the conversation you have with your teacher

the conversation you have with your teacher
pre-New Year musings...

I cannot speak for all voice teachers.  I can only speak for myself. 

I can speak for myself as a teacher,  and as a singer and student of singing and what has gone on with my mentors and teachers I hold in the highest regard.

I talk a great deal about the conversation you need to have with yourself as an artist,  but we don't often speak of the conversation we have with our teachers and how we need to understand it.

We as artists, are in competition with our previous selves.  If the teacher understands competition, the conversation develops thus.  I know mine does.

As singers,  we cannot and should not interpret  "good work"  with "you are ready for Broadway" or "you are ready for the Met" or any other house or company or role you deem as something you would want.

I love seeing my singers get it!  I love seeing them develop, begin to put the pieces together,  discover their instruments,  claim their voices and find out their possibilities.

However,  in discovering these possibilities,  the conversation can be misunderstood.

No one can guarantee anything.  A teacher can render a professional opinion,  but their primary focus is to help you help yourself.  A teacher needs to be there to support your journey,  not give you a destination!  As a singer,  you need to be sure you are not misinterpreting what a teacher is saying during a lesson.

I believe in honesty.  I also believe in positive reinforcement.  However,  when I encourage, build up and motivate a singer it is from a place of discovery.  It is from a place of where were you, and where are you NOW?

"You have made significant progress"  cannot be translated to "I am ready to be a professional singer".  "You had a great lesson today"  does not mean you don't need more work!

See where I am going with this?  I love watching my singers leave the studio with a spring in their step when they know they are DOING the work,  they are developing their craft, and on a path to become a better SELF. 

The process of journey does not equal arrival,  nor does it equal desire.

A teacher can be honest and still be supportive and encouraging.  Supportive and encouraging to discover what needs to be done,  and also to remind you how far you have come.  It is so important to remind yourself of that.  Looking back doesn't mean dragging baggage - but often it is a reminder of the journey thus far:  that you HAVE developed,  and in what ways,  and you ARE developing and moving forward.

I encourage you to really ask questions,  and to really LISTEN to your conversation with your teacher.  Do not assume your translation is what that teacher said,  if you do not hear those exact words.  Words of encouragement,  words of specificity of what you are discovering and accomplishing cannot mean anything else but what is SAID.

What you WANT to hear isn't always what you NEED to hear.

Encouragement and reality is a balance we need to establish as teacher and singer in order to find the truth of YOU in your studies and in your pursuit of where you want to discover and what you want to discover.

Nobody can guarantee a career.  Nobody can guarantee a path.  There are no guarantees.  What you choose to pursue has to be your choice.  A teacher is there to help you discover your best self within your ability,  your development,  your natural endowments and your attributes and how you can find truth in technique,  in craft and in artistry. 

We aren't after perfection.   What is that anyway?  We aren't after disillusionment.  What is the point?  We are after TRUTH.  We are after REALITY.  We are after DEVELOPMENT as it relates to YOU. 

How you then relate that truth and reality and development and READINESS to the development and possibility of a career is up to how the business works. 

Do not confuse your conversation with your teacher in pursuit of vocal development with a conversation for business purposes.  These are simply not the same conversation and cannot be interchangeable.

So have those conversations with your teacher.  Listen to what they are SAYING and WHY.  Do not substitute anyone's judgement for your own,  but know who you are entrusting what to and what expertise you are standing in front of.

If you are not sure what the conversation is,  then pay closer attention.  Ask.  As a teacher,  we need to be honest and supportive.  As a singer, we need to be real and open to the answers we ask for.

The path still belongs to the singer.  The teacher is simply there to guide, illuminate and keep you on the straight and narrow.  You as singer still have a choice to participate with a real conversation, or let the new translation take over in your own head!

What is being said?  Why is it being said? Are you hearing?  Are you listening? 

It IS your choice.  To converse, to listen and to hear.

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

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