Things I've Learned from Teaching Voice, Part 1

on . Posted in Teaching.

things ive learned from teaching voice part 1In 2004 I started teaching voice. It was the last thing I wanted to do. Long story short, I thought I was too good for it, that I should be singing, not teaching, and I was soon proven completely and utterly wrong.

I LOVED it. My first student was an attorney who sang in the concert choir in the Musikverein Lippstadt and took voice lessons to enrich her life and so that she might enjoy her singing more. Other students followed, from teens who wanted to sing the choir music arrangements from Harry Potter to rock singers to adults who only wanted to sing classical music.

Since then I've taught hundreds and thousands of hours of voice and I'm happy to share with you several of the things I've learned. Here's Part 1.

1. Your students will always show you their utter humanity.

There isn't much more bittersweet than a teen telling you how much they really want to do well at contest or how frustrated she was that something went wrong in an audition. Teens (and adults) come to lessons as whole beings, which means they have all their hopes and their dreams and their own perfections and lack of perfections. Somehow I thought teaching voice would be really nice, fun, and somehow cute, yet students come to their lessons with every emotion you can possibly imagine--I am continually changed by the stories they share, how they connect with the text or with the music, and how much they seek my undivided attention. It is an honor to give it to them.

2. Your students will crack the funniest jokes you've ever heard.

I have a blog post started on this, and I'm still collecting the funnies. Stay tuned for this.

3. You will be witness to the most beautiful music... and no one else will ever hear it just like you heard it.

This is one of the toughest things I've learned and I learned it again yesterday. A student came in with a piece with a solo that she's auditioning for so we worked on it--by keeping it simple, and by focusing on the story and the perfectly written melody, her voice and the music, the story flowed out of her. The room (at the school) was hot so I had the door propped open and a teacher walked passed us--when the teacher heard her singing that song, it stopped him in his tracks. He looked at me, his eyes wide, and he just stopped and listened.

She was singing the story.