As we begin the fall season - many of you may feel like fish out of water!
First - this is normal. If you have started school, changed teachers, changed programs, changed cities - made a change to another voice type or fach - you are going to feel somewhat in limbo for a bit.
THIS IS NORMAL! Accept that and take a breath and pay attention to what is going on around you.
We often go into some form of denial or self-protection when we feel threatened in any way. We may be legitimately threatened, but often in the case of change as I have described above, it is more about vulnerability than actual threat.
Sometimes making change shows us we aren't where we thought we were to begin with. It happens, thus the change.
As a singer, recognize that your previous work, your previous study, your previous self is not for naught! It is an important stepping stone to where you are NOW.
If you are moving from high school to college or university and making a shift from one teacher to the other you will most definitely be making some huge changes! If you were primarily a choir singer, you have developed some marvellous skills, however, perhaps now you are working on your solo voice. This is another set of skills, and another development of your instrument.
Recognizing that these changes are leading to growth will perhaps allow to approach your lessons and see how your teachers are trying to approach YOU!
Ultimately, no matter how much you THINK you know, if you are studying, you are saying there is still so much to LEARN. In all honesty, no matter how much you DO know, there is still more out there! No one has a monopoly on truth, and in turn, if you were ready and able, you wouldn't be there would you?
So - if you are making a change of studio, a change of fach, a change of voice type et al - believe that what you DO know will be developed and not negated.
In this instant society, and this ageism mentality of "younger is better", it is often difficult to recognize that in singing, neither of these concepts hold true.
Singing is not a trick, nor is it instant. A singer is ultimately an athletic activity and thus, it is physical age appropriate. In this case, younger is not better, but rather time and maturity is on your side for the long haul!
"Knowing" mentally does not mean your physicality can do it yet!
At the undergrad and grad "age" - singers are just beginning to develop and build a physical instrument. If the vocal instrument does not reach maturity until well into the 20s and often into the 30s, then at 18, the singer is a vocal embryo!
If a singer is more mature and has been singing in a certain fach or voice type and suddenly is seeing a need to change and morph elsewhere, this is a MAJOR shift in athleticism - muscles will have to relearn/unlearn/redevelop and rebalance. Resonance will have to shift and rebalance. Psychology will have to shift and develop.
None of these things are easy, and ALL of them TAKE TIME.
If you are switching teachers, it takes TIME to develop vocabulary that both of you inhabit. Be patient. Be open. If the teacher is true, he/she will work to find you. If you hide, you are defeating the purpose. Don't make excuses! They get you nowhere and only frustrate you and the teacher. Listen. Be still. Pay attention. Create the space between you and the teacher WITH the teacher.
Ultimately, like building muscle and a discipline of any kind, the specificity of how YOU function and how you WILL function, takes focus, TIME and patience. It takes an ability to see clearly, and a willingness to see honestly.
We often make excuses, place blame when we feel unsure. When we are taken from a perceived comfort zone and placed in a new environment, we need to figure out how swim. The excuses and the blame will only sink those possibilities.
As you listen, observe, and TRY, don't be afraid to ASK. Don't ask because you can, but ask because you are truly trying to put the pieces together!! No question is stupid if it comes from a clear and open honesty.
Develop knowledge of where you are - literally and figuratively. Realize not everything is personal, nor is a correction or a development, a negative. Learn how to swim in this new pond!!! You'll never know what you have to offer if you don't try!
Trying begins with a willingness to HEAR. Hearing requires a willingness to learn.
Not knowing isn't a crutch, but rather an incredible opportunity to discover! That discovery is up to you!