Every week when I go to my singing and music theory lessons I am scared. I think that any previous praise or positive sessions are the result of fluke and this time I will be told off for not working hard enough, or not doing something correctly.
Why is this?
For one thing, I have a theory that almost all music teachers are fickle and eccentric. Perhaps it’s because they spent hours intensively working one-to-one with student and quite often find themselves repeating the same advice which rarely seems to be followed… As a music teacher – that would be one guess. Another possibility is that, as musicians, we’re all a bit mental. You need to be to do this for a living.
For another, I never ever feel that I have put enough work in. Even when I practise as much as I can, I always feel (in singing) that I’m behind what I could achieve if I just put a bit more work in. The only answer to this is to work harder. In theory, I feel like I’m pretending that I know what I’m doing and it’s all going to fall apart if I make a loud noise or move too suddenly.
Of course, there are always the scars of lessons past. When I was young and I didn’t understand something, but it wasn’t explained properly. That is the worst feeling in the world. Once when I was at university, I arrived to a singing lesson three minutes early and was told off for it. There was no way I could concentrate because the injustice stung so much. I didn’t stay with that teacher for long. Another time, when I was still at school, I very seriously asked my friend to help me to break my arm so that I wouldn’t have to go to my cello lesson.
In the end, though, it’s informed the way I teach. I don’t tell people off. I don’t get angry because someone hasn’t practised. Instead, I reward my student with stickers when they have done their practise, or if they impress me with their cooperation or concentration. I want them to associate their music lessons with happiness and being relaxed – not with dread.