Dear Students of Voice

Dear Students of Voice
If we are singing,  no matter the level we remain students of the discipline.

However,  this is specifically to you,  the student who is at the beginning of this journey.

The discipline of singing REQUIRES discipline.  That discipline has to come from YOU the singer.

There is a great deal of entitlement in our society these days.  However,  the expectation of having things done FOR you as a singer just doesn't fly.  You and ONLY YOU have to do the work. Nobody is going to cut up your food and feed you.  Those of you who expect that are simply in the wrong arena. 

Discipline comes from SELF.  It is guided by outside sources until you understand what is needed to get the work done yourself.

How can you honor that discipline and learn how to embrace it fully?


There is nothing more frustrating for a teacher than to take the time to create a written document with everything clearly set out and then have a student respond and ask for an exception; or to simply not read it and ask a question that is clearly communicated already; or to make a decision NOT to follow instructions and wonder why they are penalized; or to continue to be excuse-ridden and never do the work.

Now, don't misunderstand me.  Not all of you are like that.  In fact, many of you who read this blog are not!!  However, you have colleagues who are.  My suggestion:  if you think someone needs to read this - forward it through the holiday season!  It might allow them to have a moment of clarity!

5 basic principles to begin your study of voice DISCIPLINE.

1.  READ:  what are the instructions.  This is the recipe you have to follow.  If you try to change it, the end result will NOT be favorable.

2.  COMPREHEND:  what are the instructions SAYING?!  There is little to no room to re-interpret.  If a class requires you to be ready to sing a jury for marks and the music MUST be memorized, that doesn't mean you can have the score there!  If it says you MUST be there at XY o'clock to perform at AB o'clock,   then that's the discipline.  You can't re-adjust that.  Your entitlement doesn't exist in this arena.  Be there or fail.  Pretty simple.  Still your choice,  but the parameters are clear.  Comprehension skills don't need to interpret.

3.  FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS:  what does the course require of you?  Again,  your actual existence in the world may be enough for your mother or father or grandparents, but if you are in school,  just being alive isn't getting you a passing grade!  The discipline of following instructions is a very simple process.  Do what you need to do to get the course!  If the process means the paper has to be X number of pages or more,  doing less doesn't win you points.  If the process says you need to sing 3 songs by memory and you sing 2 - you haven't followed the instructions and will be penalized.  You have no right to get holier than thou if you simply haven't followed the instructions. 

4.  MAKE NO EXCUSES:  but...I didn't know...and I thought if...

Excuses don't fly.  Period.  If you read, understood and followed direction,  there is no room for excuses.  Period.  If you have enough energy to create excuses you could have used that energy and done what was required in the first place. 

5.  DO THE WORK.  Imagine,  just following the instructions,  comprehend it, and getting to work and DOING THE WORK!!!  The requirement is doing the work.  Do the work to the best of your ability.  Part of the discipline of voice is the self-discipline of preparation and performance.  If you have chosen the discipline of singing as a course of study, then STUDY and do the work.  This is not a study that is for the faint of heart.  This is a course of study that requires focus,  concentration,  consistency,  specificity,  and detail.  There is no room for complacency. 

The study of voice will give you an opportunity to develop a work ethic that will serve you well throughout your life,  whether singing becomes a professional pursuit or not. 

It is called a discipline because that is what it requires.  If you don't discover and practice this discipline,  it will not suddenly appear.  Teachers and mentors can encourage and guide, but they cannot do the work for you.  That is up to you.  Your successes are then yours,  and so are your failures.  How you choose to explore and take on the discipline is up to you.  If the expectation is set out for you clearly and you choose not to respect that - you take the result.  Don't delude yourself into thinking it's someone else's fault.

Those singers who simply follow the instructions will begin to discover how to discipline,  how to explore the discipline and how to grow within the discipline.  The work will get done;  the comprehension will deepen;  the truth will be revealed and understood.


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

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