Older students can learn!

As I’ve mentioned, I still study with a voice teacher. I’m still learning new things about singing and teaching singing. It is tricky to be older and experienced, and still benefit from lessons. Over the years, we build up our knowledge and our analytical abilities. These can sometimes help, and sometimes hurt. They are a problem when we are trying to become open to new ideas. We need to find a way to shut off the cynic and critic, and allow the inner child’s sense of wonder and receptivity to help us learn.

I’m reminded of an old Bible verse Truly I say to you, unless you [a]are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3, New American Standard Bible 1995). You miss a lot if you go for a lesson or coaching and filter everything on the spot through your experience. This is one reason I always record my lessons. I try to allow myself to be as open as possible in a lesson, which is challenging, but I know that I can listen to the recording critically later. Opening to trust and exploration results in a more enjoyable lesson and encourages the teacher or coach to do their job well.

I have a tendency toward being a curmudgeon about other voice teachers, so I make it a discipline to try to offset that by suspending internal muttering and objections. I tend to be a little goofy and “dumb” in lessons when I listen to the recording later, but I also hear how going all-in makes the lesson better. If I accept and include what the teacher is asking of me, I regain that sense of excitement and possibility that I have had since my childhood lessons.

Turning the critical faculty on and off during practice is a really productive skill as well. And you MUST turn it off during performance, lest you make performing into drudgery.

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