Management Skills in the Music Business

I have recently had the pleasure of working with an extremely talented vocal coach, Dane Chalfin at the Leeds College of Music.

Dane wanted to improve his effectiveness in giving feedback to his students so that he could more powerfully influence the development of their vocal talents.

In my first session I taught Dane a basic feedback model which aims to:

  1. identify the specific behaviours that need to be reinforced or avoided
  2. describe precisely the impact of these behaviours on the vocal performance, on the long term health of the voice, and on the likelihood of the student having a successful long term singing career!
  3. asks the student what they think they could do differently (assuming we are trying to minimise a behaviour) or just asking them to keep it up – if it is a behaviour that we are trying to encourage.

Unlike many managers, Dane had no problem experimenting with what I taught him, and within days was reporting wonderful results!  He especially loved the way that now students were thinking about what they could change (posture, phrasing, breathe control – so many variables!) and learning to manage their own vocal performance – rather than relying on him to diagnose the problem and prescribe a solution.  Teaching students this ability to coach themselves is the hall mark of an outstanding manager and I am sure will stand Dane and his students in great stead.

Today I got to do a follow up session with Dane watching him work with students and it was a remarkable experience.  I was able to watch Dane work with a couple of talented young vocalists helping them to improve their vocal performance significantly in a matter of minutes.  In the space of a few minutes students would present the piece they were working on.  Dale would listen, observe and then coach them into trying new approaches and styles – which initially took the students well out of their comfort zones (‘this feels wrong’, ‘its really weird’).  However by using  feedback to help the students to recognise the impact of these new habits on their vocal performance and they were soon able to recognise the benefits of the new behaviours and pledge to practice them until they become habits.

It was a real privilege to see the process unfold and great to see some management techniques being used so effectively in the music business.