The desired, the possible, and the experienced

When teacher works with student, he needs to keep in mind that he is trying to help the student to do something that she has never done before. Each party is bringing these three potentials to the lesson:

  • the desired behavior (in the future)
  • the possible manifestations and scope of achievement (in the future)
  • the experience of achievement (past for the teacher, future for the student)

The student may have a desire to do a particular thing “as well as possible”, but not yet have a strong grasp of “possible”.

The teacher may have a good grasp of the possibilities, and what should come next (what is “desired”), but will never have the students’ experience. The good teacher will have heard descriptions of the experience of others as well as having had their own personal experiences, but there is always an aspect of experience that is intensely personal and not transferable. The teacher must hope that when the desired improvement has been achieved, the singer will recognize the felt experience and learn to use it for further development.

If a student and teacher have a great chemistry together, they may be very close in their concepts of the “desired”, and may be fairly close with the “possible” (if the student is extremely aware), but the “experience” will always be the lonesome valley for each singer. Only with personal experience will the singer learn how to repeat the desired new skill.

A problem emerges if the teacher insists that the student must have the same experience. The two may agree on the desire, and both recognize the successful outcome and future possibilities for growth, but it is folly to be certain that they are having the same experience. Two out of three is enough, however. The wise teacher knows that with success, the stated experience of the singer is usually best acknowledged with an attitude of “accept and include”. The teacher may offer a story of their experience when performing the same skill, but can never know without a doubt that the experience is the same as the student’s, and that’s OK.

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