I’m a compulsory teacher; if I know something that you don’t know? I will really, really want to tell you that thing. (And, yes, I am aware that that compulsion, if not controlled, can make me a bit of an asshat.)

Many of us teachers are this way, aren’t we?

And sometimes in our need to teach, the folks we work with don’t get the chance to discover (or truly learn). Because we over-prescribe.

Phrases such as “it will likely feel like …”, and “can you feel that … “, and “when we do this, this other thing will happen” can so easily replace the open-ended questions that are better at allowing students to truly discover and learn.

~ this is the part where things get personal #youvebeenwarned ~

I recently instructed a singer to allow height in the tongue while saying/singing the /i/ vowel and to revel in how fronted and soft the tongue feels … which wasn’t working for her. When we stumbled across a beautifully-formed /i/ in another context, I remembered how to be a good teacher for a minute and asked, “how does the tongue feel for you right now?”

Guess what she said? NOTHING ABOUT HEIGHT. OR FRONTING. OR RELEASED FORWARD. OR ANY OF THE OTHER DIRECTIVES I OFTEN GIVE TO SINGERS.

She said: “my tongue feels flat.”

HUH.

Buuuuut … the tongue IS NOT FLAT. [I did not say this out loud.]

And then she said, “as compared to the concave-shape my tongue had when I had the swallowed/back /i/ sound”.

HUH. [I need more HUH moments in my studio, friends. Those are the good ones.]

Go on and challenge yourself to prescribe a little less and ask a little more.

#teachyourfaceoff

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