You’ve seen personality charts. From your daily horoscope and Cosmo quizzes to in-depth analyses like Meyers-Briggs and Clifton Strengths. We love to find out about ourselves, and personality charts are all about that! They become useful tools when the light they shed can help us, professionally or personally.
As a voice teacher your personality and teaching style have attracted students and encouraged them to stay with you to study their art. That same personality and teaching style has encouraged people to leave your studio. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a fact. And because they leave, you may never get a chance to discover their reason for leaving.
In some cases, it’s all on them. It could be a money thing, a family thing, a health thing, or they could have been drafted into a minor league softball team. You just don’t know. But sometimes students leave us because of a failure on our part. We may not have been teaching to their needs, or may have inadvertently hurt their feelings. We may not have read the room.
A Quick & Easy Tool
Today’s post is about a nice little “quadrant” personality tool that will help you quickly figure out your students personality style, and give you ideas for little ways to shift your teaching based on that personality style.
You may be familiar with quadrant tools. There are a lot of them out there! There’s the Communication Styles assessment, the DISC system, the Merrill-Reid Model, and more. The S-I-N-G model I created for voice teachers and coaches is a loose amalgam, and like all of these models, it’s simple and immediately applicable. It should make sense to you instantly, and I hope it provides you with some helpful insight!
The S-I-N-G Assessment for Voice Teachers
This simple tool will use the letters S-I-N-G to designate each quadrant. The east-west axis indicates an orientation towards tasks or relationships. The north-south axis indicates a personality that is more extroverted or outgoing, or one that’s more introverted or reserved. Please note that these are lines, not barriers. Your public personality can land anywhere along these two continuums. Remember, too, that everyone has each of these personality types within their personality to a greater or lesser degree. In order to make good and immediate use of this in your voice studio, focus on the dominant traits of the public personality.
The S Personality
A strong personality type, the S personality commands attention. This person is outgoing and typically straightforward in their manner of communication. They value this trait, and if you are able to communicate this way it will engender their trust in you. The S personality can be deceptive, because they’re friendly and love to talk, but they’re also task-oriented, so they need to accomplish things and meet measurable goals. If you talk too much they won’t be able to meet that need, so make sure to keep the chit-chat to a minimum. Because this person thrives with action, goal-setting is big. You can even set a small goal for a lesson, and give voice to meeting that goal. However, it’s also important to create a context for not meeting goals so that they aren’t too hard on themselves. Though they need recognition, a little goes a long way, so make sure to note their accomplishments without gushing.
The I Personality
The I Personality is the stereotypic performer. Outgoing and talkative, this student is a people-person who’s excited about sharing with you and will give you all the details. They’ll talk away most of their lesson time if you let them, so you have to be a good time manager with these charming people. These are the students who find it hard to practice, but also get frustrated when they don’t experience progress. They’re idealistic and positive, so they tend to consistently plan for more than they can do. Asking them to create 30-minute practice sessions between lessons probably won’t happen, and if that’s something you require, can make them feel they’re failing. It will help them if you can create strategies for their progress that are realistic for their personalities and life situations. Try to impose some structure that they can manage, and reassure them as you work together to find their sweet spot for progress. The I personality is a generous person, and will give you gifts, praise, and favors. Likewise, they feel your praise deeply, and you should not be shy about heaping it on!
The N Personality
A gentle soul, this personality type is not likely to be a solo performer, preferring to sing in choirs or the community theater chorus. They are conscientious and kind, and their terrific listening skills can be seductive! Don’t talk too much! They appreciate your professional guidance, though they may take a bit of time to get used to an idea. They are not necessarily saying “no” to your suggestion, but rather to the idea that they have to adopt it immediately. Give them time to consider changes, even small changes. Because the N personality places so much value on others, they will often neglect their own priorities. Be aware of this person’s level of commitment before assigning homework, and don’t ask for more than they can give. They don’t want to disappoint you! This personality type is very caring and generous; they will remember your birthday and your son’s graduation with a gift or card. Because they do not draw the spotlight to themselves, their efforts are often overlooked, which they feel deeply. Please remember to give this student a lot of genuine acknowledgement and appreciation for everything you can think of.
The G Personality
A more reserved personality type, this student is more likely to be a group singer than a soloist. This singer is organized and detail-oriented, and will make use of any systems you have (or can create) for practice, progress, repertoire, and performances. Because they’re typically conscientious, they’ll experience steady progress, which you should acknowledge in a way that is friendly and matter-of-fact. But do acknowledge their progress! Perceiving things as confusing or haphazard can make them feel anxious or critical. Slow down and speak quietly. Start and end the lesson on time. Do what you said you were going to do in the promised time. It helps this person if you talk in terms of categories and tasks (e.g., “Last week we found two tools – name tools – that helped you access some ease in your higher range. Today we’re going to revisit those and expand on them.”) Because they tend to overthink things, it can be helpful to both you and them if you can isolate elements of your teaching process. It will allow this student to focus on a small goal and not get bogged down in the details.
Wrapping It Up
If you find this S-I-N-G tool intriguing, I’d encourage you to print it out and put it somewhere in your studio so you can see it when you teach. Check it for just a few seconds before each student. You’ll be able to identify your student’s personality type easily, even if responding to them somewhat differently takes some getting used to! Have fun!