Technique & Singing: What You Should Expect of your Voice Teacher

June 9, 2014

A few months back I told you about an experience I had singing in a master class with a teacher espousing some different ideas than I had heard before. The moral of the story was – I was defensive and she was right and when I actually opened my heart and mind to it all, I felt really different and changed. It was kind of a big deal not only for my teaching, but for my own singing… and my life.

Fast forward to the third weekend in May – I made my way to NYC to participate in said teacher’s first level training in her methodology. Let me preface this by saying, I always hesitate to use the term “methodology” because I am the type of person to be leery of singing teachers, or anyone really with a methodology. There is too much information out there for someone to honestly lay claim to a singular teaching method. Suspicious! But, what I like about this one is that it is sort of a non-methodology in that, it is totally based in current voice science. But, you might ask (with a Bullwinkle voice) “Isn’t all voice teaching methodology grounded in science?” Umm, no. Much derives from varied levels of understanding around voice science, and then even more varied filters that are often specific to the language used by the individual teacher. Translation – you’re in a voice lesson and someone is telling you to sing like a tree because, all of their students sing like trees and their students are awesome singers.

ALERT! Anyone who has spent much time studying singing knows exactly what I’m talking about.

So, despite my transformative master class experience, I was still going to NYC with my skeptical expression planted securely on my face, but my heart was secretly quite excited and open. What the weekend yielded was amazing. My skepticism was nearly immediately erased and the information and tools I walked away with were thrilling. Not only that, I experienced something completely new in my own singing. I mean, when was the last time you really learned something? What about felt validated in addition to learning? Three days of this, people. I was on cloud high… in the natural sense of course.  It was good.

But, what was even better than all that rich information? I walked away with a new found clarity about who I want to be as a teacher and a person. Whoa! Intense, right? Let me share what I mean.  Singing is a risky sport. I’ve written about that before. It is risky because by its nature it requires physical and emotional vulnerability. This is hard for most of us (ME!), regardless of our natural ability. Because of this, success as a student requires a great deal of trust in the instructor. Because of this, success as an instructor requires a great deal of understanding of the student. If these pieces are in place, and the methodology lines up, I think it can all be quite magical. But for these pieces to be in place, I believe the student must enter the studio with a certain set of expectations of the teacher – some of which I am now able to communicate more clearly and hopefully are representative of not just my teaching, but my person. Therefore, let me offer you a quick list of expectations I invite you to have of me, and anyone with whom I associate Davin Youngs Voice Inc.

1.     You can expect that I will respect your voice journey, but more importantly personal journey. I will listen carefully to your story, and will consider it as I communicate my instruction to you and help you set goals for yourself.

2.     You can expect I will be honest, sharing my opinion based on my experience and understanding of how it relates to what you have been willing to share.

3.     You can expect that I will only ask you to use your voice in ways that I understand you to be physically and emotionally ready for and that will move you toward your goals.

4.     You can expect that I will make every effort to continue learning about the latest in voice science and I will admit openly to the things I don’t know.

5.     You can expect I will emphasize collaboration and do my best to surround myself with others who are experts in areas I am not. I will also not hesitate to send you to an expert in any given area who may be able to serve you better than I.

6.     You can expect that I will express gratitude for your willingness to share your voice with me.

7.     You can expect that we will have fun. Because after all, it’s singing. It’s meant to bring joy.

Now you may be currently studying with another teacher who would not ask you to expect these things of them, and you may be very happy in your study and learning and becoming a fantastic singer. That’s totally cool! I’m not insinuating this is for everyone, but when I consider the type of person I would like to learn from or a business around singing I would like to patronize, the above expectations ring true for me.  So, I mean it. I mean all of them, and I hope you’ll hold me and US to them.

As far as that methodology goes? I’m on my way to Virginia during the month of July to learn more about it and become certified in all levels of the training. I’m excited; because I have this feeling that if the above expectations are in place and I have these additional tools, we’re going to be making some pretty awesome new sounds at Davin Youngs Voice.  I hope you’ll be along for the ride.

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