Cafetalk Featured Tutor Interview

Ayaka K

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English Japanese Song

Ayaka K Tutor Interview

Q. Hi Ayaka K! Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. May we ask you to briefly introduce yourself?

A. Hello. I appreciate this opportunity to introduce myself to all of you.

My name is Ayaka and I perform as a vocalist in a piano & vocal unit. I used to be a singer-songwriter for a music agency. I currently cover songs from Western and Japanese music with slower arrangements, and I am distributing a series of cover songs on YouTube under the name “Jo&A..” I plan on streaming a lot more in the near future, so please subscribe to my channel if you would like to listen to me sing!

I often teach in classrooms, where I give recording and vocal lessons in person, while also teaching English to children as an English trainer. In the future, I would like to create video content for babies and their caregivers to sing and learn English, so I am currently working on developing educational materials.

I have been teaching vocal lessons and English/Japanese pronunciation correction lessons on Cafetalk from July 2023.I enjoy teaching lessons every day and am grateful for having this opportunity.

Q. Please tell us more about your hometown and the area where you currently reside.

A. I am from Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture. It is known as the place where the first Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, spent his childhood. In summer, a large-scale fireworks show is held near Okazaki Castle, which attracts a large number of spectators. “八丁味噌 (Hatcho miso),” a traditional miso from the Edo period, is also a specialty of this area. I too, love miso soup made with Hatcho miso!

As a student, I studied abroad for a total of four years in Taipei (Taiwan), Beijing (China), and Santiego, California, (USA). After that, I worked as a singer in Tokyo.

I currently live in Miyazaki City, Miyazaki Prefecture. It is a place with a relaxed, tropical atmosphere, but at the same time, it is a free and vibrant city where many young people are realizing what they want to do with their lives based on their own lifestyles. Since I came to Miyazaki, I too have started to do what I enjoy doing.

There is a word in the Miyazaki dialect, “てげてげ (tegetege),” which means “in moderation.” It is a place where you are encouraged to be yourself, as if someone were telling you that “It’s okay not to be perfect.”

Q. What motivated you to become a tutor on Cafetalk?

A. I was first inspired to teach online as I wanted to offer lessons not only in the area where I live, but to a wider audience. In fact, I have been able to meet many students here on Cafetalk, of all nationalities, from many different countries and regions. I really am delighted for this opportunity.

Initially, I was thinking mainly of vocal lessons with people who wanted to be able to sing better, people who want to be able to sing Western music, and people from overseas who wanted to sing Japanese songs. I had originally planned to offer English/Japanese pronunciation correction as part of my vocal lessons, but many of my students asked for me to offer lessons focused on pronunciation correction instead of offering it as a part of the vocal lessons, so I started offering lessons focused on pronunciation correction as well. Currently, 70% of the lesson requests I receive are for vocal lessons, but I have been offering more Japanese pronunciation correction lessons than I had anticipated.

Since language is a collection of sounds, it can be changed to the correct sound by adjusting various combinations of muscles, articulation, rhythm, movement, pitch, ups and downs, and strength. It is the same with singing. I am reminded here that vocal training goes hand in hand with correcting pronunciation, as my students’ pronunciation improves so much after each lesson.

Q. What are you usually up to when you're not teaching on Cafetalk? What are your hobbies and interests?

A. Lately, I have been mainly practicing songs that I use in my vocal lessons during my free time. Since my personal interests and career are nearly the same, I spend most of my time singing or working. My work space serves as both a classroom and studio for my lessons, where I have students come in, record for YouTube, edit sound files, plan my lesson content, as well as to hold meetings to discuss about my teaching materials.

Other than that, I enjoy planning and decorating my room. I renovated my work space by myself over a period of two months. To separate my private work space from my studio, I built a partition in the middle, built and fixed a wooden frame on the window to make it soundproof, filled it with soundproofing material, boarded it up, and made a blackboard there as well. I also built a small stage for children to stand and sing, or practice their speeches. The paint I used for the walls and ceilings initially did not come out as I had planned, so I don't know how many colors and cans of paint I bought and mixed. I haven't worked on it since it was completed and I had opened it up as a classroom, but I look up and think about repainting the color of the pillars, such as “maybe a brighter blue wpould work…” or “no, maybe a green would be better…” and so on. In my free time, I often wonder about these.

Q. A lot of students are probably curious about the atmosphere in your lessons. What can a student imagine a lesson with you to be like? What’s your teaching style?

A. For my vocal lessons, I use songs that the students themselves want to practice singing. Many of my students want to sing with the same vocal tones and singing style as the original. I find it very effective to learn different vocal variations by imitating the sounds of professionals. For this reason, when I give lessons on songs with vocals, tunes, and rhythms that I do not usually perform, I prepare by analyzing the tune and practicing beforehand. This allows me sing as closely to the original as possible which will help provide accurate training methods.

Usually, in my lessons, we will first adjust our breathing and tune level before we start practicing a piece of music. In the very beginning of your course, we will spend a lot of time tuning the sound of the notes, so an hour-long lesson can often end with practicing just a single phrase. Since we will be practicing songs while making sure to master the basics, it will take 5 to 8 hours to sing one song all the way through. In order to ensure that the fundamentals are in place, students will also be asked to do independent training on their own. Once your vocals have stabilized,we will begin detailed instruction in more advanced singing techniques to improve the overall expressiveness of the song.

The flow for my Japanese and English pronunciation correction lessons is to review pronunciations from A to Z for English, and the 50 sounds for Japanese, and then move on to practicing reading words and sentences. One sound at a time, one sentence at a time, we will check the pronunciation, consonant and vowel balance, rhythm, pitch, and articulation, and provide necessary vocal advice to correct your pronunciation. The rhythm exercises, in particular, are like music lessons, so students who take them for the first time often have a “is this really necessary?!” look on their faces, but after two or three lessons, they are all able to read with beautiful pronunciations. We will use any manuscript or text that the student wishes to use for reading practice. If you don't have specific text in mind, we will practice reading lyrics from your favorite song. Anyone from beginner to intermediate level who wants to practice pronunciation is welcome to take my courses. Please come and join me to correct your pronunciation using vocal training!

Q. Which lessons would you recommend to your students?

A. For first-time students who are interested in my courses, I usually first ask them to book my lesson that has wither “Trial Lesson” or “Initial Consultation” in the title. First, I will check your current basic vocal ability and pronunciation, ask you what kind of lessons you would like to have in the future, and together we will plan how to proceed with your lessons.

For those who want to learn vocals from the basics, I recommend my “Vocal Training for Beginners/Intermediate/Learners who wants to improve at singing”; for those who want to learn the basics of vocals and correct their English pronunciation at the same time, I recommend my “Vocal Training for Those Who Want to Learn to Sing Western Music x English Pronunciation Correction.”

For those who are from overseas and want to take vocal lessons to practice Japanese songs, I recommend my “Vocal Training for Overseas learners/learners who want to sing Japanese songs x Japanese Pronunciation Correction”.

For those who want to correct their Japanese or English pronunciation, I recommend my "Japanese Correction x Vocal Training" and "English Pronunciation Correction x Vocal Training," in which we will do pronunciation correction while practicing reading sentences, conversational texts, business terms, speech manuscripts, and so on.

After you take your initial “Trial Lesson/Initial Consultation," students can take lessons for as many hours as they like according to their own target level. If you have any questions or concerns about my lessons, please don't hesitate to ask me anytime via message.

Q. Finally, would you like to leave a message for your current and future students?

A. Thank you to all of you who always come to my lessons, smiling and enjoying their lessons each time. Hearing each of you say, “I'm so happy to be able to finally do this!” always makes me feel so blessed. I look forward to continue working with you.

To the students I will meet in the future, if you have any interest in trying, please don't hesitate to join me for a lesson. I will do my best to make sure that you continue to enjoy learning. I look forward to meeting you!


Ayaka K

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