Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute
Augmented feedback is information received from others when performing a task. In the voice studio, this feedback comes from the teacher. Augmented feedback comes in two types “knowledge of performance” (KP) and “knowledge of results” (KR). KP feedback gives the singer information about how they produced a sound. For example, you may tell the student they didn’t smile enough on the high note, or that they raised their chin, or that their abdominal wall wasn’t engaged. When using KR feedback, instead of telling the student what they did wrong, the teacher tells the student how close they came to the goal. So for instance, you may tell the student that the vowel was “almost right” or that some aspect of their performance is “80% there.”
It is important to know when to provide each of these types of feedback. For instance, KP feedback is usually most beneficial in the initial stages of learning a new skill. However, the teacher needs to be careful not to micromanage the student. Micromanaging prevents the student from having time to assess their own performance. While the micromanaged student may perform better in the lesson, it is more likely that they will return to the next lesson and appear to have made little progress from the last session. This is because the student was relying solely on the teacher to achieve the desired results.
When a student has a clear understanding of what is expected and is working on consistency and mastery of a skill, KR feedback is usually more effective. However, in order for the KR feedback to be effective, the student must understand what the target is and how to get there. Sometimes in the excitement of the moment, we want to offer feedback immediately after a student has sung a phrase. However, kinesiology studies suggest that immediately offering feedback may impede progress. Instead, wait a few seconds, let the student process what they did, and then offer your feedback. Ask them to “think about that for a minute” and then try the exercise/phrase again. This gives the student time to process the feedback and has been shown to enhance skill acquisition.
As you teach this week, think about what kind of feedback you are offering and try experimenting with KP and KR as appropriate. When you offer KR instead of KP, it is likely your student will make more mistakes and it may take them more time to “get it right” in the lesson. However, the long-term gains they will make as they become more self-sufficient are well worth it.
For more information about motor learning as described in this post, check out The Vocal Athlete by Dr. Wendy LeBorgne, CCC-SLP and Marci Rosenberg, CCC-SLP. Wendy and Marci will be guests this summer at the New CCM Institute and will be teaching participants how to incorporate motor learning principles during session I.
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