Sample voice lesson:

 

Lesson Outline—Ellen (real name taken out)

 

1 hour voice lesson

 

  • Begin lesson with warm-ups

    • Scale degrees:  1-3-5-4-2-7-1-3-5-4-2-7-1

      • On [f] with a concentration on breath coordination andappoggio breath concepts—I had her put her fists on the sides of her torso so that she could feel the diaphragm and abdominals engaging, had her watch herself in the mirror so that she didn’t bounce her shoulders up and down, and so that her lips and her jaw were not separating the breath by moving but that it was her diaphragm and abdominals instead that were controlling the breath flow

      • On [v], the first 1-3-5-4-2-7-1 sung staccato and the second one sung legato, with continued emphasis on appoggiated singing

    • Scale degrees 1-3-5-3-1 sung on [a]-[a]-[o]-[o]-[a] and then on all [a] vowels

      • The [a]’s are sung in chest voice and the [o]’s are sung in head voice

      • This warmup is done to help coordinate the use of chest and head voice

    • Scale degrees:  1-3-5-8-10-8-10-8-10-8-5-3-1 on [a]

      • This warmup is an extension of the previous warmup and extends the amount of head voice used and incorporates some mixed voice as well

      • I had Ellen concentrate on creating enough space to make constructive sound in her warm-ups, a concept we discussed the week previously—I particularly asked her to open her mouth to make a taller [a] vowel, keep a half-yawn feel so that her soft palate would stay elevated and keep the sound forward and clean rather than swallowed and breathy

    • (1-3)-(5-8)-(10-8)-(5-3)-(1) legato, but grouped into pairs, sung on [ha] with an emphasis on taking out the [h] so that it is mostly an imaginary [h]

      • this exercise works on healthy head voice

      • I emphasize that this warmup should be sung as if Julia Childs was laughing at a dinner party, light, airy, clear, with proper constructive space and proper breath support

    • 5-1-5-1

      • this is a lower warm up done to relax the vocal cords and focuses on bringing mixed voice as low in a student’s range as possible

    • nine-note run

      • I had Ellen do this warm-up while waltzing to the tempo of the run

      • This warmup is done to work on agility in the voice, especially in the head voice

  • Repertoire work:

    • “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

      • this was the first week working on this song, and Ellen and I discussed using it as a recital piece

      • Ellen sang and played the piano through this song

      • I then had her sing through the song as I played it and had her focus on proper breathing techniques as she sang it

      • I asked her to play and sing this song separately for the next couple of weeks until the piano part was more solid and she could focus on the vocal aspect a little better

      • We worked on singing part of the song nasally and then forward because there was some trouble “singing out” in this song

      • I asked her to sing through this song with just the chords.  After we had done that, we worked on some spots where the vocal line did not fit into the chords, for example, there was a C major chord underneath a sung D and I showed her how the C and E around that note made the D tricky to find.  I asked her if she could play the guitar chords in the song and work on tuning some of those tricky pitches for the week

      • I also asked her to begin considering how each verse can be expressed differently in both the vocal line and in the piano line

    • “Se tu m’ami”

      • I had Ellen sing through this song as I played the piano part

      • This is a song that Ellen has been learning for a couple of months, so I had her express her character, mood, and situation as she sang

      • We fixed some diction issues

      • I had her sing some of the high parts on a siren and then on a siren that matched the pitches and then once again singing to make sure she would not strain up to those notes as she sang them

    • “You Found Me” sung by, Kelly Clarkson

      • I had Ellen sing through this song as I played the piano part

      • This song is also an older piece in her repertoire, so I had her stand and express the story she had thought up with this piece

      • We worked on “fake” belting by having her sing her high notes in a more forward and nasally position to prevent vocal weariness and possible injury

  • At the end of the lesson, we talked about what she should be practicing for the week and what songs we were going to have her sing for the recital (“Come Thou Fount” and “Sabra Girl”)

 

*  Ellen is a sophomore in high school.  She plans on beginning choir next year, when she is a junior.  She comes from a very musical family, her father plays both the piano and the guitar and she and her sisters are at the intermediate level in piano lessons. Ellen has excellent intonation, which I have tried to further develop by having her sight-sing songs out of hymnals.  She is currently working on making her sound clearer by creating resonating space further in the front of her mouth and nasal cavities and by creating a sound with little to no breathiness. Ellen has a huge variety of musical interests, from classical, to Irish folk music, to Broadway, to popular music and I am emphasizing the use of healthy classical technique in all of those genres of singing.  I have been teaching her since July of 2011 and hope to continue with her until she graduates high school.  She loves lessons and her mother is constantly emailing me about how much she looks forward to singing lessons each week.

 

Sample Piano Lesson:

 

Lesson outline—Valerie (real name taken out)

 

  • 1 hour lesson:

  • Check in with Valerie’s practicing by asking how many days she was able to practice and how she practiced during the week

  • Begin with scales, arpeggios and chord progressions

    • scale work

      • C scale one octave, RH and LH together, parallel motion

      • G scale one octave, RH and LH together, parallel motion

      • D scale one octave, RH then LH, then RH and LH together

      • A scale one octave, RH then LH, then RH and LH together

    • arpeggio work

      • C arpeggio, five octaves

      • G arpeggio, five octaves

      • D arpeggio, five octaves

      • A arpeggio, five octaves

      • these arpeggios were done once silently, once counting to 3 and then tried with a metronome. The goal is to have her play these arpeggios with no pauses and then gradually pick up the playing speed once the arpeggios can be played smoothly at a slower pace

    • chord progressions

      • C major chord progression, RH and LH together

      • G major chord progression, RH then LH, then RH and LH together

      • D major chord progression, RH then LH

    • major-minor work

      • Ask Valerie to play a C major triad and then to make it minor, then G, D, and A triads

  • Continue lesson with work out of Faber and Faber’s Piano Adventures:  Lesson Book:  Primer Level

    • “Hey Mr. Half Note Dot”

      • play through song and count out loud

      • play song with teacher duet

      • check off the song as done

    • “Alouette”

      • play through song on saying the note values. For example, mm. 1-2 would be “half note dot, quarter, half note, half note”

      • play through song and count

      • assign playing and counting through the song as homework with the goal of playing the teacher duet the next week

    • Talk through the concept of the grand staff

      • treble clef and the treble sign—show Valerie the “G” that the treble clef represents and then how she can easily find G on the treble clef by using the treble sign

      • bass clef and bass sign—do the same as with the treble sign except show her that it makes and “F” and that a bass F can be found easily using that method

      • make up mnemonic devices to remember treble and bass clef space and line notes—“FACE,” “Elvis’s guitar broke down Friday,” etc.

      • talk about how LH usually plays the bass clef and RH usually plays the treble clef

    • play through “Middle C March”

      • discuss the concept of middle C being in between the treble and bass clefs

      • play through the song and count out loud

      • no need to assign this song for homework

    • play through “A Ten-Second Song”

      • discuss the concept of a melodic fifth interval

      • have Valerie play through the song and say the intervals out loud, for example, mm. 1 and 2 would be “C, same, same, same, up a fifth, same, same…”

      • have Valerie play through the song and say the note names out loud

      • have Valerie play through the song and say the note values

        • assign this as homework for the week

  • play through the entire song, “Für Elise” for fun

    • Valerie told me she brought her keyboard to cheer practice and played this song for her cheer coach this week.  She also went to her old school and visited her old music teacher and played this song for her as well this week.

  • Work on recital piece, “Plaisir d’Amour” from Alfred’s Recital Book, Level 2

    • play through the part of the song that Valerie practiced for the week (mm. 1-8 and mm. 13-16)

    • play through the rest of the RH part to end of song

    • play through the rest of the LH part to end of song

    • work on mm. 9-10 with LH, then RH, then LH and RH together

    • play tic-tac-toe where Valerie must play through those two measures without making any mistake to get an X (for excellent).  She must get three perfect plays in a row and then one more to win.  If she makes a “blooper,” the teacher gets an O for “oops” and the student must play through the excerpt again

    • play through the entire song with those new measures learned

    • work on mm. 11-12 with LH, then RH, then LH and RH together

    • play through the entire song with repeat

    • assign playing through the song and focusing on spots in the song with pauses to be played without pauses for the next lesson

  • Finish up by summarizing the homework for the week, giving Valerie a sticker for a good lesson, talk to her mom about recital dates and recital choices.

           

*Valerie has been taking lessons from me since June of 2011.  She is in the third grade. She has no previous experience with private piano lessons before taking lessons with me and is not from an extremely musical family. She is highly self-motivated to practice and has recently asked to take even longer practices.  She has gone from half hour to full hour lessons in the past week.  She has been learning some songs by rote and others by sheet music.  After five months of lessons, she can do C, G, D, and A major one octave scales, C, G, D, and A major five octave arpeggios in root position, C-F6/4-C-G6-C, G-C6/4-G-D6-G and D-G6/4-D-A6-G chord progressions, can convert C, G, D, and A triads from major to minor, can read eighth notes accurately and can find any key, sharp, flat or natural, on the keyboard.  She can also express dynamic markings, differentiate between ties and slurs, staccato and legato, as well as other piano markings such as repeats, fermatas, rests, accents, sharp, flat and natural signs, etc.

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • TikTok

Email Highlands Ranch Music Lessons: highlandsranchmusiclessons@gmail.com

Call Highlands Ranch Music Lessons: 303-597-6802

© 2020 by Highlands Ranch Music Lessons, LLC