Saturday, June 20, 2009

Who are you working with? Protocol/Etiquette

Saturday musings as I sip my coffee...

It is amazing to me in this day and age with Google at your fingertips, that many singers do not do their research as they are looking for a teacher or a coach or anybody else they are planning to work with or consult with. And to add to that, how they approach these potential relationships!

This isn't all singers to be sure, but it certainly is enough of them - from music theatre to opera to classical to jazz . It doesn't seem to surface just with one area of our business. I still see this weekly. Yes, weekly, be it through an email, voice mail or consultation.

So, what do you need to do as a singer to find out more?  Often, teachers and/or coaches are recommended to us.  That isn't good enough.  If a teacher or coach is recommended, then as a singer, we must find out WHO THEY ARE.  Google is your friend! How is easy is that? I wish we'd had that when I was up and coming as a singer!!!  

Most teachers have websites or are associated with a school or have a professional affiliation.  This is a beginning to get a general sense of who/where/what.  

Why are you looking? What are you needing?  Sometimes this is a clear cut answer, but often it is not. In fact, the discovery of what you are needing isn't always revealed until you find the teacher or coach that fits you -  for and in that time.  The discovery of the person you are going to work with and the discovery of what you are needing from that collaboration, often continues to morph and grow as you do the research!  

Reading a teacher's philosophy might trigger more clarity in your quest, and thus, move you into another direction or to another teacher! Or, it might suggest to you to contact that teacher directly NOW to discover MORE!

As a teacher, I can usually tell when a singer comes into a consult, whether they have done ANY preliminary research about me or about my studio.  Often, that is evident in the initial email/phone call asking about lessons.  If you email me and your only question is "what do you charge?" and sign your name "Amy L" - you probably will not get a response from me.  

Your initial contact with a teacher or coach, should suggest to them what your intention is; how you got their name; what you've found out about that teacher and what appeals to you about those findings; and then the simple etiquette of asking about availability and rates.  This shows me you are serious and willing to seek out a teacher that can actually DO something for you and with you on your journey as a developing singer and artist!

Your sense of etiquette/protocol shows something about YOU.  Just because you are enquiring about lessons, does not mean I, as the teacher,  need or want to take you.  It goes both ways. I want to know about YOU as a potential student and you should want to know about ME as the teacher.  If it doesn't matter, perhaps you need to explore somewhere else - or something else!

A teacher or a coach is a potential relationship that could be an incredible asset in your development as a singer and as an artist.  Just like any investment, it is IMPERATIVE that you, the singer, get ALL the information available to make your choices.  

After you have done your research, had a consultation to get a sense of the teacher's energy/direction/method of constructing the lesson and how it feels to you, you can then make a truly informed decision about who you will study with at that time.  Your decision is based on many factors, and maybe it comes down to personalities just not clicking.  But you have done your research! You have a sense of who you are standing in front of!

 It is your talent, your instrument, your investment that is at stake.  It is also the teacher's time, expertise, experience and energy being tasked.  Recognize both; respect it all.

If all these things are to be acknowledged and respected, from both sides,  then a simple acknowledgement of WHO you are requesting the time with is not asking too much!  

JUST DO YOUR RESEARCH!  Ask your colleagues for recommendations, but know that is not enough - YOU must explore further and task yourself to find a teacher that you connect with in order to explore your potential.  Finding that teacher requires time and commitment and putting yourself out there in order to discover what could possibly be a life-changing event.  

It is not up to me as the teacher, to tell you who I am.  It is up to you to discover that basic information initially.  The basic information is out there.  It is up to you, the singer, to give the information about who you are/what you are seeking to that teacher.  It creates a level of respect both directions and allows us to move to the next level of possibility!

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