Planning the year ahead

Hi all,

Most of our students have now started lessons for the year, and those who have know I ask, “what are your singing goals for this year?” Some students have goals such as “getting better at singing” or “improving my stage confidence”, without really knowing how they might achieve them. Other students have specific goals such as “audition for a pro-am musical” or “learn lounge music”, which sets the lesson focus up for the year. Still others have long term targets to make music performance their career trajectory and life focus.

Each student has a unique set of goals and it is my job to help them realise those goals within the singing studio. One of the ways I do this is to set small, achievable targets for those students who want to get better at singing but don’t really know how to achieve it. For example, singing in a small concert, or sitting for a singing exam might be an achievable goal for them. For another student, competing in many Eisteddfods, and winning, might be their goal for the year. Every year I try to find more ways for my students to engage with performance and learning. I wonder how I can ensure my students are gaining as much stage experience as possible and taking part in activities that will enrich their singing experiences.

One way of extending the range of activities in the studio is to host Master Classes and concerts throughout the year, to team teach where possible and to invite visiting teachers to work with my students. This allows my students to see that singing is not just about the one-on-one lesson, but that singing and performing involves working within a network of performance professionals: repetiteurs, music directors, artists, choreographers and the like. It is so easy as a singing teacher to stay safe within the one-on-one lesson, not extending one’s ties or challenging one’s teaching approach. However, to deny my students opportunities to extend their ability and skills would be reprehensible as an educator. So in the next few months I will be providing a range of performance opportunities for my students and I will be looking at ways to make our studio even more relevant in the coming years.

In the meantime, however, AMEB singing exams and competing in Brisbane and SEQ based Eisteddfods are two ongoing performance opportunities I encourage all singers to take part in. For more information on Eisteddfods, check out the MTAQ page on eisteddfods to find one close to you:  This year we will also hold a Master Class (also open to other singers) and two concerts – a May concert and a November one.

Do you have a specific goal you want to achieve in singing this year? Do you have a secret ambition for your singing that you are even too afraid to tell your teacher? If you do, hold onto that ambition, and practise, practise, practise your singing. That way, your goals will be better realised in your lessons, on stage, and in life.

About Jessica

Dr Jessica O'Bryan PhD is an educator, researcher, singer and author. Her next book on Musical Theatre Education and Training will be published in 2020 through Routledge. Her last book was Teaching Singing in the 21st Century (2014, Springer). She lives in Brisbane in a semi-renovated 20s Queenslander home with her husband, Dougal the Groodle, and all the single ladies (Poppy the Groodle, Lucy the Cat, and the chooks).
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