Want to know what gives me a real high?
Working with college students. Young adults have better concentration, can actually sit still, are more adventurous, and seem capable of grasping the abstractions inherent in singing better than young children or kids in high school. Whenever I encounter them, I find college students a whole lot of fun.
I worked this weekend at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island with wonderful students who did their best and were quite successful in their singing but were still able to take suggestions and improve further. All levels of ability were present and all levels of experience with singing from hardly any to quite a lot. It was joyful to work with them, exploring what they would discover as we “looked around” their vocal landscape. I even had an opportunity to work with a talented 11-year-old from outside (not a college student !) who had done some professional music theater work. That was exciting, too.
It’s great to have a job, as many of us do, that allows us to be in touch with singing and music. It’s great to share what we have gleaned through our years of training, experience and understanding, and it’s great to see it light up young minds with some kind of “new thought”. Really, what else is there to do with life experience but pass it on to the next generation? Isn’t that the greatest gift?
A teacher, no matter how effective, cannot teach someone who does not want to learn. She cannot teach someone who will not be open to new experiences, someone who has a set idea about what is or is not possible. She cannot teach if the student is not ready, willing and able to learn. The moment when a young person encounters anything that might feed a deep interest that could last a lifetime is an unknown. A teacher’s work could go on well after the teacher is no longer there. We may never see where the ripples go, but we can hope that they do go and that the effect they create is empowering.
I would like to thank colleagues Eric Bronner and Vaughn Bryner who brought me to Roger Williams and all the other wonderful people who, over the years, have invited me to their universities to work with students there. I enjoy working with adults, of course, and that is mostly what I do, but working with college students for an entire weekend is a special experience and one I appreciate every time.