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Science-y Bells and Whistles: Are They Worth It?

When I was doing my doctorate, I spent a whole lot of time in the vocology lab, working with software and tools that we used for research as we asked questions and searched for the answers on vocal production and good voice care. Since I've graduated and I'm out in the wild, so to speak, I've used precisely one of those tools in my studio. There are a couple other things that I would consider adding to my toolbox, but generally speaking, I've found that most of the bells and whistles that are available now to voice teachers are not going to enhance my teaching that much. Here's how I consider which tools are worth it to me, and which ones I can leave in the lab.

But first....


This post is not going to talk about specific tools or software, because the technology is changing so quickly that speaking about individual things is not going to serve my purpose here. There are certainly blogs and articles out there that do talk about that, but I'm focusing more on the decision-making process here.


Now, back to it....


If I'm considering a new tool, there are a few questions that I ask myself to help me determine whether it's going to be a good investment. First, will I use this regularly? If this is likely to be something that I would only pull out occasionally or in very specific circumstances, most likely it's not going to be worth it to buy it or store it. Space in my studio is at a premium, so anything that comes into that space, even digitally, needs to earn its keep.


Next, is the cost in my budget, or will I make back the cost soon enough? Some tools are free, and that's super cool. But if I'm going to be putting out the cash to get a new toy, it needs to be profitable.


Related to that, will this new tool allow me to increase my value as a teacher? In other words, will this tool help me stand apart from other teachers or allow me to increase what I'm charging for my work?


What is the learning curve, or how much time is it going to take to learn how to use this? The investment of time can be just as important as the investment in money. If it's going to take me a really long time to learn something, my time might be better spend with other things.


How likely is this technology to become obsolete, or how fast will it go out of date? Some things will need regular updates, and knowing if those happen automatically, in the case of software, or if upgrades will need to be purchased, is important. But if this tool is going to be a temporary thing, or it it's likely that we will move in a different direction in science circles, I'd be less likely to invest the time or money.


Is it cool? Let's be honest, there are some things that are just for my own edification. As an example, a vocal dosimeter and a sound dosimeter are both things that I would love to have on hand, simply because I think they're neat. And if I can afford it and I would get a lot of enjoyment out of using it, the cool factor may be enough for me to decide to get it.


Does this help me uphold my values in my business? This may mean different things to different people, but for me, I highly value space in my home, life, and business, including digital space. So when I remember to keep that value at the top of mind when I am considering adding things to my business, that helps me make decisions. Even free technology has a cost to it in time and storage. Digital clutter can be as frustrating as physical clutter, so I am much more careful now about what I gather than I used to be. When I forget that value, I tend to end up frustrated or regretting the decision.


Will this replace something I already use? This is related to how I value space. There's only so many things I can use well, and so if I already have a good system and good tools in place, I may want to keep what I'm doing already rather than trying to cram in another thing. But if I know I can improve my systems by replacing an old tool with a new tool, of course that is worth consideration.


What other things do you think about when you are considering another tool? What things have you added recently that have enhanced your teaching? I'd love to know! You can reply below or send me a message. It would be fun to get to know you and your studio, too. Happy teaching!.


Photo by Ron Lach : https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-an-untidy-and-messy-white-wooden-closet-8454347/

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