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Three Ss - a positive approach to teaching


The following article was published by the ISM on their website on 29th May 2013

The ISM is a highly professional body for musicians in the UK

I am a member and also listed in their 'composers and performers' section


Three S’s - a positive approach to teaching singing

Written by ISM member Dan Evans.


For 20 years I have been teaching singing using a unique process that achieves remarkable results. My classes have often sold out, sometimes with long waiting lists, students have come from all over Europe to attend them, and are often moved by the experience and sometimes have life-changing experiences.


Dan Evans


Ironically, singing is not my forte, I'm one of many people who were told as a child to mime in the school choir. Inevitably, my singing has improved over many years of performing and teaching but my contribution to this work is as much as a psychologist as a musician. I use the power of positive reinforcement - students are praised for their existing and developing strengths. The positive reinforcement is carefully structured and managed, involving the whole group. Each participant is asked to give feedback which is Supportive, Specific and Sincere.


In this context, supportive means that only positive feedback can be given - criticism is banished altogether, including so-called 'constructive criticism'. Once I realised that criticism serves the needs of giver, not the recipient and that it invariably damages confidence, then there was no place for it on my courses. Singers will often catastrophise over small mistakes, that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Hearing only positive feedback helps them to achieve a more normal perspective and gives them the confidence to tackle issues and progress. Specific feedback is more credible than general feedback and helps the recipient to believe it. 


As well as giving supportive and specific feedback, participants are asked to be sincere - they must not falsely praise bad practice or poor performance. This makes them listen more carefully and to look for the good, thus cultivating positivity and enhancing their awareness, understanding and appreciation of musical form. Moreover the mutual respect shown by listening more profoundly and giving positive reinforcement, bonds the group.


the engine chart


I have named this process 'the engine' and the three virtues of the engine are that it develops confidence, cultivates positivity and builds teams. Whilst there are other unique qualities to my approach, the engine is probably the main reason for the success of my voice workshops. My premise is that confidence is why people are successful at their endeavours - be they musical or for their work and careers in industry. The results speak for themselves.

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