stay calm & pivot


Written By Shannon Coates

On March 14, 2020

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finding a new normal in the face of wild unpredictability

Well friends, we find ourselves in a state of RAPIDLY-CHANGING-FEET-NEVER-LANDING-HOLY-COW-HOW-DID-THIS-ESCALATE-SO-FAST NESS. And we’re gonna’ pivot the heck out of it. YEAH WE ARE.

If you’re considering moving to online lessons, scroll down for some resources to get you there fast and with the least amount of anxiety. And if you’re not into online lessons (or your students aren’t), scroll down for some ideas to continue NON-IN-PERSON engagement and learning in the studio while everyone is practising social-distancing.

resources for teaching online

And I LOVE this wee info graphic from The Vocal Warrier, Elise Besler:

No photo description available.

ideas for ongoing engagement & learning outside of the traditional lesson format

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, my friend (and entrepreneur coach), Vanessa Long posted a great reframing for us traditionally ‘hands-on’ practitioners that offers so much wisdom around what we’re offering our clients (students) and what we’re not. (HINT: we’re not JUST teaching singing, friends!) Take a little read and then come on back.

DID IT? Great. So now you’re thinking, “OF COURSE! Voice lessons are just the vehicle for the things I’m REALLY offering, right?” RIGHT. Because:

🗝 We’re helping folx to excavate and find their true Voice (with a CAPITAL V, y’all)

🗝 We’re guiding people as they discover the joy of music

🗝 We’re watching as confidence and self-assurance is found and exercised

🗝 We’re exposing people to the joy of discipline

🗝 We’re facilitating exploration and beautiful growth

🗝 We’re creating safe spaces for children (and adults! and EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN!) to express their feelings and to discover that they’re not alone in their experiences

🗝 We’re giving people the chance to explore balance and energy and awareness as it relates to their very own bodies


First of all, you send an email to your students and you say, HERE’S SOMETHING COOL I’M OFFERING – LET ME KNOW IF, IN YOUR LESSON TIME YOU WANT ME TO DO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:

[for younger singers]
✅ email three tongue twisters per week – everyone records their BEST VERSIONS of those tongue twisters and uploads it to the studio FB page
✅ send three examples of my fav young singers – you tell me (video or written or in picture form – whatever you like!) why you think I like them
✅ prepare curated lists of songs that I think are PERFECT for you – you tell me which two are your favourite and you can start learning ’em right away
✅ hold a song-writing festival in the studio – I’ll send you the lyrics and you can make up the rest
✅ send a pdf of fun activities that you can do [check Full Voice Music‘s freebie page for these] while you’re on break – you take a picture when you’re done and send it back so I can hang it on my fridge/studio FBpage wall/ whatever
✅ create a list of three FREE apps that will help you develop some music skills [look for sight reading, ear training, note reading, etc. apps] – you do the first three levels of each app and get back to me about which app you like best

[for older singers]
✅ send a list of exercises curated specifically for your use [send a pdf with the exercises written out and/or a video and/or a recording of the melodies]
✅ create a five-minute warm up for you to use every day – you send me a video of you doing it so I can see how effective it is
✅ give you feedback on a 5 to 15 minute video of ANYTHING you’re doing right now (tricky part of your rep, weird acting moment in a song, specific skill you’re trying to develop [agility? high belt? middle mix? that fracking /y/ vowel?], some intense language thing – WHATEVER!
✅ pull together a list of resources about any issue pertaining to singing you want – just let me know the topic and I’ll go to work
✅ pair you up with another studio member to run some dialogue or work on a duet or warm up together or write a song together … ✅ create a “Showtunes Book Club” where everyone is assigned a new show to watch each week and then you get to talk about it in the Zoom Room at the end of the week (that’s what Leischen Moore at Rare Bird Voice Studios is doing!)
✅ that tongue-twister thing from the first list

Honestly? The list is endless. And you can do whatever you like.

I hope you’ll go on and #teachyourfaceoff EVEN HARDER than you have before, friends!

Shannon Coates The Vocal Instrument 101 signature

ps The inaugural (SO FANCY) Virtual Voice Ped Power Up is at the end of March and we’re doing it ONLINE (yeah we are) and it’s ALLLL ABOUT breaking down belting and mixing and contemporary styles. To get more information, CLICK HERE (or on the graphic below). And to get 10% savings on the class, join mah mailing list (sign ups are all over the danged place on this site).

Virtual Voice Ped Power Up with Shannon Coates montly(ish) in 2020


  1. Tiffany Cadenhead

    You are a treasure. Thank you for this!