Collaboration in the Studio

Collaboration in the Studio
Sunday musings...

What does this mean to singer and teacher???  This "collaboration"?

This does not mean you are peers (otherwise, why would the singer be in a teacher's studio at the moment?)

It does not mean that because the singer is paying for the teacher's time, that the singer dictates the terms of that lesson time and tells the teacher how that lesson will go! If the singer thinks she/he can dictate, then why bother going to a teacher?  Sounds like you should be teaching, knock yourself out!

This does not mean the teacher "takes over" and makes the hour about her/him with no regard to the singer's needs or queries either.  All singers are not the same, therefore, the approach MUST be individual. When the teacher teaches the material and not the individual, or simply DICTATES this is not teaching.

Collaboration comes from mutual respect,  mutual recognition,  mutual said and unsaid response of what is needed NOW.

Collaboration in the studio should result in a POSITIVE end.  That end should be reflected IN THE SINGER.

When collaborating with new singers,  I always ask "why are you here?"  Sometimes the answer is silence;  sometimes the answer is general;  sometimes the answer is specific.  It gives me a great deal of information about the sensibility of the singer in front of me.

Often singers have very specific reasons for being in the studio;  sometimes those reasons and goals are very aware of the singer's potential, of the singer's current state of technical prowess - and other times - they simply show the singer's unawareness of where they are in their development.

The collaboration comes in the teacher's recognition of what they are asking the singer and how to interpret the answers they get!

When I ask and get an answer, then we work, in order to find out what is going on.  Do I address the answer?  Of course!!! However, of the answer to my question has no relevance YET to the singer, then I can say, "this is something we can look at, however, I see/hear/observe these things we need to address FIRST in order for what you are wanting to achieve to be possible."

Collaboration leaves no room for nasty-ness, or rudeness from teacher OR singer.  Collaboration is about openness, thoughtfulness and possibilities.  If the singer believes the teacher is not addressing his or her needs,  then they are free to leave and never return and find someone that will be better suited.  The teacher also has this prerogative:  if a singer chooses to be disrespectful or rude,  or simply not a singer that the teacher wants to invest time in for ANY reason,  that teacher can simply make a decision not to teach said singer.

Collaboration needs communication.  Communication must be open and real and honest in the studio.  Sometimes it needs to be brutal if a singer isn't listening.  Sometimes it needs to be coaxed gently if the singer cannot hear.  And if the communication cannot be established - from either direction - then collaboration simply cannot be.  The system just does not work for these two individuals and another choice must be made.

True singer/teacher collaboration, in my experience, happens when both individuals are willing and open to explore.  A singer works with a teacher to learn to teach him/herself.  A teacher works with a singer to learn to find the truth for that singer to embody and finally become obsolete.  A teacher teaches to become a better teacher.

Dictatorships from EITHER direction do not work:  "My way or the highway" from a teacher leaves no room for growth, for observation or for a possible change.  "We are working on THIS today" from a singer leaves no possibility to allow for true learning.

I will ask a singer "What have you brought today?"  because I believe in that respect.  If a singer has a specific aria/song/goal that week, I want to know about it.  I want to know what you've worked on,  what you are discovering,  what you are concerned about!  YOUR journey is crucial to how the hour in the studio is patterned.

However,  the whole point of seeing a teacher is to access those ears, eyes, experience, expertise so if the hour begins to shape itself to what is necessary for the SINGER because of what that singer begins to do in the studio,  then both singer and teacher must be pliable enough to allow it to morph and shape to the Singer's NEEDS not necessarily either person's WANTS or DESIRES.

Collaboration in the studio then takes on a life of its own - and extends to the respect of the space between and how it is shaped organically and created by the energies that inhabit it.

What we want, isn't always what we need.  What we need to collaborate on in the possibility that this is fluid and are we willing and able to follow it?

Can we "get off the script" and allow for a change if a change is necessary?

True collaboration allows for this.  A true learning and teaching balance MUST allow for this for truth to be achieved.

Respect for the possibility of collaboration allows MORE possibilities!  Disrespect shuts the process down before it begins.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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