Will I develop a dependence upon my vocal teacher to know when I am singing well?
Some students are hesitant to begin taking lessons because they fear becoming co-dependent with their teachers, or developing a reliance upon their teachers to know when they are singing correctly. They worry that teachers will be more concerned about taking their money for as long as possible than producing desirable results through quality instruction. While there may indeed be some singing teachers out there who are only motivated to make a living, most vocal teachers genuinely care about the success of their students. After all, the reputation of the teacher is important to building a successful teaching business, and if a teacher’s students are not improving as a result of the instruction that they are receiving, they are not going to stay, and will likely caution others to not waste their money by taking lessons with that particular teacher.
Furthermore, responsible vocal instructors want their students to develop self-awareness that will lead to lasting results and long-term vocal health. Good teachers will equip their students with accurate knowledge and practical skills. They will teach them how to listen for indications of good or poor tone (proprioceptive responses to sympathetic vibration in the body), self-monitor breathing and posture to know when the tone is being adequately supported or to recognize signs of tension or strain, and diagnose technical errors and then find practical solutions for them. They will want their students to be able to successfully apply what they learn during their lessons to their vocal repertoire, as well as to their singing after they have ceased taking lessons with them. In order to do this, teachers can’t keep the complex workings of the voice and the nuances of technique a secret from their students. They must be willing to share all of their knowledge and “tricks” so that their students can truly improve and learn, and be good, healthy singers for a lifetime.
It is also the student’s responsibility to build this self-awareness and independence by learning everything that he or she can from his or her instructor. Students initially hire teachers because they recognize a need that they have for instruction offered by an expert who knows and understands more than they do about a particular skill. This humble acknowledgement of one’s own limitations and need for guidance is not a precursor to developing an unhealthy dependence upon someone else.
Also, responsible teachers will be able to acknowledge when they are failing to produce desirable results in their students and be willing to either refer them to another teacher who might do a better job or offer an honest evaluation of their potential that may ultimately lead to an ending of the business relationship. Teachers who are not simply motivated by making money through retaining students for as long as possible will be straightforward with their students whom they feel have limited potential, or whenever they feel as though there is a poor student-teacher match.
Students are paying customers, and they should expect maturity, honesty and professionalism from the teachers whom they hire to train their voices.