People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do. (author unknown)
Private voice lessons are a special opportunity for teacher and student. They can offer much learning and growth, or a pleasant diversion from the rest of life, or a test of wills and political maneuvers, or fulfill a degree requirement, or many other things – good, bad, and in-between. We must be sensitive as teachers and as students to whether this potentially powerful working relationship is beneficial. At some point, student or teacher may contemplate whether the time has come to discontinue lessons.
How do you know whether it is time to stop? Before either party speaks of ending the association, there should be an attempt to discuss issues of concern. Sometimes these issues can be cleared up and the relationship can continue to be useful. In other cases, it might be time to move on.
Questions a voice student might ask oneself:
- What have I learned? How have I improved as a singer?
- Am I still making progress with this association?
- In the lesson, do I feel free to explore? Does it feel safe and positive? Is it an atmosphere of mutual respect?
- Is there anything I want to learn that this teacher cannot provide? Sometimes it isn’t a matter of leaving the present teacher, but rather getting additional help from another source. A typical example of this is when a singer works with someone other than the voice teacher on musical styles or languages.
- What do people with trusted ears say about my singing? Am I making improvements in areas that others have identified as needing work?
Teachers need to be concerned with the same questions. Think carefully, keep lines of communication open, and always be gently honest with yourself and each other.