What do students learn in vocal lessons at Brooklyn Music Factory?
Voice lessons are important for the simple reason that (like any other instrument), singers need feedback! Singers can’t see their instrument and they hear their own voice differently from the way the rest of the world hears it. Getting expert feedback from a voice teacher builds confidence and strong healthy singing.
Here is what every Brooklyn Music Factory vocal student can expect to get out of their lessons:
- Good vocal technique – how to find your unique voice and get the most out of your instrument.
- Musical interpretation– how to make the song your own and tell your own unique story.
- Performance Skills– mic technique, stage presence, as well as audition skills.
- Music Theory and Ear training – Hint: Vocalists are MUSICIANS!
- Vocal Health – how to truly take care of your instrument so you can sing for life.
Here is what a 45 minute Brooklyn Music Factory vocal lesson feels like from start to finish:
- 5 Minute Warm Up: An Improvised and timed musical conversation on drums, piano, voice, or even body percussion.
- 10 Minutes of Skillz & Drillz: This is all about building vocal technique as it applies to the student’s gig song (what they will be playing with other musicians at an upcoming performance).
- 5 Minute Weekly Goal Review: Every student has one weekly music goal and this is when it gets tested. The student and teacher sing through the weekly goal and then ask the question, ‘did we achieve our weekly goal?’ The teacher & student keeps track of Yes/No every week, all year and parents receive a report monthly.
- 15 Minute BLAM Game: BLAM stands for Big Lesson About Music. This is when the student builds music fluency and it’s all done through game based learning techniques. We gamify everything because we have found kids are far more likely to grow their fluency when the exercises are disguised in a game. And they LOVE leveling up. There are 15 levels for each game (5: BEG/5: INT/5:ADV) in each category making for 100’s of games. BLAM games are leveled from absolute beginner to professional. It takes our students 7-10 years to complete all 15 levels of each game. (see a more detailed explanation below)
- 10 Minute Song Work: This is when the student works on reading and singing songs from BMF created lead sheets of pop, rock, jazz songs.
- 5 Minute HomeRock Review: HomeRock is what we call lesson notes. Every student has a HomeRock binder that holds weekly lesson notes + all support materials. At the top of the HomeRock is the student’s weekly goal. The student reads out loud their weekly goal as the final step in their lesson.
Vocal Technique Explained:
Simple Explanation: Vocal technique covers correct breathing, posture, support and tone production (the sound of the voice).
Elaborate Explanation: Vocal technique covers freeing the voice of tension, engaging the support muscles, correcting alignment and breathing, navigating the different passagios of the voice (or “gears”–when the vocal cords are either lengthening or thickening or both!) and diction.
Musical Interpretation Explained:
Brooklyn Music Factory prides itself on growing musicians first and technicians second. Building an emotional connection to the story of the song as well as how to tell that physically is a HUGE part of the vocal curriculum. Vocalists are story tellers and understanding the nuances of every story/song and how to express each turn is essential to growing into a mature musician.
Performance Skills Explained:
Ever gone to a show and not heard a word the vocalist sang? Ever heard a wonderful vocalist sing beautifully while shying away from the audience, afraid to connect? Ever wonder why some singers are able to confidently make eye contact and communicate & others seem to be terrified of an audience….thought it was natural ‘talent?’ Guess again. All of the above skills are learned and fall into performance skills. It takes a concerted effort working with a teacher over a number of years to build these sustainable habits of engagement and effortless interaction.
Music Theory & Ear Training Explained:
At Brooklyn Music Factory, we focus on a game based curriculum…but what exactly does that mean? We have built a massive library (over 100 games/levels at last count) of what we call BLAM Games: Big Lessons About Music – Games. The goal is to build music fluency in four categories n a balanced way over the course of a student’s entire journey at Brooklyn Music Factory:
- Rhythm: Groove is paramount to any musicians success. Students study hearing and reading rhythmic notation (in all it’s divisions, sub divisions & combinations), as well as how to actually apply them to rock and pop music.
- Melody: Students learn to hear and analyze the contour and logic behind melodies. They study intervals (the distance between two notes) and how a melody is a combination of steps, skips and leaps within a major or minor scale.
- Harmony: Students build a working knowledge of chords and how they are combined to create progressions. Beginning BMFers start by working with chords start as three notes known as triads and over the next ten years grow a working knowledge of extended pop & jazz chords.
- Lyrics/Form/Composition: Composition and improvisation are a HUGE part of what we do at Brooklyn Music Factory. Students work from the very first lesson on growing confident expressing themselves in the language of music with our totally improvised duet, we call this the 5 Minute Warm Up. As well, students learn that songs are made up of a clear structure with lyrics driving the melodic and harmonic rhythm. Students dissect the importance of words and how each syllable has implications in the entire band. By midway through middle school, all of our students are challenged to start composing. Each year we feature ten original private lesson student compositions on an album release through BMF Records.
Finally…the question all seem to ask at some point:
Do Singers Learn to Read Music?
YES! Vocal students follow the same reading curriculum that the piano, guitar, bass, & drum students follow at Brooklyn Music Factory. That means that they will learn to read melodies, chord changes, lead sheets (pop music sheet music), and rhythms. And with sight singing, sight-singing, the BMF BLAM game curriculum currently teaches what we call Solfege and “Movable Do”. In simple terms this means that our singers can move between multiple keys & communicate using a universal language (solfege) that singers around the globe will recognize.
Please feel free to email or call with further questions. Learning and making music is a life long journey that requires both a community of supporters as well as mindful & attentive mentors every step of the way. While it may be easy to believe that the great musicians were ‘born with talent,’ the truth is anything that is worth doing takes true commitment, work, and a whole lot of help staying on the right track.
See you at BMF!