First lessons with a new teacher – mid career edition

If you are an experienced singer who has studied voice with a private teacher, and you go to a new teacher, it can be quite a jolt. The following is a fictional scenario based on plenty of experience.

Paul has been studying with a teacher (let’s call him Philip) for a few years that he likes very much. However, Philip is taking a sabbatical and Paul knows he will need the services of a voice teacher during the year of the sabbatical. He asks his friends for recommendations and through them finds one (let’s call her Abby) that seems interesting. Paul goes for a consultation and trial lesson and likes Abby’s observations and approach about what he needs to do with his singing. He decides to return and is very pleased to find himself making some needed improvements after just two lessons. He is making more sound more easily, and singing feels more solid and beautiful.

Abby has similar values to Paul’s former teacher, but a very different approach. Abby has a way of stripping things to their essence and avoiding long instructions both as a teacher and a singer. She directs Paul toward being more in touch with his body and simplifying the act of singing. Singing now feels much better and Paul is in an interesting new situation mentally.

Paul loves his old teacher and his new teacher. The new point of view he is getting with Abby is very useful, effective, and exciting. He never planned to leave Philip’s studio, but he is enjoying lessons with Abby so much that he doesn’t want to leave her studio for the foreseeable future.

Paul feels conflicted. Not just about whether to “quit” Philip’s studio, but also how completely to throw himself into Abby’s approach. While he feels safe with Abby, and she obviously is a good teacher, her way of working on vocal technique is quite different from the way Philip works. Paul knows that if he is to get the most out of lessons with Abby he needs to commit to learning what she is about, and totally relearn some things. Ugh!

Paul has been around the block enough to know that change feels weird, and that the weirdness often precedes growth, so you have to be willing to go there, or don’t make a change. So, in his lessons with Abby, he is putting aside pride, worries about previous investments, and resistance to new ideas, so that he can fully experience the newness. He feels awkward, vulnerable, and a little stupid when simple things are hard to do at first. But he knows when he has found a great teacher, and is willing to trust the change one more time.

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