Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One Lesson

There are people who, in the past, have shown up for singing lessons, took one lesson, never to return. The good news is that this is rare. The bad news is that those same people would not go to an airstrip for flying lessons, attend one class and then expect to fly a plane without getting killed. Singing looks easy and so does flying, when the person “in charge” is very, very good at it. It is silly to think that a highly developed skill is gained through just a little bit of knowledge. You wouldn’t go to a doctor, who spent one day in medical school, to get your broken bone treated.

Anything you have learned in school was learned by consistent attendance, and repetition of studying and (hopefully) applying what you studied. The process is: you get information, you do something intelligent with it, and you repeat this until you have a profound understanding and the ability to utilize your newfound knowledge and skill. Or! You study and memorize, make your “A” and know little or nothing about the subject a month or a year later. What was the purpose of putting in the time, if you gain nothing in the long run?

So, above, we have three scenarios: 1) A person expects to learn a vast subject in a day. 2) A person consistently learns and applies and gets good at something. 3) A person treats life like “school” and goes for the grade but never is fully involved with the subject. The results of each approach should be obvious but evidently are either not obvious or are not important to the student. One of the three approaches results in success. The other two are a waste of everyone’s time.

Practice is where the magic lives. Practice is the time and place where you do the things to cause improvement to take place. If you have the proper tools to get the job done, you exponentially increase your chances of success. Conversely, if you have the wrong tools, you will make no progress, or worse still, you will get worse. I had a student a few years ago who went to a major university in Massachusetts and in a month lost an entire octave of her singing range. Her teacher, (who had a doctorate degree in voice) through tears, told her that she did not know how to fix her and that she was so sorry for having messed her up. At this point she started studying with me over the phone and in a month had all of her range back. You can truly get worse by practicing incorrectly or by practicing the wrong things.