Not a stalker in the boil-your-pet-rabbit-on-the-stove sense, but in pressuring you to study with them and only them.
I’ve seen it before, voice teachers using the authority and trust given by a student to manipulate them stay with the teacher longer than necessary.
Some teachers will use guilt, pressure and even suggestions of friendship to pressure the student into continued study, even when improvement has slowed or stopped.
Are You Just a Number?
A voice teacher was complaining to me about losing a student. When I suggested their new teacher was highly competent and sometimes it’s beneficial for a student to get new insights and viewpoints, the teacher snapped “she was worth $4,000 a year to me!” The student was little more than a dollar sign to her.
Students have told me about teachers calling them to guilt them into more lessons – “how can you study with someone else after all I’ve done for you?”
The Personal Trainer Argument
Some teachers like to use the analogy of a personal trainer at the gym – you can’t workout on your own – ever.
They will keep the student in weekly lessons for years, even after the student has gained the skills necessary for their singing goals or their gig.
They will convince the student that if they stop lessons they will fall into terrible habits and ruin their voices.
The fact is, once you have reached a certain level, you can become your own voice coach. Your teacher should be checked in with periodically, but every week becomes a waste of money, especially if all the teacher is doing is vocalizing you.
Vocal Monogamy Sucks
You need to explore other teachers now and again, no matter how much you like your voice teacher. If your teacher protests – I would advise you to leave.
A new teacher can explain a concept in a way that suddenly makes sense. You also get a boost of energy from a new learning experience. This can help put you in a heightened learning state.
Even if the new teacher is not very good, it will help solidify concepts and strengthen what your better teacher has taught you. Sometimes a bad experience will strengthen your good experiences.
Voice Teacher As Dear Friend
Some may not agree with this advice (and I often don’t follow my own advice) but I would careful about becoming close personal friends with your voice teacher.
It can cloud your objectivity, make you less likely to move on to a new teacher when it’s time, and it can be used against you by less scrupulous teachers. It’s often best to keep the relationship friendly but professional.
I know a great many voice teachers, and most of them are wonderful people who are committed to providing the best for their students, even if that means passing them along to another teacher.
I do know the other side of this profession as well. Unfortunately there is a problem with ego in this business, so much so that a book has been written about it. Along with the egos comes jealousy and selfishness. Students are often caught in the crossfire of teacher feuds and competition.
Remember, you the student are in charge. This is a service industry and you are paying for a service, just as you do with a hairdresser or gardner. Do not hesitate to make changes or seek new information for your voice and career.
If your teacher has a problem with it, get a restraining order and move on.