Nurturing Talent in a Singing Lesson – Explore


In the fourth of this 5-part series on nurturing talent in a singing lesson, we’re focusing on what to do once you’ve completed Stage 1 – Listen, Stage 2 – Diagnose and Stage 3 – Choose

We’ve listened, we’ve made the diagnosis and chosen an exercise, a technique or a process that should fit the bill. How do we know it’s going to work?

Stage 4 – Explore 

If you’re in decision paralysis and you don’t know which of your exercises or techniques to choose, remember Stage 4 – Explore. You need to explore the exercise with the student before confirming that’s what you want them to practise.

Here are three complete Explore ideas:

  • Try the technique out on one note or on different notes
  • Apply the technique singing the lyrics on one note and then with the lyrics+melody
  • Transfer the technique to other phrases in the same song, and then in different songs.

Each one of these might only take 3 minutes yet it gives both of you confirmation that the technique is the right one for this student at this moment in time doing this song, and you can be confident using it. 

What if it’s the wrong one?

Now singing teachers are usually pretty good at spotting issues and providing fixes, but sometimes we get it wrong. Before we go into what to do next, let’s examine what might happen.

We get excited, choose something and go straight into instruction, then get the student to do it over and over again even if it’s apparently not working. Unfortunately, that’s when the mindset on both sides hardens. The teacher is going “that technique always works, there must be something wrong with what you’re doing” and the student is going “I’m trying my hardest and it’s not working, what am I doing wrong?”

Notice that, in different ways, both are blaming the student. If you have explored and it’s still not working, ditch the exercise and APOLOGISE. The apology is important because it removes the blame from the student. In cases like this it’s up to the more experienced person (the teacher) to take responsibility for choosing the wrong exercise for the situation and the student (see Listen, Diagnose and Choose above). You need to fess up.

This does mean that the teacher needs some flexibility in their approach, and an apology ready if necessary. It should be an easy sentence that allows the teacher to feel safe and human.

How I apologise

FYI I always set up my apology beforehand – “I’ve got two techniques to choose from and I’m not sure which one to go with for you today so let’s explore the first one and then if I get it wrong we can move to the second”. This removes blame from the equation and turns into two people exploring a situation with “flight correction” if necessary.

I’ll let you into a secret. Sometimes even when I use this sentence I don’t have two techniques, but I’m giving us both an “out” if my original idea doesn’t work.

So what do you do next if you find yourself in this situation? It probably means you missed something in the Diagnose or the Choose stages, so stop, go back and notice your reason for choosing the exercise that didn’t work. Confirm the diagnosis in your mind, choose a different exercise and start exploring again.

Even the most experienced teachers can get the exercise choice wrong so don’t worry, choose another one, explore and move forwards.

Once you’re happy with your chosen technique or process, you can move on to the next post and final stage (and the one most teachers forget), Embed.


There are multiple masterclasses and coaching sessions in the Teacher Pathway with examples of us exploring the techniques we’ve chosen. If you want to see us get results in a few minutes using this stage, check out the Accreditation Gateway course where we masterclass students through songs in different genres.


For targeted 1-1 input on your singing lessons book a coaching session with Jeremy or Gillyanne and explore what matters to you

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