There are people in this world who can do something easily and well for no good reason other than they can. Singing is one thing that has a certain percentage of people who succeed because they sing well, sometimes very well, even though they have not trained to be singers or, sometimes, even though they have not had a strong background in singing at home or in a school setting.
They don’t know that there’s more to talent than talent.
Such talented individuals are at risk. They do what they do by osmosis and they have nothing to hang onto when things go off into unknown territory. They discover by accident that it is possible to have problems and that they do not have the means to solve them on their own. That is a frightening scenario that can rapidly go from bad to very bad.
Guiding someone with natural talent to keep what she has while also adding skills is a very particular kind of training to provide. It isn’t productive to take someone with a nationally recognized career and reconstruct what she does just to give her information that will ultimately be helpful to her. It is important that whatever works be left alone while new information is integrated into the singer’s lexicon slowly, particularly if the new information is quite different in direction from established patterns.
As a young teacher I didn’t understand this well and would often move in to make necessary adjustments in a way that was too quick. Many decades ago when I worked with amateur vocalists I was eager to make changes and at least once ended up making it impossible for the vocalist to sing in the flawed and habitual manner but not in the new way immediately either. I well remember having to apologize for being over-zealous and learned to go much more slowly particularly with willing students who practiced and followed my instructions. With talented singers who already have careers it is essential to be very cautious with even the most mundane corrections, lest you inadvertently cause more harm than good.
If you are correcting technical faults you can only do so effectively over a period of months or even years as it takes time for the voice and body to assimilate these adjustments in a deep way, allowing the mechanism to settle into the new behaviors so that they become automatic. Rushing absolutely never works and only forces the vocalist to manipulate the results, sometimes trading one kind of entanglement for another.
Vocalists can learn to take responsibility for their innate talent.
Age is a great leveler. Even very talented people discover through life experience that sooner or later something is going to go wrong. They learn that taking responsibility for their innate talent doesn’t mean they don’t have to develop equal responsibility for understanding their natural abilities and how they work when they do. The younger someone is when they encounter a problem, the more likely it is that they won’t encounter that same problem again down the road, as long as they paid attention to what fixed things in the first instance.
For both singers and teachers of singing, do not be fooled by those with great instruments, powerful expressive skills or the ability to perform. Go underneath those things and make sure the vocalist finds out what there is to know about how human beings produce sound and how we store auditory and kinesthetic information in our minds. Explore what works and understand why it does. That way the talent will be sitting on a strong, solid foundation that can last a lifetime.