Open Mindedness

Some people think they know everything and refuse to learn new information because they strongly believe they already know what they need to know. This idea is deadly but it, sadlly, is not uncommon, in all kinds of areas.

Figuring out that you might have new information to learn would take a sense of humility, particularly if you are someone who has a vested interest in the information you have gathered. Asking questions about what you already know or what you have learned is frightening. What if you discover that something you value highly is wrong? What if something that you have done for decades was never right in the first place? How do you live with that?

Admitting you are wrong or that you don’t know everything seems like a very human thing to do. We were never meant to be perfect and it is folly to think that anyone, no matter how smart, can know all there is to know on any given topic. Life is about discovery, so you have to keep looking in order to keep finding what’s new. If you stay at home and never do anything to shake yourself up, you will rust.

Nevertheless, if you are in a position of power or status, if you are “Dr. Someone Special” and you run a department or program and others look to you as an expert, it can’t be easy to say, I am going to go learn what’s new. I imagine you struggle with thoughts like “What will my colleagues think”? or “What will my students think”? You would have to be very secure as a person to let go of any thoughts that others will judge you negatively, if you live in a world in which that happens as a matter of course, and teachers in schools and universities are judged routinely as part of their jobs.

A private teacher has no such worries. He or she can sit at home in their studio and never be judged by anyone except students, who, after all, are students. If you don’t go to any conferences or belong to any of the professional organizations, you don’t have to confront the evaluations of or comparisons to others who might indeed know more than you and do things you can’t do or have never even thought of doing.

Everybody likes being right. Everyone wants to “look good” and be accepted by others, unless they are a sociopath. Particularly as an artist, it is difficult to do your art alone. We need collaborators most of the time. Being alone a lot is very isolating and not a great environment in which to be creative as a performer. (It’s not impossible, just hard).

We all need to remain open minded and curious, we all need to learn continuously and broadly and we all need to understand that things change as we know more. Keeping your attitude flexible and accepting of new techniques and research ought to be a requisite for any teacher but in a teacher of singing it is vitally important to keep an open mind. New information is brought forth through research every day. You don’t have to be a voice scientist to stay open minded but you do have to be a singing teacher (or singer) who is willing to re-write her beliefs every time new information is proven through research, whether you agree with it or not.

Open-mindedness is the only way to go.

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One thought on “Open Mindedness”

  1. Thanks for this. Being an effective teacher requires an interest in, a commintent to life-long learning. It’s refreshing to know so many kindred spirits in the Somatic Voicework©, the LoVetri Method, who share this philosophy. I choose to remain a private voice teacher so that I can chart my own path, answer to no institution and be the best I can be. I LOVE to synthesize knowledge from the many fields that inform singing. The more connections that are made among various practices–physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, yoga, Alexander Technique, Linklater, Feldenkreis, acting training, dance training, sports training, science– the more we discover how this information complements itself. It’s complex and yet it’s paradoxically simple. I want to live a humble and thus joyful life!

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