As we enter the last week of August, the fall season is upon us!
That means school for some, the season of auditions and performance season for others...
As things wind up again, perhaps it's time to revisit the question of WHO you study with and WHY. I have had numerous emails and messages throughout the summer from singers who are dealing with interesting situations and as we enter "work mode" again, let's revisit this issue.
I begin with this statement: We have all had to survive bad teaching. The key word for me is "survive". We need to recognize that we are survivors and we CAN survive and we DO HAVE CHOICES.
Let's begin with those of you in school. Politics exist here in a very special way (!) and being aware of the cesspool is an important component. Sadly, in my experience, even when you are very careful, some people really don't have lives and just make stuff up anyway!
First and foremost, this is YOUR education. You are paying for it!! If you feel you and your current voice teacher are not a good fit, for ANY reason, you should seek out a change. Easier said than done I know! Learning how to LOOK AFTER SELF and how to look after your voice and your vocal studies is IMPERATIVE!!! You should never let a system or a person bully you in any way. You don't need to go into graphic detail about why you want to change studios, but if you feel it is necessary to change, then put it into motion. Keep your mouth shut with your fellow students. Keep your business to yourself. Go through the proper channels and make the request and hopefully the change can be made.
If you are "stuck" - and sadly, I know it happens - then make a determination of how you will conduct yourself and what you can do to make the best of the situation. Make a clear distinction of what you CAN take from your lessons, what you are going to invest and what your boundaries are. If you know how you will enter the studio it will empower you to keep you on track and not be drawn away from your purpose of being there. You are making the best of a situation you cannot change.
May I also suggest to you - younger generation - that there ARE things to learn, and perhaps even though you are not in the studio you wish to be, for whatever reason, perhaps if you walk into the studio you are currently in, you can decide to make yourself available to learn WHATEVER is there to learn. You can learn to discern between real information and how to translate that into something you can use, and unnecessary, irrelevant politics, personality issues and the like. This is part of becoming an artist: learning to edit, learning to adjust, learning to re-create in order to take something positive from a situation and assimilate it into your matrix!
I shall use the saying my father always gave me: Keep your own counsel. This will keep you aware of your self and your surroundings. Becoming an artist takes sacrifice, knowledge, choices and awareness! School politics is an interesting microcosm that may teach you much if you are willing to pay attention and not fall into the trap of them!
To those of you who are discovering your professional self, the teacher you work with must be someone who fulfills your needs at the time. True teachers teach you how to teach yourself so that you are never obligated nor tied to the apron strings!! Know what you are looking for and pursue that! Know that your needs may change, and therefore, your teacher may change depending on what their expertise is. THIS IS OKAY!!! Moving on from one teacher doesn't mean you are severing a relationship - you are moving on. Keep it simple. If a teacher is worth his/her weight as a professional, they recognize this happens!! In fact, they should send you off with their blessing to pursue and grow!
Teaching is not about control, abuse or mind games! Teaching is not about the teacher! Teaching is about KNOWLEDGE and TRUTH and allowing a safe place in which to explore that knowledge as it pertains to each individual singer that walks into the studio. Teaching is about the growth of the student!!! When the student grows and learns and understands and is able to create what they need, the true teacher REJOICES! If the teacher needs more control, you need to leave. Yesterday.
Know what you need. Know what you want. Know what you are pursuing. Find that teacher that will fulfill that for this time. Knowing your worth as an artist and a human being will keep you focused on what you DESERVE in your studies. Studying with the "it" teacher doesn't mean anything if it doesn't support your needs or pursuits. The teacher doesn't do the audition, the teacher doesn't sing the role, the teacher doesn't get the reviews: YOU DO. You do NOT represent your teacher. You represent YOURSELF.
Find your code, your ethic, and in doing so, find that teacher that embraces that, among all the other things that are important to your studies at this time!
Is it possible? Of course it is! If singers start recognizing their worth as HUMAN BEINGS first, the teachers we survive will go the way of the dinosaurs and we can move past survival and really begin to LIVE!
GO GET IT!!! And enjoy the journey!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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