My Guru, My Teacher (Part 2)

Back on the subject of “Guru”, the Teacher, the Imparter of Knowledge, the one who is Heavy With Knowledge….

My own experience with my voice teacher (my Guru) has illuminated how I think of teaching piano.  In case you don’t know, my first instrument is my voice, and I am a far more accomplished singer than pianist. I’ve had several teachers over the years, some who were a better fit for me than others, but I trusted each of them deeply when I was learning with them.

Singers have a unique perspective as learning musicians because their instruments are inside their bodies.  This means, a singer never really gets to hear what she sounds like—she has to trust that her teacher is asking her to do (or not do) things that will make her sing better.  This has been most pronounced with my current teacher as I have become more advanced. Nearly every week in my own lesson, she asks me to do something (or more often NOT do something) and I’ll say, “Gosh, could you even hear me?”  Amazingly, the answer is always, “YES, that sound is bigger than the other one!”

Could I ever have achieved my level of accomplishment as a singer without trusting completely in my “imparter of knowledge”? No way! I trust my teacher to lead me through the darkness—she can see and I can’t! I do this with my piano students too.  They can’t always see why we are doing a particular thing, but we talk about trusting and doing it anyway, even when you don’t fully understand.

Conversely, a student who resists and challenges at every turn is walking in the dark with no guide.  They walk into metaphorical walls all the time–I see the walls coming, but they never do.  When I have a student like this, I have the “Do You Trust Me” conversation as promptly as possible. (See My Guru, My Teacher (Part 1)) Sometimes these students will quit—unfortunate, but better than weekly frustration.  However, the ones who can let go of their own ego and trust me as a teacher achieve truly amazing results.

I encourage you to give yourself permission to let go of the students who buck you at every turn and cultivate the ones who really trust you. Believe me, a studio of 12 committed, trusting students is MUCH better than a studio of 30 wishy-washy ones.

Click Here for My Guru, My Teacher (Part 1)

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