In my entire career as a vocal coach, I have only had one student along the way where, after our initial meeting, we mutually agreed I would not be the best teacher for him. Here’s why.
He was having too good a time.
After the first ten minutes of getting to know his voice, he and I were laughing yet again. (I am pithy, but there is also method to my madness – laughing opens up the mouth- especially the throat, lifts your face for great sound placement as well as forces you to use more breath. It is a great warm up technique).
He stopped, looked very serious and basically informed me that we needed to now get down to business. I told him we had already started and he looked completely disconcerted. He informed me that he was up for any kind of boot camp I could give him. He was ready to be pummeled, yelled at, cajoled, whatever it would take for him to become a better singer.
I explained that ‘no pain no gain’ was not my style and if he wanted to leave, I would give him his money back. Or if he chose, he could try this approach and see how it felt.
Not completely convinced, he decided to try it anyway and within another ten minutes he was hitting notes in ways he never dreamed he could.
I expected him to be excited or happy or at least a little pleased.
Instead, he was shocked and troubled. He was so unused to learning from a positive place that he even doubted that he had just sung so well. I told him to play back his recording to prove to himself that indeed he had.
He didn’t. He left. I did not hear back from him. I didn’t expect to. It just struck me so deeply that he would rather hold on to his belief that everything must be hard and painful rather than listen to the evidence proving that there was another way.
From that moment forward, I started asking my students about what they believed was possible. I discovered that there were so many limiting thoughts about their abilities that I would never have known about if I hadn’t asked.
What I now do is toss in the possibility or the light suggestion that maybe, just maybe they could think a little differently and get a different result. That instead of sticking with less than positive notions, why don’t they delete the old program that is not getting them the results they deserve and plant a new idea, a new sentence and place it into their body, into their sensibility—create a new belief system.
Just by offering the concept of change, seems to trigger something in their body and mind and heart—call it science or magic—who cares – I recommend doing it anyway.
So what fresh possibility can you plant in your brain today? Try it and see where it takes you. If you are totally brave, you may hit an awesome new note too!
Michelle Cohen is a writer, director, producer, performer and coach. She produced the off–Broadway mega-hit, Schoolhouse Rock Live! Her ebook, Of Course You Can Sing!, is an inspiring resource for professional and amateur singers along with the newly released Of Course You Can Sing! Mobile Phone Lessons which puts singing lessons in the palm of your hand. Michelle and her diverse projects have been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, MTV, NPR’s “All Things Considered”, People Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, FHM, the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post. For more info, please visit: www.michellecohenprojects.com