Chad Runyon is an award-winning vocal performer, conductor, and instructor.

Posted March 19th, 2020
Filed under Essays

Virtual Voice Lesson Benefits and How To’s

A virtual lesson is a voice lesson via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Google Hang Outs and the like.

Benefits of a Virtual Lesson:

1) No commute.  Coming or Going.

2) The screen offers distance, allowing student/teacher to look at each other on a screen which can feel less awkward than they might in person.

3) Since the video focuses on the face, we can hone in on mouth shape and facial expression.

4) More and more auditions are being conducted by video.  FaceTime or similar is good practice.

5) The student has to sing without the crutch of the piano.  I demonstrate more and play less while the student sings more.  Due to the delay in sound, it doesn’t work if we try to play/sing together.

6) As teacher, I have a window into the student’s at-home practice habits.  This allows me to make suggestions on how to make better use of practice time.  For example, one student this week realized the importance of giving themselves a pitch and checking pitch regularly while practicing.  Another discovered much greater freedom singing without an accompaniment or MIDI track.  Because the track is fixed and inflexible, the student was using tension to match the track, rather than allowing themselves to be slightly off rhythmically in the interest of healthier vocal production.

Here are some tips about taking a virtual lesson:

  • Speak slowly.  We will both try to not over-talk each other.  That tends to stop sound in both directions.  Technology hasn’t perfected real time sound/video communication.
  • Use a headset or ear buds if you have them.  This helps isolate sound and reduce feedback issues that can occur.  One ear on, one ear off seems to work best.
  • When working repertoire, I will play piano less or not at all after providing an initial pitch or chord.  If you usually bring your score to a lesson and I don’t have a copy, I won’t be able to see your music unless you send it to me ahead of time to print.  Either way, I will be focused more on you and your singing.
  • If you want to sing to accompaniment, prepare an accompaniment track to be played from a device that is not the one you are using to FaceTime.  You can sing to it in real time and I will listen.  If I accompany you, I will do so minimally to decrease the pitfalls of sound delay.