When is it time for a new voice teacher?

Some uncomfortable thoughts that may be indications that it’s time for a change:

– I am not improving, even though I practice.

– For a long time now, I don’t understand how to do what my teacher has been trying to get me to do.

– My teacher and I used to get along, but it has gotten rocky lately.

– I have learned a lot from my teacher, and really like her, but I need to work with someone with a new point of view.

– I don’t respect my teacher.

– My teacher doesn’t respect me.

– I want to go in a new direction with my singing career, and my teacher doesn’t seem comfortable with that.

– My teacher wants to take me in a direction (with repertoire, technique, genres) that I don’t like.

– I feel like I have had the same lesson over and over again, with little to show for it.

– I may have grown beyond this learning situation.

– Now that I am overcoming some new challenges (medical, psychological, life events), I feel like I need to work with someone who understands those things better.

– One or both of us have crossed a boundary that makes a continued relationship uncomfortable.

– I want to study, but I dread lessons.

Most of us who study voice for a long time will have one or more of the preceding thoughts at some time(s) in our singing life. Sometimes a tough issue can be worked through with the present teacher, but maybe not. In some cases, time away from a teacher makes a return to that teacher more productive. Or perhaps you need to not have voice lessons for a while and figure out some things before resuming them. Bounce your ideas off someone you trust, such as a counselor, therapist, or smart confidante.

If you have studied with a teacher for a long time, and you have a generally good relationship with them, you should let them know you need to stop. At the last lesson, tell them that you need to stop lessons, and give an honest, gentle, concise reason. “This will be my last lesson for a while.” They may follow up with “why?”. Have an answer ready! It can be simple. “I need to attend to some pressing personal issues for a while.” “I need a break from voice study and then will figure out whether I will resume.” “I feel like I’m stuck and need to stop for a while to figure things out.” Honesty doesn’t require you to vomit every dissatisfaction, complaint, or negative thought. Just an appropriate slice of the truth, with boundaries that are comfortable to you.

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