“I feel like I have been a charlatan my entire career. Yes, I’ve been successful. I’ve toured the world and even had a hit or two, but I feel like I faked it. There are parts of my voice I have little control over. Until now, I’ve masked them. I want these next and probably last 10 years of my career to be vocally outstanding. I want to sing with subtlety, nuance, and passion. It’s time.”
She sits across from me in the studio. Her right leg is bouncing up and down in response to some deep emotion. Is it nervousness, frustration, fear that she can’t move beyond where she is?
I listen intently to her story about how she ended up in my studio at this particular time in her career and life. She wants what she has never had – ease and control with her vocal technique throughout her range while maintaining power. She wants it so bad and she is so frustrated. She can’t get there on her own and she hasn’t gotten there in the past with coaching.
“Can you help me? How do you know you can help me?”
How do we know that she actually can get what she wants? How do we know that we really can help her get to this vision she has had for so long, but never realized?
To start with, we have to connect to something within ourselves that is somewhat like what she is feeling. For her to be willing to be vulnerable enough to go down this path with us as her guide, we have to experience empathy.
We must be 100% truthful about the hope we offer to her.
We must have the technical tools, scientific knowledge, and wisdom of how to apply those tools and knowledge needed to help her move forward.
We must teach her how to practice – exactly. Her thinking and neuromuscular habits are long standing. Some of them must be unlearned. New neurological pathways must be laid down and deepened by repetition over and over and over again.
“My belief in you to achieve this may be greater than any doubt you have.” We must be her champion while being truthful.
We must ask her to sign up for being deeply committed. She must figure out how to stay motivated when the going gets tough – when it takes longer than she hopes for; when what worked last week for her ceases to work; when she struggles with how her retrained instrument works.
This is high-level work. It is not teaching repertoire. It is not having her simply sing along with an app. It is not simply building confidence. It is not just about the breath.
This is a tall order for us voice coaches. How in the world can we deliver such coaching?
- We must want to be the very best, just as our client above does.
- We must be willing to be vulnerable and admit our deficiencies and areas for improvement.
- We must find mentors and teachers with whom we can bare our inadequacies and not be judged.
- We must seek constructive critique.
- We must seek that which we do not yet understand and know about how the voice works, how humans learn the best, and how our clients can quiet their minds and be in their best energy.
- We must have unending curiosity.
- We must surround ourselves with a community where we can seek and find and radiate our passion.
There is a movement going on in voice teaching. It is a movement of collaboration vs. the old school of isolation and “keeping secrets.” It is represented by what is happening with PAVA. But even right here in Nashville, it is very evident. Out of it are coming the best singing teachers Nashville – those who have an entire community of expertise behind them and with them.
There are now two meetings each month of voice coaches, singing teachers, and those interested in how the voice truly works and how to best help our clients and associates. I’ve never seen anything like it. Their members teach in front of one another, offer short seminars on their “specialty”, and sometimes even perform for one another. There is no “master” teacher. There is no guru. The groups recognize formally that ALL have something to offer. They respect the pedagogical traditions that each member has in their history. But perhaps most importantly, they ask questions to further knowledge, understanding, and passion. And the two groups “talk” to each other. Neither group excludes the other.
I am so excited to be living in a time where this is possible. Vocal science, human learning theory, neuromuscular memory, neuroplasticity, and emotional centering are all converging so that we CAN deliver transformative vocal coaching.
What a blessing and gift it is when we can truthfully deliver this good news:
“Yes, I can help you. Yes, I have the knowledge and skills and empathy to help you become the singer you know you can be. And I have a whole host of other teachers and experts to call in if we get stuck. Let’s begin.”
If you want to know more about how you can get what you want more of for your singing teaching or your singing, call me at 615-337-0853, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to our mailing list.