I really wish people without any musical knowledge would stop trying to tell me how to do my job. I had a new student today and I ask her the usual questions--what kind of music do you sing, what voice type, etc. As I'm asking her if she usually sings high voice or low voice, her mom interrupts and asks if she should just sing for me instead of me asking.
And yes, I was planning on assessing her voice for myself. But this was as we were walking to the room. And it's always good for me to have a general idea of what to expect. I was just asking so I had a place to start. I mean, if someone tells me they've been singing alto for years, I may find that they have more high notes than they think, but I also know that if I want to bring that out I'm going to have to do it slowly. And if someone always sings soprano one, that doesn't tell me everything, but it does give me a general idea of how low I can get them to go in exercises.
But, anyway, I ran through some exercises with her. I made my assessment. She had a reasonable upper register and, like most signers, she had a tendency to press down when she was hovering around the range people tend to speak in. So, since I got NO feedback whatsoever when I was asking my questions, I make the decision to start a soprano piece with a kind of high tessitura with the intention of keeping her well out of the speech range to keep her from pressing.
The highest note was a fifth below what I had her singing in warm-ups. All the notes were in her range. But not all of them were EASY notes. Her mom interrupts me and comments that she seems to be struggling and tells me she thinks the piece isn't in her range. I try to explain that I made the decision based on what I'd heard during warm-ups and that the notes WERE in her range but that there were some technical issues that need to be addressed to make them easier.
Then her mom comments that the tone isn't consistent the way mine was when I was demonstrating. Well DUH! If my student's sound production is better than my own it's time for them to find another teacher who knows more than I do. I can't help a student who already knows as much as me. But then her mom keeps pushing and claims that those higher notes just come naturally to me. But they didn't. It took me a LONG TIME to sing that G consistently and clearly. Consistency was developed. For a long time, there was a huge difference in timbre between my higher and lower registers and my top notes sounded thin and pinched. And I couldn't have made them better if I'd stayed away from them!
But after more pushing, I pick another song that's lower than that one by a 4th. So now I'm almost a full octave lower than the highest note I had her hitting in exercises. I get to the higher part and I get another "That's too high!". Then my student hits the nail on the head and says that the transition from the lower notes to the highest one is the problem in this case. That's right! Because for most of the phrase she was in comfortable speech-range and started pressing and then couldn't adjust quickly enough for the top note. That was EXACTLY why I wanted her starting with a song that started high and STAYED high. Then there wouldn't have been as much of a need to adjust!
To prove a point, I had her go back to the exercises and took her up to C6. Then, once she hit that note, I tried to explain that that note was MUCH higher than anything I was having her sing and that her voice is capable of producing those notes, it's just a matter of working on placement and support to make them sound more resonant.
Then after the lesson, her mom just keeps talking about how she doesn't think that those notes work for her daughter even though they come so naturally to me. And I'm just like -.-. You're PAYING me to TEACH!
1. There's a method to my madness! There's no point in setting my students up to fail. If I ask them to do something, something I've heard prompted me to do it or because I've seen it work well before.
2. Everything I'm demonstrating DIDN'T come naturally to me. It's all LEARNED. If it was all just naturally there, why pay me to teach? You can't teach something that just exists. You CAN teach something you've studied and gained KNOWLEDGE about. I can't teach someone how to
3. ESPECIALLY on the FIRST LESSON, but student's aren't going to be producing sound the same way I do. If they are, there's no point in paying me because there isn't much I can teach them. If they have the same knowledge and same skills as I do, what is there for me to teach? They'd be better off looking for a more experienced teacher.
4. If you ONLY sing stuff you know, you're never going to grow. If I only ever sang what was familiar, I'd never have learned to sing in all the languages I love so much now and I would never have gained access to a ton of wonderful literature and my range would be significantly smaller, which means I'd also have access to a lot less literature. Even now, I'm working with a teacher on a piece in Russian, which I've never sang in before. You just don't LEARN by only doing what's easy and familiar!
Ugh. I'm just so sick of parents bringing their kids to me to teach and then interrupting and trying to tell me how to do my job. I mean, I know I'm a lot younger than most of the other teachers, but I had to submit a resume and get hired for my qualifications just like everyone else. I'm capable of doing my job, thank you very much.