Hi, first of all, I want to thank you for your this blog and all the information in it…
I just read some previous post and comments…I noticed some people questioned about your capacity as voice instructor…well, I’d like to say that being a career singer and being a voice instructor are not the same job. You don’t need to be a perfect model of the concepts you teach, a teacher doesn’t have to be the most perfect singer in the world…if things were that way, then only a few singers in the whole world could teach how to sing…Even best singers had teachers who were not famous or perfect… Being a teacher, or a guide to some one else is about being capable of bringing the best out of the person who trusted you.
The instructor is the torch which guides in the darkness… not the map to get to a destination…each singer will walk a different way to get where they want…the instructor will light the way but won’t be the eyes of the walker…The light will show the bridge to cross the river (which is the safest way to cross it)..but it is up to the walker if they want to use it or if they want to jump to the current and try to get to the other side…some super talented swimmers will succeed, while others will drown…
Yes, there are many ways to cross a river, but we must agree that using the bridge is the safest.
About this approach to singing…there are many people out there walking with their hands…this approach only says “notice you have feet, use them”… I am sure many will applaud the acrobatics of those walking with their hands, but only those waking with their feet can run, or jump, or reach the end of the road…
Thanks for the valuable help you are giving…
I received this comment on the post with a testimonial from a client. I felt that what he says is very helpful and well-stated. The very first point he makes is golden. Being a singer and helping others learn how to use their voices are completely different skills. They are obviously related. And you would rarely become an instructor without having been a singer to some degree. But to be skillful at one does not equate to skill in the other.
I do consider myself a singer and I do perform on occasion. And I like to think I am pretty good. I know I am better than some and probably not as good as others and I am always working on improving. Obviously I don’t perform at an international level or even at regional opera companies. I could try and search for reasons for this, some would make sense and some might sound like excuses. But the bottom line is my path has not led to being a professional performer.
I have consistently been drawn towards figuring out the voice and understanding how it works. Along the way I have learned that I have an ability to take that understanding and communicate it to others so they can easily understand their own voice. This ability has made helping others on their journey much more rewarding than trying to be a performer myself.
The comments about the teacher being a guide is exactly how I see my role. He uses the illustration of being the torch, which is very accurate. I have often described the situation with my clients as being a guide to the blind. As a singer who is figuring out their voice, we are like a blind person. We can’t see how our voice works. We can’t see the path to coordination. We are forced to rely on our sense of touch and hearing to find our way. In order to become self-sufficient in the world the blind person needs to learn how to get around their home first, and then how to, for instance, get to the bus stop to go to work or the grocery store.
At first this would seem like an impossibility without the aid of sight. Knowing which way to go, crossing streets, taking the correct turns. Difficult and dangerous situations that a person with the ability to see takes for granted.
But with the work of a guide, someone who can see the way, the blind can learn how to negotiate the challenges of everyday life. Through repetition and correction, the need for the guide gradually decreases. Eventually the blind person can get around and accomplish all that they desire.
This is essentially the same process we go through as a singer. The guide can see the way, but we can’t. This is because in this case the guide is also blind but they have learned to “see” with their sensations. They know the path the singer needs to experience in order to learn the way. At first, even as the singer is guided down the correct path, there is not much certainty about what has been experienced. It takes repetitions of the same path before the singer can feel their way along on their own.
Gradually the path becomes more and more familiar to the singer, and they are able to travel on their own more successfully. They begin to be able to “see” with their sensations as well. Sometimes when faced with new challenges it is like going down a path you haven’t been down before. So the use of a guide is necessary again. But every new path tends to be learned faster because of the experience that has been gained.
This analogy seems to be helpful to illustrate the nature of learning the skill of using the voice naturally. Please leave comments below if you found this helpful or if you have a questions. Thanks.