Whether you specialize in teaching youth or are totally terrified to take on their young and ever-changing voices (and hormones!), our own Becca Marie Denli will help us learn more about the best ways to teach them in her IVACON…
Every profession has its tools of the trade, and teaching singing is no different. Whether you are just starting out or already have a thriving studio. In part 1 of this series we talked about some of the equipment required to be a singing teacher. In part 2 we have some more suggestions for you.
I like having a decent mixer on hand to blend the sound in the room, and also to make decent recordings for my students. With a mixer, you can turn up or down the levels on your voice, the keyboard, the backing track or the student’s mic whenever necessary. If you have an all in one PA system, then you probably already have a mixer built in. Yet, my two favorite mixers right now for teaching studios are the Mackie ProFX 12 and the Alesis Multimix 16.
These are both nice sounding mixers which also include USB ports so that the main mix can be fed directly into a computer which makes recording very easy and great sounding, and also eliminates the need for a separate audio interface with your computer.
Computer and monitor
I absolutely love my iMac with its huge 27” monitor. It is the center of my studio. But if you are a PC person, that’s absolutely fine too. Just make sure that your computer is fast enough, and has enough RAM to handle multitasking, sound files, sound recording and Skype calls. Also consider having a computer monitor large enough that it can be easily seen from a bit of a distance if necessary.
If you are teaching via Skype, you will definitely need your computer at an easy viewing angle from your piano. Also, a good computer is important If you need a quick Karaoke track from YouTube or an Mp3 from your hard drive.
As previously stated, I prefer to have my computer set up so that the sound comes through my USB mixer and out of my PA speaker rather than using the computer speakers.
If your computer doesn’t have a built in camera for Skype teaching, you will also need to purchase a webcam. A nice one that I use to override my built in camera on my Mac is the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920.
Headset mic and headphones
Some teachers find that using the built in microphone and speakers on their computer work just fine for teaching via Skype. However if you find that there is echo or feedback, you will want to consider using a headset mic and headphones for Skype lessons.
A good model that is very reasonably priced is the Logitech USB Headset H390.
Make sure that if you are planning on doing a lot of online lessons via Skype etc., that you invest in as fast of an internet connection as you can afford. I personally like having a minimum of 25 MBS download and 5 MBS upload so I minimize problems on my end with buffering, etc.
Many teachers prefer having their students record their own lessons on their smart phones; personally, I prefer to record my students’ lessons for them. I like to simply record them straight into an audio program (I use Garage Band). I can either drag the MP3 file onto a thumb drive that the student brings, email the mp3 to them via a file sharing service like Hightail, YouSendIt, or DropBox, or I can burn an audio CD for them in a few minutes.
If you are recording lessons for your students, be sure that you save 3 or 4 minutes at the end of each lesson for completing the process.
Some teachers who record lessons for their students simply use the built in microphone in their computer; yet, If you use a mixer, you can control the different levels from the different microphones, your keyboard and any backing tracks. If you are using a mixer, you will need a way to get the sound coming through your mixer into your computer to record it.
If you have a mixer with a USB connection, then you don’t need a separate audio interface, you just plug it into your USB port on the computer and choose it as your audio source in your recording software. But if your mixer has no built in audio interface then you will need to invest in a mid range audio interface.
Avoid most of the very cheap interfaces, as they tend to be rather noisy. Some good mid range options for audio interfaces are, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, the PreSonus AudioBox 22VSL, the PreSonus AudioBox iOne, the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6, or the Tascam US-2×2.
There are plenty of other pieces of equipment that you may eventually desire such as:
- sound treatment for your studio (I use Auralex),
- a decent quality video camera on a tripod for recording performances for your students to review,
- access to drinking water and clean cups or glasses,
- decent temperature and climate control,
- coffee and/or tea,
- a clock in plain sight,
- decent lighting,
- an air purifier,
- a cleaning crew,
- a waiting room or waiting area with magazines,
- a receptionist or a security camera at your front door,
- a decent collection of sheet music, music books and /or digital files,
- a good condenser mic for making demo recordings of your students when necessary, etc., etc.
Please remember that no amount of equipment will make you a good voice teacher–only your education, experience and talent can do that; but a well equipped studio will give you a professional edge and help you to focus on your teaching with much more ease.
Remember that you are in this for the long haul. Don’t worry about getting everything you think you might need all at once. Start with the most basic equipment that you absolutely need to get your studio up and running, and invest in your studio over time as you can afford it. You will be very glad you did!
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