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An Old Dog Trying New Tricks

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An Old Dog Trying New Tricks

Over the last decade, I’ve studied voice and taken lesson from eight teachers.  With teachers, I took years and other just a few.  Every teacher has had their own unique way of explaining vocal production and breathing. They have all used different metaphors and examples.   One thing that remains consistent is that most teachers are trying to communicate the same thing.  Healthy vocal technique that enables you do do what you want with your voice and doesn’t hurt.  I continue to take lessons because there’s always a new place to go with the voice.  To me that is one of the most amazing things about the voice.  I’ve been singing my whole life, every day, and I still have so much to learn.

So the “Old Dog Trying New Tricks” comes in with my semi new teacher. It’s a male.  This is the 2nd time I’ve had a male teacher.  I won’t lie, for advanced technique I’ve doubted than male teachers understand the small differences in the female voice.  It’s fair. Being a female, I know more about female voices than male voices, even I teach several males.  With my male students, I’m very honest up front that although I’ve learned a ton about the male voice, I don’t know what it’s like to be a male singing.  So I depend on my male students to let me know when I’m asking them to do something that doesn’t quite work or feel good.

One of my first teachers was male and it’s been a decade, so I thought I’d give it another try.  Now, I’m studying with a fantastic bass who is very well known in the vocal community and teaches many females.  I’ve had several lessons with him and he’s asking me to sing in ways that I’m haven’t before.  Some of it is straining on my voice (which tells me I’m doing it wrong) and some adjustments make my voice better than it’s been since college.  For someone who’s technique is pretty set, this is tough.

I am reminded of a quote I love.  “If you want to go somewhere you’ve never been, you have to do something you’ve never done.”  I have to keep reminding myself whenever I go into a lesson that my intention is to learn, grow, and express my own voice-not be stuck on old ways of singing and willing to change/modify.  I can always go back, but going forward it the tricky part.

So do I think an old dog can learn new tricks.  YES.  But the old dog must be moldable and willing to change and adjust.  That’s all.  Easy peasy (kind of).

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