This week as I’m looking ahead to the Thanksgiving Season, I’m thinking about how thankful I am for all of the students who have helped me learn the craft of teaching vocal training and singing. Although I always teach my students all that I know, I am constantly learning so much from being a part of their growth. Their endeavors feed my background knowledge to be called upon by the next batch of singers… Their feedback is critical to the success of my method and the growth of my future singers.
As a gardener learns from the growth of each of her plants, working with my students is like tending a vine, week in and week out, nurturing the positive growth, pruning the not-so-necessary, doing what works and discouraging what doesn’t… All the while watching the potential of a unique person growing into his or her own potential. Seizing his or her moment. Becoming him or herself and speaking (or singing!) his or her own truth, with a voice that is GROWING into all it can become. What an absolute honor to be entrusted with this beautiful task.
I love greeting my students one by one each week and helping to create a small but important slice of life for them, pouring the herbal tea and checking in. I love hearing about the week’s ups and downs, the dramas that unfold, the obstacles, and the overcoming of the obstacles. And then digging into how practices went. What was singing like this week? What was accomplished, but much more importantly, what was gleaned, what was learned in the process of singing this week?
The shift from the stress of daily life to the freedom of musical and artistic life is profound. Suddenly, tense, pale faces relax and turn ruddy. Eyes sparkle with joy, and concern, come alive with hope, interest, and wonder. Taking time from the day to ponder your voice is something indescribable for most people, but something wholly profound, digging in the depths, so to speak in order to find the gold.
The observations even beginning singers have about their voices, their songs, the way their sound changes as they move small parts of their bodies or focus their breath in a particular way… each person brings an entirely new universe of thought and perception to the table. There are endless lessons to learn, endless amazements to discover at each lesson, and endless goals to be achieved in working together.
And then the SINGING, what lessons are all about. The singing, the singing… Magically, the thoughts, the conversations, the things we talk about culminating into music, into moments, into the sound of the voice and the singer focused on making that voice grow. And so it does. Week to week, month to month, an instrument forming, changing, growing, till after a few months even the first “Hello” at the door reveals a robustness, a resonance of a well-honed, strengthened voice.
And as we part for the week, the beauty that lingers in the studio after the singer has left hangs like a glorious creation, an energy and expression of life, of humanity, of being… and stays here for the rest of the day, warming the space till we meet again.