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Joining Alexa today is Professor of Performing Arts Pedagogy at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Roberta Wolff. As well as teaching on the Guildhall PGCert programme, she provides professional development on teaching skills to teachers across the performing arts disciplines. Roberta is also a workshop leader, coach and piano teacher. In this episode, we discuss how to create optimal learning environments to serve children and young adult singers.


  • Students arrive at lessons with all sorts of other things going on in their heads. You need to allow time for that student to adjust from that state into one where they are focused on the lesson and ready to learn. We can’t influence what the learner has been doing prior to the lesson, but we can influence the space they’re coming into, nurturing a place where they can play, relax and ask questions. 
  • The changes and transformations we as teachers are making in the room with students don’t have to be a profound moment or a massive breakthrough. It can be the small things that make the biggest difference over time. 
  • Students need a space where they can be heard by their teachers. Everybody needs something different to help them learn and if we don’t encourage a student to vocalise what they need, then they’re not going to be getting the most of their education. 
  • Who sets what success looks like for each individual student? If you know what success looks like for your student then you can set personalised targets and adapt to their individual goals. Roberta doesn’t set the student’s agenda, she listens to where they want to go.   


‘I love it when students challenge me because it shows that they’re really thinking’ 

‘If the ideas are coming from the student themselves, they’re going to be more likely to remember and more motivated to follow through’ 

‘I feel we have to manage the impact of our own moods and frustrations so that they don’t damage the environment we’re creating’ 

‘The quality we bring to our listening can improve the quality of the other person’s thinking’


Social Media:

  • Instagram: @guildhallschool

Relevant Links & Mentions: 

  • (Book) Time to Think by Nancy Kline 
  • (Podcast) The Full Voice – Ep.169 Happy Hormones for Learning with Dr Jenevora Williams 
  • Dr Jenevora Williams:
  • (Book) Introducing Neuroeducational Research by Paul Howard-Jones
  • (Book) Grit by Angela Duckworth 

Do you have a burning question on the voice or being a singing teacher? Maybe you have a topic you want us to explore or a guest you’d like to hear from? Let us know by completing the Podcast 

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Roberta is a professor of performing arts pedagogy at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She teaches on an innovative PGCert programme providing professional development in teaching skills to teachers across the performing arts disciplines. This role has led to staff development work both within Guildhall, and across other institutions such as Italia Conti. She is an experienced workshop facilitator, coach, and piano teacher. A cross-section of these competencies has resulted in a particular interest in learning environments and how to curate these for the maximum benefit of students. This includes a space that is safe, with plenty of time for the student’s voice, questions, and mistakes (!); an environment that is enriching and nourishing for both the teacher and student.