giving tuesday (daily blog – day 10)

giving tuesday (daily blog – day 10)

it’s an american thing …

… this frenetic lead-up to Christmas that starts with Veterans’ Day and goes through Thanksgiving, while barreling through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now Giving Tuesday, barely pausing to catch a breath before sliding head-long into Christmas (and Boxing Day).  We are soooo much more civilized in Canada, of course, what with our Thanksgiving occurring well before Remembrance Day and leaving space between 11th November and 24th December to properly celebrate.

But I must admit to being slightly enamored with this idea of Giving Tuesday; a day to intentionally NOT purchase something but to DONATE something. And, of course, given the nature of our relationship with our HUGE and POWERFUL neighbours to the south, Canadians are getting in on some of that Black Friday / Cyber Monday action (I know I did: HELLO THERE NEW RED TURTLE NECK SWEATER THAT I MAY OR MAY NOT BE WEARING RIGHT NOW) and, hopefully some of that Giving Tuesday action as well.

And if you own a voice studio, what better way to do some good in the world than to take the opportunity to give on behalf of the studio? I’ve done this for a few years now: donate a large lump sum (I calculate it by multiplying $10-15 by the number of students in my studio) to a charity of your choice (especially one that fosters music or the arts) on behalf of your studio. Then give everyone in the studio a card (and maybe a sticker or two because: I teach young children too) with a message letting them know how happy you are to be able to donate to such and such a charity in the name of the studio, and wishing them the joy of the season.

It’s a pretty simple way to not have to stress about getting presents for every single person in your studio. (#yourewelcome) And? You get to spread a little joy while you’re not stressing. How great is that?






ps if you know of / are associated with / run a charity that would be ideal for a voice studio to donate to, I hope you’ll leave a comment so we can get some great ideas going!

friday fav five – 18|11|23

friday fav five – 18|11|23

(now on a once-per-month basis. because: real life.)

1. favourite not-really-related-to-voice-teaching-but-SO-TOTALLY-RELATED-TO-VOICE-TEACHING YouTube episode: How to Remain Calm with People, from The School of Life*

Friends, if your default is to assume the worst of the folks who come through your studio door? You may soon find yourself with not a lot of folks coming through your studio door.

i assume the worst about every human i see every time i see them. because i am a cat.


2. favourite blog post: You Wouldn’t Want to Hear Me Sing, by Liz Jackson Hearns

I mean, not to get all up in your head but …

too far into my head, human. GET OUT OF THERE.


3. favourite poopy interview: How the Founder of Poo-Pourri Went From Business Failure to a $300 Million Company, with Marie Forleo**

Seee … that’s a nice little palate … ummm … cleanser … right? (Seriously though, you’re running an awesome-sauce voice studio that has nothing to do with poo, right? So go on and DO THAT THING.)

blue eyed cat with white whiskers

you are unbelievable, human.


4. favourite voice-related, insanely-cool thing: personalized sound wave prints, from Newton and the Apple (on Etsy)

Need a gift for your favourite voice teacher? HANDLED. #yourewelcome

can you make a picture-thing for my kind of unbelievable eyes?


5. favourite podcast episode: The Radio Drama Episode, from This American Life

This is an episode from when Lin-Manuel Miranda was best known for In the Heights sooo …

this might be the weirdest #FFF collection so far. congratulations, human. and i mean that as sincerely as i’m able to mean it. which is not very sincerely at all. #yourewelcome


Go on and teach your ever-loving face off,





* Thanks for the heads up on this one, Dann!
** Thanks for this one, Cara!


giving tuesday (daily blog – day 10)

on being a great voice teacher (daily blog – day 9)

Us voice teachers, we know IN OUR BRAINS that we are likely not the right voice teacher for every student out there. We know it in our brains.

But when we have a paying singer in our studio – especially one who may or may not bring some extra visibility to the studio or to our teaching because of their connections and/or performance opportunities and/or talent – it can be very difficult to admit that we are not the right voice teacher for that singer. Very difficult.

And there are a multitude of reasons that we may not be the right teacher for that singer: our personality does not go well with theirs, our primary teaching style does not mesh with their learning style, our diagnostic skills are not yet developed to the point of being able to accurately pinpoint the inefficiencies in the vocal production so we can help to correct them, we do not know enough about the particular style the singer wants to perform in, etc.

Recognizing that we are not the right teacher for a particular student (regardless of the reason) requires personal fortitude and a deep sense of worth that is separate from the worth we can (and do) get from being great teachers.

But recognizing that AND doing what needs to be done (whether it is changing something in our teaching, increasing our pedagogic knowledge, OR finding the right teacher for that student and releasing them to that teacher) for the good of that student? That’s what makes us the greatest of teachers.





ps if you’re interested in upping your diagnostic skills, here’s a FB Live I did for voice teachers outlining a few ways to do so

pps and if you’re a singer who would like to know how to self-evaluate whether it may be time to move to another teacher, here’s a handy guide from D. Brian Lee

giving tuesday (daily blog – day 10)

pizza vs champagne mindset (daily blog – day 8)

It’s possible for us to get along. All of us voice teachers in the world. AND EVEN IN OUR SMALL TOWNS. (This post was prompted, by the way, by the super-love one of my colleagues displayed at our local festival when several of us were in the room and she just brought us all close and asked if we would like to go out together sometime. Just because she likes us and wants to hang out. Which made us all a little teary. Because: A VOICE TEACHER WHO WANTS TO HANG OUT WITH THE OTHER VOICE TEACHERS IN THEIR TOWN?! What?)

And? It’s possible for us all to teach as many students as we want to teach. Yes, EVEN IN OUR SMALL TOWNS.

To paraphrase Seth Godin’s blog post from today, students aren’t pizza. If you have one pizza and you share it with a group of people, no one will be happy. Because there’s never enough pizza to go around. (And there’s always that one guy who eats half of the pizza before other people even get a chance to eat one slice.)

Students are like champagne at a big fancy party (I am definitely NOT paraphrasing Seth Godin now, just FYI); the more you drink, the more there is. And there’s joy and celebration and sharing. Because champagne is for sharing, not hogging.

Okay. Maybe my metaphor isn’t quite a tight as Seth’s is. But you get the gist, right?

The first step to being a big ol’ generous teacher with fabulous colleagues, is to move away from the scarcity mindset (AKA pizza-brain) that tells us that if THEY have a full studio, there won’t be enough students for me. And move into the luxurious largesse that comes from doing right by our students and pouring champagne for our colleagues.


giving tuesday (daily blog – day 10)

negotiating (daily blog – day 7)

The Untouchable

Every singer brings a little untouchable sumthin-sumthin with them to the studio; that *one thing* that is deeply precious and integral to their sense of self and that singing teachers learn to negotiate around in initial sessions …

In some singers, The Untouchable may be the idea of their own tonal beauty. In others, it may be their beliefs around their musicianship skills. In others, the idea of having a large voice or being a certain voice type. And in others, it may be their need to be an excellent performer.

And no matter what The Untouchable happens to be, the most exhausting students to work with are the ones who are unwilling (or unable) to allow access to The Untouchable. For example, if tonal beauty is The Untouchable, any work that might disrupt a singer’s perception of their tonal beauty will not be tolerated, even if that work is going to ultimately result in greater tonal beauty. Exhaustion (the precursor to resentment) sets in when, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves eternally negotiating around The Untouchable.

Conversely, the most rewarding students to work with are those who are willing (or able) to stop negotiating and allow access to The Untouchable.


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