Expectations for Your Teacher

What is it you expect from your voice teacher? Do you often expect them to make something happen for you vocally without you being part of the equation? How responsible are you for the time, energy and even money you spend on singing and how quickly you progress? How do you use your time in the practice room? Are you mindful and work in short session? (And I do mean short, 5-15 minutes at a time so you can actually focus – stop – then pick it up again for another 5-15 minutes.)
Creating a mindful practice session like this allows you walk away feeling like you actually accomplished something and is much more productive. Just like creating a plan of action to move your career forward, you have to have an agenda when practicing and when you go into your lesson. I always ask my students, “What’s on your agenda to work on today?”, or “What do you need from me today?” In the beginning, they are a bit confused and surprised and aren’t sure how to respond, but they get it and start coming with an idea of what it is they want to achieve on that day in that lesson.
Know it is up to you to participate, ask questions, remain flexible and curious, then take what you have learned, examine it, sample it, test drive it and then evaluate it and do this process over and over again until it becomes both your habit and a reliable tool. Otherwise, you will get nothing out of a lesson and wonder why you are not improving. Know that what you choose to do with this information is totally up to you. You are responsible for owning how and what you learn. When you go off to practice or perform is when the real work begins. We as teachers are giving you permission to figure this process out. We want to make you conscious of how you do what you do so you can create a new and productive habit.
Habits are difficult to change. Neuroscience now says that there is no changing an existing habit, one must not try to fix it, but literally create a whole new synaptic connection by reinforcing the process of the new habit only. That means that the minute you realize you have gone astray, as you work your new technique, you must stop immediately, let it go, and start back at square one, back at the beginning of the new process. This grows the new connection in your brain until it becomes the stronger of the two choices and the old habit lies dormant as you move forward. This kind of work creates legitimate power, control and opportunity.
Think about the possibilities…

Carol Kirkpatrick

For as long as she can remember, singing and performing have always been in Carol Kirkpatrick’s blood. From her beginnings in a small farming town in southeastern Arizona, through her early first-place triumph at the prestigious San Francisco Opera Auditions, and subsequent career on international stages, Ms. Kirkpatrick has thrilled audiences and critics alike. “A major voice, one worth the whole evening.” (The New York Times) Since retiring from the stage, she continues to be in demand as a voice teacher, clinician, and adjudicator of competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.  Combining her knowledge of performance, business, and interpersonal skills, she has written the second edition of her highly regarded book, Aria Ready: The Business of Singing, a step-by-step career guide for singers and teachers of singing.  Aria Ready has been used by universities, music conservatories and summer and apprentice programs throughout the world as a curriculum for teaching Ms. Kirkpatrick’s process of career development, making her “the” expert in this area.  She lives in Denver, Colorado.   YouTube.com/kirkpatrickariaready