Whether you are still building your voice/rebuilding/working out details or checking in occasionally - how actively involved are you in the process?
Perhaps that sounds ridiculous, but I see it time and again.
One of the first things I ask a potential singer who comes to see me is "What can I do for you? How can I help you?" I am amazed at the blank stares that are the response and the simple "no one's ever asked me that before."
With singers that work with me - I ask each time "How is your voice? What are you discovering? What is your plan for today?"
Obviously, this plan can change, but it gives me, the teacher, a sense of what YOU the singer, see and acknowledge and what you are there to achieve.
This is absolutely CRUCIAL. A singer must be RESPONSIBLE and INVOLVED in their development - including the lesson time. Perhaps what your goals are need to be modified as the teacher delves more deeply into where you are - but then the two of you are involved in the process of YOUR voice.
Singers who walk into a studio with a passivity will get no real development. The passivity will carry into the practicing and the singer will not be able to learn HOW to do and WHY to do and will rely on the teacher in unhealthy ways. Even if the teacher has great things to offer the singer, if the singer remains passive and does not take responsibility for the involvement in his/her development and knowledge, he/she will miss so much and ultimately will not evolve.
Staying pliable as a singer is not the same as remaining passive!!! If you are pliable to allow possibilities and get involved in the development, marvellous things can occur!
Passive/aggressive behavior isn't involved or evolved either. If all you do is question and demand and create a negative and demanding atmosphere, this is not conducive to learning, receiving or discovering.
First and foremost - why are you there? YOU need to know that. It can be as detailed or as general as it needs to be, given your development. Perhaps you don't know. It's time to find out. Discover this WITH your teacher and with yourself!!
What are your goals? Are they doable? Are they too broad? Too specific? Are they realistic? DISCUSSION is key. A teacher should not "take over" your goals but should be able to help you create goals that are realistic and motivating.
A teacher cannot read your mind! You must DISCUSS with her/him what you are there TO DO. This will help the teacher determine what they can do to help YOU. If you walk into a studio where there is no room for discussion and it is all about the teacher, RUN. If you walk into a studio where there is no structure and the passivity comes from the teacher, RUN.
There must be involvement in your development from YOU and from the teacher.
Singers cannot blame the teacher completely if they do not become involved in their development and in their lessons. Passive behavior does not allow for true development. Singing is DOING and the doing must come from the one doing the singing!!!! If you are not getting what you believe you NEED even after staying pliable and creating a dialogue with a teacher and coming to a common ground, then you must find another teacher. Blaming that teacher is just an excuse. You are wasting time!!!! FIND WHAT YOU NEED!
Now, on the other hand, there are singers who don't want to hear the truth. This is another kind of passivity. Perhaps there are vocal issues and they want a quick fix. They don't want to hear it's going to take time. They want it now, and they will keep moving from teacher to teacher until they find someone who will enable their passivity and tell them they are fine. This is not taking responsibility for your voice or your development either. Going through the motions is not singing. "Make me feel good" is not singing.
True singing and true artistry takes time, self-discipline, self-observation, self-doubt, self-discovery, self-awareness, self-TRUTH. The teacher needs to be someone who can reflect that TRUTH and help you move into the direction of further discovery.
As a teacher, I cannot be more involved in your discovery and development than you are. If you are passive, if you don't really care, then why should I? Why should the teacher care more about YOU than you do?
If you want to develop and build and see the possibilities and live the journey, then that means work and that means involvement in YOU. That means INVESTING IN YOU. That means letting go of the security blanket of passivity, of "good enough" and dare to involve yourself in your GREATNESS whatever that is.
Passive behavior means no movement. It just sits and isn't aware. It pretends to itself. Often it doesn't fool anyone else but the one being passive. Involved behavior may not always be pretty or what you were thinking, but it will show the truth and the path you NEED to work toward.
Work isn't always glamorous. Work means sweat and dirt under your nails. But I would much rather be exhausted knowing I have something REAL at the end of the day that I can truly CLAIM, than just sitting and pretending.
What about you?
Do you know why you are studying? Do you know WHAT you are studying? Do you know what you want to achieve overall? At each individual lesson? It's time to get involved!!!
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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