The Desire To Share

Enthusiasm naturally spills over — it is difficult to contain. People who are enthusiastic are energized and passionate and happy all at the same time. They seem to have a great sense of anticipation and optimism about whatever is the source of that enthusiasm, and all of that is contagious.

The human side of things, of course, is going to get in the way, no matter what. One person’s enthusiasm is someone else’s “overbearing”, and another one’s “lackadaisical”. If I love NASCAR races and talk to you about them endlessly, trying to get you to be as excited as I am, I might succeed and get you to become a big fan, too. I might turn you off completely, and make you run the other way, losing your friendship in the process, or you might just tolerate me, going along without as much energy as I have, and enjoy the races without getting really involved or annoyed.

People who really care about anything are special. People who are willing to commit to something and make the effort to bring their own personal best to what interests them are also unusual. It is very easy to coast in our society. It is easy to go do your job, get your paycheck and go home.

That is how some people teach singing. They meet the requirements of their school, department or organization. They do what they have to and then they go home to watch reruns on TV. They don’t care if their students learn anything, or if they are growing as teachers, as long as they make whatever amount of money they get. You would hope that artists, singers, were above that, but they are first, human beings. If they are teaching because their own careers as singers didn’t really get very far, it can be very depressing to teach someone else to do what you wanted to do and didn’t get to do yourself. People who go into teaching because they have no other skills by which to make a living aren’t the best candidates to become great teachers. People who choose to teach, on the other hand, because they are enthusiastic about teaching, and because they really want to joyfully share what they have learned with others, are often terrific teachers just for that one reason alone.

It is my desire to share what I have learned about singing (particularly CCM material) with others who are enthusiastic about acquiring that information. My desire is to perhaps make it easier for the other person to learn, saving some time and effort, helping to avoid mistakes and expense, if at all possible. My hope is that what I have to show and tell the other person turns out to be useful or valuable in some way, not impressive.

But, being human, I do want to share what I know in a certain way. I want to put it in its best package, I want it to be seen for what it is and not changed (like a chef who has cooked a gourmet meal and doesn’t want someone putting ketchup on it without even tasting it first). I have spent my entire life, over two hundred thousand hours in 36 years, gathering the information and experiences that I have distilled into something that I hope has great value. If I offer it to others, I don’t like to see it trashed, distorted, edited haphazardly, or mangled, particularly if I know the person who is doing those things has less experience or information than I do.

Yet, this has happened, and will, no doubt, happen again many times over. It is the inevitable consequence of enthusiastically sharing the information in the first place. If I kept it to myself, no one could damage or change it, no one could take it away from me, and no one would benefit from it except by personal contact with me. It hurts when someone takes a vocal exercise I know for sure is correct because it has worked over and over in countless different lessons for decades, and changes it simply because they don’t like it, even though they don’t have a better idea of their own. It hurts me when the information I am offering is rejected out of hand because it goes against someone’s past assumptions, even if those assumptions don’t work. It hurts me to think that others find my enthusiasm for all CCM and for teaching it as being overbearing, egotistical and self-righteous.

I couldn’t stop, though, even if I tried. I am so overwhelmingly motivated to share what I know in case it might assist even one person to sing in a way that is easier, more satisfying, more viable, faster, better and happier, that I couldn’t keep what I know to myself under any circumstances. I don’t enjoy feeling “hurt”, but I ignore it, as what does it matter what I feel or what happens to me in the long run, when the young teachers and their even younger students, get to understand how to sing rock or gospel or pop music without hurting themselves and feel so happy to be able to sing freely as the artists they are.

The desire to share is a good thing. The consequences of sharing are always going to be both good and not so good, but there is no other way.

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2 thoughts on “The Desire To Share”

  1. Hi Jeannie. I met you in York, UK at the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing conference. It was fun, wasn’t it, and York is so beautiful. I’ve looked at this site before and I’m glad that the energy and good sense that typified your presentation at York is fully borne out by what you write in your Blog. I’m also one of those who teach and I love it. I’m a British Voice Association member and am almost rabidly interested in voice science and in working with singers in all styles of singing. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog today, lying in bed nursing a very sore throat (coughed all over by my teenage son). I have a youngster coming over to NY some time soon. I’ve told him to get in touch with you and I hope he does. I look forward to meeting you at some conference or other soon. Love, Frith (Trezevant)

  2. Hi Jeannie, This post really hit me. (I’m slowly getting through all of them, so watch out, I’m sure a few more will hit me too!)
    I am one of those teachers (students!) trying to learn as much as possible to help my students be the best they can be. I don’t have a university degree, and I haven’t been studying the voice from a teaching point of view for that many years. However, I am truly grateful for what you do and what you’ve done in the past.
    I want to especially thank you for sharing. It truly isn’t fair that people such as you can spend their entire life conducting research, and dedicating themselves to the changes that must happen in regard to vocal teaching, and teachers like little-old-me can take that information and use it and benefit from it, without permission or gratitude. Some even take the work of others, like you, and market it as their own. That is, in my opinion, the bottom of the barrel.

    Let me say this. Your work, and others like you, will not be in vain. The world will remember your endeavours, somewhere, some way, by teachers and singers such as me.

    Thanks again for all you do! Susan McAllister-Bee

    p.s. I truly hope I get the pleasure to meet you someday, and I know, it is up to me to make that happen! And, I will!

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