The Value of Life Experience

If you do something for 20, 30, or 40 years, do you have more information about whatever it is than someone who just started?

In our society, you wouldn’t think so. People fresh out of school are often regarded as being equal to, or better than, their elder peers because they have finished a degree program. While this gives information, it does not give life experience which, as far as I know, is only possible by living.

If you were having brain surgery, would you rather have it with someone fresh out of school or someone who had done 500 successful surgeries? If you were going to study archeology, would you rather be a student of the person straight out of school or someone who had discovered a dozen dinosaurs out in the field?

Questions asked by young singing teachers reveal a lack of knowledge about even the most basic topics. How do you teach breathing? What happens if the student says he is tired at the end of a lesson? What is a nodule and how does it sound?

My question is, what kind of a profession allows people with so little information to hang out a shingle and charge money? Answer: mine!

If you are new to teaching, take the NYSTA PDP course. Take the Vocology Course at NCVS. Attend the Voice Foundation Symposium: Care of the Professional Voice. Study teaching somewhere with someone who has been around for a few decades and has successful professional students and a reputation. Don’t just guess or make things up!!!!! Come to study Somatic Voicework™.

There are many things to know, basic things, that all singing teachers should have under their belts as information about vocal function and response. These things interface with musical expectations (in the marketplace) but they are not the same. If you are going to present yourself as a teacher, you have to have definite things to teach. Suppose the person who taught you to read guessed that there were some rules about grammar but wasn’t too sure, how would you feel about that? Suppose the person who taught you math, hoped that 2 + 2 was four, but thought that under certain circumstances it might be five, would you pleased about that? If, however, the definite things you are teaching are things YOU MADE UP, and you never bothered to find out if your assumptions were accurate or true by asking someone else who was more experienced than you, your teaching philosophy would be resting on your Ego and your hubris. Not a great platform for teaching.

The value of life experience is important. Seek out those who have a great deal of it.



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2 thoughts on “The Value of Life Experience”

  1. As I contemplate my role as a master teacher for the NATS intern program, this is an enormously encouraging post to read! I’ve been thinking – what do I have to teach these young teachers, many of whom have masters degrees, DMA’s or PhD’s when I basically have a bachelors degree and not even in voice! It’s made me realize that indeed, I DO have plenty to offer these young’uns – knowledge picked up along the way from experience as a professional choral singer, from attending many symposiums, workshops, courses and masterclasses, from reading and research, from working with many teachers – some brilliant, others who taught me how NOT to teach and ESPECIALLY from the multitude of students that I have taught over the last 30 years.

    Thanks for helping me bring this all into perspective Jeanie!

    1. We all have much to give, Craig, if we haven’t given up by the time we are “a little bit long in the tooth”. I am sure the students at the NATS Intern program will greatly appreciate what you invite them to learn. Your heart is open and that matters more than anything else.

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