Question Everything

Hi, coach, nice to meet you.

Hello, Mary. Nice to meet you, too. What brings you here?

I was told you could help me prepare to be on the team. I’ve been preparing myself but I was told that I need training to be really good and get to a professional level.

That’s true, Mary, and I’m glad you came today to start working with me on improving your tennis game. I know a lot about tennis. I was a pro. Have you played a lot?

Yes, coach. I’ve been playing with my friends for about three years and I’ve actually been in local tournaments and won against much older players. I’m excited to start working with you on a lot of details. I promise to do whatever you say as I really want to be good.

Great. The first thing I want you to do is go learn to swim. If you want to play tennis, first you must learn to swim.

Swim?

Yes, swimming is a full body sport, right?

Um, yeah, I guess so.

And it makes you strong and flexible in your whole body, right?

Un-huh.

Well, everyone who is a great tennis player has learned to swim well first. In about two years you can add tennis to your training, but first, you must get good at swimming.

But, coach, I am in pretty good shape already. I run a lot when I play, and I ride my bike to school, and I am trim and have good muscle tone.

That’s great, Mary, as it will make your swimming get better much more quickly.

So, let me see if I understand you, coach. In order for me to learn to be a great tennis player, if I study with you, I have to first get good at swimming?

Absolutely, Mary. That’s the way it works.

OK, coach. I suppose I will learn to be a good swimmer and I will wait  two years to learn to improve my tennis game. I find that confusing, but I guess that everyone does.

That’s right, Mary. We don’t question the things that work.

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Hi, Professor Smith, nice to meet you.

Hello, Mary. Nice to meet you, too. What brings you here?

I was told you could help me prepare to be get into our school rock musical. I’ve been preparing myself but I was told that I need singing training to be really good and get to a professional level.

That’s true, Mary, and I’m glad you came today to start working with me on improving your singing. I know a lot about singing. I was a professional. Have you sung a lot?

Yes, Professor Smith. I’ve been singing at school for about three years and I’ve actually been in local bands and in musicals with much older singers. I’m excited to start working with you on a lot of details. I promise to do whatever you say as I really want to be good.

Great. The first thing I want you to do is learn to sing classical music. If you want to sing anything well, first you must learn to be a classical singer.

Classical singer?

Yes, classical singing works with your whole voice. You know that, right?

Um, yeah, I have heard that.

And it makes your voice strong and flexible, right?

I guess so.

Well, everyone who is a great singer has learned to do classical repertoire in foreign languages first. In about two years we can add music theater to your training and then, maybe after another two years we can add in rock, but first, you must get good at art songs or perhaps some opera in Italian, French and German.

But, coach, I only need to sing in English and I sing pretty well already. I have been a belter in some shows and I also sing as a soprano in church, and I never lose my voice.

That’s great, Mary, as it will make your classical singing get better much more quickly.

So, let me see if I understand you, Professor. In order for me to learn to be a great rock singer, if I study with you, I have to first be good at classical singing in foreign languages?

Absolutely, Mary. That’s the way it works.

OK, Professor. I suppose I will learn to be a good classical singer and I will wait two years to learn to be a music theater singer and then I will wait two more years to work on rock. I find that confusing, but I guess that’s what everyone does.

That’s right, Mary. We don’t question the things that work.

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A lot of people would find nothing wrong with the second scenario. Question that. Question that. 

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4 thoughts on “Question Everything”

  1. I have always been puzzled when parents tell me their child needs piano lessons, yet, the child wants to play the (insert name of instrument here). I love teaching and playing piano. There are many benefits to piano lessons but they certainly are not necessary for learning to play the flute, guitar, bass, you get the idea. Thanks Jeanie, on target as always.

  2. Jeanie,
    I love your writting, always so clear and so didactic. I met you in January 2005, through Luciana and I am very grateful to her to have introduced us. In 2006 I was in Shenandoah for my first time and again in 2010 and 2012 and I hope I can go many many times in the future. Your way of working with singers is singular and I love seeing you teaching. Although I have learned a lot in these 10 years, I always need a refreshing…
    Learnig to be patient with me and my students is a treasure you gave me. Learning that we know nothing about a person that come to see us for the first time. Learnig that even after a while sometimes we still know nothing. A person is a universe. I learn everyday with myself and my students. I am a much happier singer and a much happier teacher. Thank you! with love
    Beth

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