Let me start by saying that I have a countless number of reasons I love teaching singing lessons. For one, I love it simply because singing is joyful. It’s been shown to have a wide variety of health benefits, from increasing endorphins, to lowering cortisol levels, to improving asthma! How could I not love experiencing this wonderful process with my students.
When I teach beginners, I love the feeling of uncertain expectation. When I begin working with someone, I know from years of experience that his or her voice will improve, as we chip away the tension and other roadblocks that don’t need to be there. What I don’t know is what the voice will sound like after a few years of work. I’ve worked with classical singers who’ve become some of my most impressive power belters, pop singers who’ve ended up sounding incredible on opera, and even students who call themselves “tone deaf” who’ve gone on to have music careers. It’s an exciting journey listening to them at the beginning and knowing that I have no idea where they’ll end up.
When I’m working with one of my advanced singers I’ve been working with for years, I have the satisfaction of remembering where they came from and admiring how far they’ve come. Frankly, working with my most advanced singers also sometimes makes me feel like I’m at a concert, and I feel indescribably lucky that it’s my job to work with these voices.
But my very favorite part of teaching singing lessons is the part in between: that “aha” moment when the light suddenly goes on for someone I’m working with. Sometimes it takes a month. Sometimes it takes 3 years, but I’ve seen it happen to some degree with just about every student who’s stuck it out long enough. Sometimes the change is dramatic, and the student goes from singing barely audibly to effortlessly belting out a rock song. Other times it’s just a subtle shift in understanding that I can sense, when I know that from that point on the student will have a much easier time with whatever it is that wasn’t previously connecting.
Sometimes a student has many “aha” moments, and I get to watch a fairly steady progression. Other times it’s just one major one that suddenly makes everything connect, as if we were trying to break through a wall with a small hammer over a period of time and it suddenly gave way. In either case, it’s these moments that most remind me why I love my job so much.