“Could you fit me in this week? I have a performance coming up soon and I need a lesson!”
Today I got this message from a student. I often hear such desperate requests from current students and even from new students, many of whom have never had a voice lesson in their lives. Today’s request brought up a feeling of anxiety in me, which I attributed to my “knowing” the following:
Realistically, vocal progress occurs over an extended time period, usually in tiny increments. Yes, amazing “aha” moments can occur, perhaps once or twice in a lifetime. But most of your progress is going to be the accrual of experience over the course of however long you sing and study.
The harsh truth is that you are not likely to be a significantly better singer next week, no matter how many lessons you have between now and then. But if you have regular lessons until this time next year, you will likely be singing with far more ease and skill. In retrospect, you will have advanced profoundly, and you will not likely be able to identify any specific moment at which the transformation took place.
After thinking about it for a few minutes, however, I realized that my anxiety was coming from a conflict between the old beliefs I have written above in italics and my current awareness: that instantaneous transformation is indeed possible and may very well occur at your next lesson. It’s not realistic or reasonable to expect that, but why not be open to the possibility anyhow? I have seen such transformations happen many times, in the lessons I take and teach.
By the way, I agreed to see the student who contacted me, even though I’m “officially” on vacation. It seemed the least I could do for her, since she helped me to identify and correct an unhelpful thought process!