, and the teacher must develop her teaching style to accommodate this. Once this happens, the child can flourish in a private lesson setting. The chance for children to explore their own voice and the music that can be expressed is a valuable experience that can produce joy, confidence, and freedom in a child’s life.

The concern that the small vocal muscles of young children are too fragile for serious private voice lessons is a prevalent outdated myth.  Of course children must not be taught as if training for an adult performance such as an opera or rock concert.  However, children are quite capable of learning the foundations of good singing such as good posture and breathing.  The instruction is gentle with a focus on how each vocal exercise feels physically.  It must be understood that the teacher is dealing with muscles and bones that are still developing, and sometimes, at varying rates.  Overuse and over-singing is never healthy, whether for an adult student or a child.  Again, patience and foresight must be exercised so that a balance can be struck between consistent progress and burdensome, potentially harmful, work.

Parental Involvement

It is crucial for parents to be involved in their child’s practice time at home. Young children often need constant reminders and guidance to fulfill the expectations set during their lessons. Parental involvement helps the child to follow the rules given by the teacher and to maximize efficiency during practice at home. This system ensures that the child is practicing correctly, and helps the child become motivated in learning about the voice.

Students are required to bring a notebook to every lesson so that notes can be taken on appropriate breathing, posture, and singing technique. These notes will help the student to re-create what they have learned in their lessons during their practice at home. Parents are required to sit in on lessons and supervise their child’s practice at home. Exceptions to this requirement may be made at the sole discretion of the teacher.

Parent/Teacher Interaction

During the Lesson

It is very important that the parent does not correct the child during the lesson, or answer questions directed to the child. The parent is welcome to address the instructor with questions, but should refrain from interacting with the student or teacher in any manner that undermines the teacher’s authority or in any other way detracts from the lesson.

Outside the Lesson

Parents should feel free to communicate with the instructor between lessons regarding any issues that concern them. It is better to solve problems immediately rather than waiting for the next lesson.

Getting Started: Successful Singing

Becoming a successful singer requires dedication and patience from both student and teacher. At Kansas City School of Music, our voice instructors have consistently shaped their students into great singers by providing them with the tools necessary to achieve their goals.

Practice at Home

The weekly voice lesson is the model for practice at home. Exercises and methods presented at the lesson should be recreated during daily practice. Focused practice requires a space where distractions are limited and a place where the student feels comfortable singing aloud. The amount of daily practice will be determined by the teacher based on the student’s age and experience level. The frequency and quality of practice is essential to progress and is foundational to becoming a successful singer.

Music Reading

All voice students will be expected to know or learn basic music reading and piano skills which are essential to the development of a well-rounded musician. Piano skills are especially important for singers to assist them in maintaining proper pitch. It is also helpful, and sometimes necessary, to play the melody on the piano when assigned new repertoire. Students deficient in these areas may be required to take 45-minute lessons since additional time will be necessary to teach these skills. Assignments for developing music reading and piano skills may also be included in daily practice at home.

Vocal Health

Our instructors’ goal is to provide each student with a healthy vocal technique that will serve as a solid foundation for a lifetime of successful singing. Voice lessons teach breathing, phonation, resonance, versatility, diction and musicianship. Within this structure the student will learn to know his/her own voice and how to produce beautiful sound with ease and freedom. The choice of repertoire will largely depend on the student’s voice and personal preferences and may include many styles such as musical theatre, art song, opera, jazz, blues, folk and country. Repertoire that is deemed unhealthy for the voice will not be allowed. Unhealthy vocal habits can be extremely difficult to break and can cause severe damage. Our instructors want students to enjoy music making through song and progress toward a healthy voice concurrently.

Parent/Teacher Interaction

Parents are always welcome to sit in on their child’s voice lessons, provided that the student feels comfortable and it does not distract from the instruction. Parents who do not sit in on lessons may communicate with the instructor regarding their child’s progress at any time. If there are concerns or questions on the part of the instructor or the parent, open communication is encouraged.

Piano Admission Requirements

  • Interview

Students and parents interested in lessons at the Kansas City School of Music must meet with the instructor in a private interview before lessons begin. This interview gives the students and parents a chance to ask questions and experience interaction with the teacher. It also gives the teacher the opportunity to listen to transfer students, and determine the best place to begin for their first lesson.

  • Parental involvement during lessons and at home
  • Consistent practice of 45 minutes per day
  • Well-maintained acoustic piano with bench for practice

An 88-key digital piano with fully weighted keys is acceptable for the first year of private piano instruction.

Transfer Students Read Me

A transfer student is one who has previously taken lessons, regardless of duration or any breaks in instruction. Transfer students make up a large portion of the student body at Kansas City School of Music. 

Students interested in transferring to Kansas City School of Music should read Admission Requirements. In addition, transfer students will likely be asked to show previous books used, demonstrate playing ability, and describe why they are looking for a new teacher.

At Kansas City School of Music we have very high standards for both teachers and students. We want to make sure that all foundational elements are present in the student’s knowledge and playing abilities before proceeding to more difficult areas. Because of this, there is a possibility that the teacher might spend some time reviewing and filling in gaps in knowledge and playing ability to ensure all areas are covered. Doing this will save time and frustration in the future. The decisions our teachers make are always in the best interest of the student.

Getting Started: Parental Involvement

Success at the piano requires not only a commitment from the student, but a huge commitment on the part of the parent. For preschool and elementary students, parents are required to sit in on lessons, take meticulous notes, and practice with their child at home. This system ensures that the child is practicing correctly, and helps the child become motivated in learning the instrument. Once the student becomes capable of independent practice, parents are encouraged to continue observing and taking notes at lessons.

Taking Notes

Detailed note-taking is imperative for the parent’s complete understanding of the content presented, and it enables the parent to replicate the principals conveyed at lessons. Taking detailed notes maximizes efficiency at the lesson. If the teacher takes notes, the student loses at least five minutes of valuable lesson time. Parents are expected to have a full-sized spiral notebook devoted to piano lessons. Typically, the notes from each lesson will fill a full page. In addition to the parent’s copious notes, the teacher may also address the parent with specific items to be written down. The weekly lesson is not intended solely for the child’s instruction, but also for the teacher to instruct the parent how to assist the child at home.

Practice at Home

The weekly piano lesson is the model for practice at home. Activities and methods presented at the lesson should be recreated during daily practice. The sense of teamwork is a great motivation because of the praise and encouragement that a parent can provide for the student.

Once a student is capable of independent practice, the parent is still expected to monitor practice on a regular basis.

Parent/Teacher Interaction

During the Lesson

It is very important that the parent does not correct the child during the lesson, or answer questions directed to the child. The parent is welcome to address the instructor with questions, but should refrain from interacting with the student or teacher in any manner that undermines the teacher’s authority or in any other way detracts from the lesson.

Outside the Lesson

Parents should feel free to communicate with the instructor between lessons regarding any issues that concern them. It is better to solve problems immediately rather than waiting for the next lesson.

Which Parent?

The parent who accompanies the child to the lesson needs to be the one involved daily with the student’s practice at home. The most important factor is not which parent has the most musical talent or experience, but rather, which parent is the most available to help with the student’s daily practice.

Expectations for Piano Lessons

Attendance

  • Students are expected to arrive on time for their lesson.
  • Lessons missed by the student because of illness, emergency, vacation, or summer camps will be rescheduled at a mutually agreeable time. The teacher must be given at least 7 days notice for missed lessons due to vacation or summer camps. In the case of illness, if the school is not notified before the scheduled lesson time, the lesson will be forfeited. Lessons missed by the student for any other reason are forfeited. However, the teacher may occasionally make up other lessons missed by the student if sufficient notice is given and if the privilege is not abused. All such make-up lessons are at the sole discretion of the student’s teacher.

Parental Involvement

  • For younger students, parents are expected to observe the lesson. This includes taking copious notes so that they may help their child with practice throughout the week. This will ensure the steady progress of the lessons.
  • Parents are also expected to help their young child practice at home. The teacher will remain in close contact with the parent and communicate when this is no longer necessary.
  • Parents are encouraged to get involved with their child’s piano lessons, regardless of their age.
  • More details on parental involvement

Practice

  • Consistent practice is expected of each student. It is often best to schedule practice time and make it part of the daily routine. If regular practice is not maintained, Kansas City School of Music reserves the right to discontinue lessons.
  • The parent is responsible for the child’s high quality practice 45 minutes per day, seven days per week.
  • A well-maintained piano to practice on at home is very important, especially as the student advances.
  • Electronic keyboards are unacceptable as the primary practice instrument. However, an 88-key digital piano with fully weighted keys is acceptable for the first year of private piano instruction.
  • The piano must be kept in an area free of distractions
  • Bench height and distance should be adjusted appropriately as discussed in lessons.
  • If the student’s feet do not touch the floor, a stool or box should be placed so that the feet are stabilized.

Lesson Behavior/Expectations

  • Nails are to be kept trimmed.
  • No food, gum, or drink (except water) is allowed into the lesson.
  • Parents are expected to support the teacher when student behavior is inappropriate.
  • Disrespect for the teacher will not be tolerated.

Books/Materials

  • Students are expected to purchase books and materials promptly. Failure to do so will affect the progress of the lessons.