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Singing Upside to Lockdown

After 45 years teaching, Hastings singing teacher and long-time NZ Singing School Trustee, Jill Tobin, has found an upside to lockdown - her students are rehearsing better.

The lockdown pushed a lot of music teachers to teaching online. But it’s not as easy to teach singing online as it is to teach an instrument.

“We need to be in the same room to hear what’s really going on with the student’s voice, so online teaching is only as good as it can be depending on the computer equipment people can use,” says Jill Tobin

Jill always provides her students with piano accompaniments on CDs or data sticks for practising at home, so they were used to that. During lockdown her students have been keen to get back into their music, so she has delivered more sheet music, CDs and data sticks to students to keep them going.

She has taught some students online throughout the lockdown, some less. Most have about a 40 minute lesson online a week, and her students preparing for exams get a full hour.

“The online sessions have been good for getting my students focussed again. They now use the accompaniments because they have to, because they’ve got no-one to play the piano for them - they have been spoiled,” she says.

“I can’t push them as I can in a live class and stopping and correcting isn’t as easy, so instead we've been focussing on basics, diction connecting the voice, the legato line and getting their support working. That’s worked well.”

Jill says Zoom has been good for online teaching, with very little delay, and she is set up with a remote speaker with Bluetooth which gives a better sound. She is also teaching one singer in Australia via Messenger. “In two weeks he’s done amazingly well just a few online sessions. A really passionate pupil.”

Jill thinks there will be opportunities for her to teach online in the future. “My students have all been keen for the online classes and their rehearsing has definitely improved - lockdown has been a good lesson in that it is up to the student to do the work.”

Jill Tobin is a Hastings singing teacher, founding member of NZ Teachers of Singing and of the Singing School NZ, is a past Chairman and current Trustee of the NZ Singing School Trust.


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