Sequences

There are all kinds of students who want to study singing. There are those who want to sing like the people they hear on TV and on the radio or the internet. There are those who might want to be “in music theater” and there are those who actually like classical music and aspire to sing it. In between there are people who sing at church, in local choruses, in community theater, and maybe at the town coffee house. There are people who have never sung who finally reach a place in life where they have the time and money to learn, and there are folks who sang when they were young and want to return to it in later life. There are musicians who want to add singing to their instrumental expertise and there are actors and dancers who are sometimes asked to sing but who are insecure or inexperienced with it.

Whatever the age of the student, from 8 to 80, all students come with a history (of singing), a relationship to it and to their voices, and a desire of some kind, because without that desire they wouldn’t be students at all.

Sometimes students who are not familiar with the training process find out after starting it that it is too hard and that they don’t have the necessary commitment to study that would be necessary for success. Sometimes the students have unrealistic ideas about “becoming a star” instead of “discovering singing and seeing what happens”. Sometimes the person singing isn’t really mentally in a place where serious study is possible, due to other outside pulls on time and attention. And, each person will have a skill set — anything from a very low level one to one that is very highly developed. Even beginners who have never studied can be “advanced” technically in that they are quite good at the physical process of making sound even without knowing or understanding why. Others, who have studied singing for a very long time, may, unfortunately, have learned next to nothing helpful, or may even have had whatever ability they came by naturally programmed right out of their system. That’s really hard to deal with, but it happens. They remain beginners, regardless of the time spent.

People who are open-minded, curious, willing and diligent, should be able to learn to improve their ability to sing without issue, provided the teacher has something useful to teach. People who are recalcitrant, obstinate, resistant, and controlling, probably won’t learn much no matter what the teacher has to offer. People who have some combination of qualities, plus and minus, can be challenging to teach, and therefore, interesting.

In order to decide what kind of a learning sequence is best for the student who comes to a teacher for singing lessons, all these factors have to be considered at the outset. They can be adjusted over time as the relationship between teacher and student develops, but the teacher must have enough skill and enough variety of approaches to be able to address a wide range of people and their needs. Sometimes, a student get lucky and finds the right teacher who just happens to have what she needs. Sometimes, a teacher gets lucky and happens to have a student who somehow innately understands what he is trying to communicate. Most of the time, however, the situation falls in between somewhere. That’s why, if you are a teacher, you need to keep working at being a better one, for the entire time that you are teaching. You can’t rest on your laurels, your training, your experience or your knowledge. You can never have enough information and can never be good enough at conveying it. Keep getting better. Eventually you will know the right sequence for each person, and you will also know that there is more than one that will work just fine.

 

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