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Right Teacher, Right Time

Most of us will remember fondly a class teacher whose belief in us spurred us on our way.

It can be the same with instrumental teachers, although as ever, I think that singing delves deeper into the psyche than other instruments as the voice is actually a part of us: we can’t change it for a new updated model, or put it away in a case at the end of a practice session, hence we need to be mindful of good use and care.

How much people influence us - both positively and negatively - really depends on where both student and teacher are in their life’s development when they meet. The student may be advanced, or completely new to any vocal pedagogy; the teacher may be new to the profession or have years of experience. Furthermore, and perhaps more poignantly, the emotional state of both student and teacher can be a huge factor in their unique relationship; being in an anxious, sad or painful chapter will affect this relationship, and not necessarily in a bad way.

Finding a teacher/personality that suits the student is often a case of luck but it is important that there is trust between them. Trust breeds confidence and so inhibitions of the student can melt away. At any one moment in time a student/teacher meeting will develop into a successful partnership, or sadly, this success may not come to pass because one of them hasn’t yet reached that time in their life to feed off the other or to give of their best. Hence one teacher may be the ‘right’ or the ‘best’ one for one student at any given time, but not for another student. One student may progress with the same teacher just as another student does not.

However, taking or giving singing lessons is rarely embarked upon lightly, and even if the relationship doesn’t achieve the highest pinnacle, the student puts faith (and of course invests money) in the teacher’s expertise, and the teacher will always want the best for their student. As a teacher, it is sad to lose a promising student, and as a student, it can be a relief to find a tutor who can relate and understand. A good teacher knows if there is a reasonable chance of working successfully with a student, and also if/when a student needs to ‘’move on’. Of course learning skills takes time to develop…..there will be a period of familiarisation and adjustment. From personal experience as a student, I know how important it is to listen to one’s inner voice and find a different teacher if stagnation is beginning to occur. We are all human and our life’s path isn’t always plain sailing.

Whatever, we should never lose sight of what is a wonderful gift of nature, and enjoy the learning experiences which will continue throughout our lives.

Further reading:

*Janice Chapman Singing and Singing Teaching, chapters 10 and 14.

*Gillian Gingell Wormley blog Little Soprano, Making you a better singer: the process

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