Summer is here and your Facebook feed is full of photos of colleagues and friends singing and smiling at the many workshops, conferences and institutes that are being offered at colleges and retreat spaces all over the world. In this article, I’m going to give you six ideas to take a professional development “staycation.” Let’s go!
Avoid the summer institute blues
And you’re quietly tucked at home, unable to attend due to no money (thanks a lot, student loans…or bathroom renovation) or no childcare. (Or both, in my case…sigh).
Before you get a terminal case of FOMO, I have come up with a solution to the Professional Development Blues. I call it the Professional Development “Staycation.” Just because you can’t hop on a play and spend three weeks studying with some master teacher doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your skills in a meaningful way this summer.Here is a list of ideas I put together to make sure that you stay on top of your professional development, on a budget.
Take private lessons with an expert in your area…or via Zoom.
You may not have thousands of dollars to fly off somewhere, but what if you invested a few hundred dollars taking private lessons with a great teacher. If there isn’t anyone in your area, pretty much everyone is teaching via Zoom. (thanks Covid!). The summer is a perfect time to sweep the cobwebs off your repertoire, expand your technique or just learn something new.
Swap lessons with a colleague.
Sometimes the best professional development comes from watching others teach and learning what works for them. Reach out to another voice teacher in your area and see if they’d be into a swap, or even let you observe them teach. This is a great way to get some new ideas to try with your own students. Remember: our colleagues aren’t competition!
Catch up on your reading/watching/listening
We all know you have a stack of Journal of Singing magazines that have been gathering dust while you have been teaching all year. Now would be a great idea to read them and get current. This is also a good time to listen to the soundtracks to all of the Tony nominees, and check out the albums that got Grammy nominations this year. This would also be a great chance to go back and binge-listen some episodes of your favorite podcast.
I recommend the Full Voice podcast and A Voice and Beyond – two amazing resources for singing teachers! If you are a piano teacher, I love me some All Keyed Up.
Get caught up on your listening
If your repertoire is getting stale, it might be time to get caught up on your listening. Check out some of the latest hits, watch the latest Disney movies or movie versions of musicals. Step outside of your usual repertoire comfort zone and see what is going on in other styles of music. I love finding some Top 40 or Top 100 playlists on Spotify and listening around to what’s happening now. I have found some great gems that way!
Join an online membership
There are tons of online resources for instruction nowadays, many of which are extremely comprehensive and effective. If you want to step up your game and improve your piano skills, your musicianship, learn solfege, grow some jazz or improvisation chops, I recommend you check out my signature membership The Versatile Musician. It’s a huge value and has been totally transformational for hundreds of people!
6. Work on your business
Now would be a great time to update your website, switch to an online billing system, learn Excel, learn how to shoot and edit videos or study marketing. Many community colleges offer courses on business topics inexpensively, or you can hit YouTube to see what is available. You may also order a stack of books from your public library to do a deep dive into a business-related skill. You could also take a course like Branding Boot Camp or How to Run Your Your Voice Studio.
These are just a few ideas that can help you grow your skill set this summer, while you preserve your pocketbook and still get your kids (or dogs) to the park every day.
What are YOUR summer professional development plans?