Reflections On Teaching Voice
Those of you who know me are probably aware I have made some big changes in my teaching career over the past few years. Changes in teaching technique and business partnerships have taught me some valuable lessons. In this year-end time of reflection, I would to share some of these thoughts and observations with you.
Here they are, in no particular order :
1, There is no one true vocal method.
2. There is no one greatest vocal authority or teacher.
3. A scale is only a tool for the teacher to do their best listening. No scale belongs to a particular technique.
4. Scales are ultimately a trap. Real music doesn’t occur in repeating major triad patterns. Get the student into music ASAP.
5. That being said, learn more scales.
6. Don’t teach scared.
7. Unfinished sounds can be a trap. Hooty sounds can stop vocal strain, but have little else to do with real singing.
8. No one pays to hear great scale singers.
9. A small section of a song can make a great, scale-replacing musical exercise.
10. Vowels shades are nearly infinite. Learn them all.
11. We are not celebrities. We may be lucky enough to work with them but we exist on the same level as hair dressers and personal trainers.
12. Once a level of competent mediocrity has been reached, salespeople trump skilled technicians.
13. Teaching is a true service industry.
14. Once you stop learning, you are no longer relevant as a teacher. You can still coast on your past reputation and student list – but that’s all you will have.
15. If a student says that you are the best teacher ever, don’t believe them.
16. Associate with passionate voice teachers, even if you don’t agree with everything they say.
17. Even teachers you completely disagree with are right about something.
18. Just about every teacher is wrong about something.
19. Always be prepared to have your strongest held beliefs proven untrue.
20. If you are completely devoted to one single method or teacher, you will never grow to your true potential.
21. The student’s goals and desires are more important than your technique.
22. Vocal technique is not even close to the highest level of singing. Communication is.
23. Admitting you are wrong is more powerful than always being right.
24. If a voice teacher has an answer for EVERTHING, they are likely shoveling some BS your way.
25. If a teacher never says “I don’t know,” they definitely don’t.
26. Ego is the nursemaid of mediocrity. When you find them together get as far away as you can.
27. “Those who can’t do, teach” is unfortunately sometimes true.
28. Teachers who consistently bash famous singers obviously have no idea what a major career is like.
29. Small gaps in understanding can lead to major problems for your students.
30. If you and science disagree, science is right.
31. You cannot learn enough about music.
32. Style is more important for the singer than technique.
33. Few of my favorite artists sing with consistent, perfect technique.
34. We can, though humility, dedication and service, truly change lives.
Here’s wishing all of us continued growth and success in the new year!