Critical Listening and Goal-Setting in Music Lessons

Critical Listening and Goal-Setting in Music Lessons

In my first lesson with any new student I think it’s important to establish a common ground by getting on the same page with things like previous music experience, expectations for lessons, and vocal goals. Since I’ve started teaching, I realized that I may have started to take articulating these things for granted. I spent my final semesters critically listening to myself in order to achieve specific goals such as maneuvering from my chest to head voice more efficiently, and taking breaths “low and slow” enough to make it through sustained phrases.

But I can still remember the very beginning of my musical journey, when I was in the exact same predicament my students find themselves in with me now. It goes along the lines of,

“What are your musical goals? Why are you taking voice lessons?”

“… I want.. to sing…. better?”

“What do you mean by better?”

“….. just like ‘good’ ?”

We then discuss our favorite singers, songs we enjoy listening to, and what we like about them. While I’ve been trained to hear my students and articulate to myself what makes their voice unique, what its strengths and weaknesses are and how to improve, the student also has to find themselves at a greater level of awareness for lessons to be efficient. While singing, or playing an instrument, you should be able to ask yourself how something felt when you did it, if it made you comfortable or uncomfortable, and how it sounded. It’s harder to work towards a goal when you’re not even exactly sure what it is- like having a GPS but not knowing your actual destination.

So the next time you listen to your favorite artists- take notes! Does their voice sound well supported? Are there any dynamics? How could you describe their tone (light, heavy, nasal, hooded)? Do they sing “expressively”? If so, how? THEN- when it’s time for you to sing, ask yourself those same questions!


Khadijah Jabbar, Voice Instructor

Jesusa Pons-Garner

I’ve had both my children attend lessons at this location. The staff is absolutely wonderful. Mrs. Amber is an incredible piano instructor!

Jesusa Pons-Garner / parent
Jennifer Ortega

San Antonio Music Academy is very well organized. My daughter's piano teacher is wonderful! She's been taking lessons for 5 months and looks forward to each lesson. I really enjoy the recitals at the LOL Comedy Club.

Jennifer Ortega / parent
Esmeralda Saavedra

My daughter has been registered here since she was 7. Each instructor she’s had has been very friendly and great to work with. Currently she has lessons with Ms Maria and we are so grateful for her and the entire SAMA staff. I can’t recommend enough.

Esmeralda Saavedra / parent
Elio Maldonado Jr.

Jacob was an excellent guitar instructor. He was patient and prepared. I definitely recommend him to any person wanting to learn guitar.

Elio Maldonado Jr. / parent
Crystal Reyes

We absolutely  San Antonio Music Academy!!! All 3 of my children take lessons and they love it. My daughter Taylor has really improved her vocal abilities with the help of a wonderful vocal teacher.

Crystal Reyes / parent
Steve Dell

San Antonio Music Academy is awesome, my son loves the guitar lessons and is super excited to attend every week! He started with zero experience and progressed surprisingly fast. Randy is an amazingly talented guitarist/teacher. He is very patient, yet knows how to push students to the next level. Highly recommend all the instructors, the staff is great!

Steve Dell / parent
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