There is a lot of information on singing, coaching and pedagogy out there. A brief Google or YouTube search can be enough to start feeling slightly overwhelmed at times and with the pressure on for us to be more visible via social media it’s understandable why some of us can feel a bit inadequate from time to time. If this isn’t you, then great! But personally I have struggled in the past with feeling like I’m not doing enough, for the client, or for myself, and for me, this can lead to a negative downward spiral. How can we (mostly me LOL) avoid feeling like the “bad singing teacher”?
Well firstly, I’m a firm believer that the “bad singing teacher” doesn’t exist. Nobody wakes up in the morning and sets out to be a “bad singing teacher”, and whilst we certainly shouldn’t be doing nothing to progress our understanding of the voice, if you’ve completed the BAST course you know A LOT and, yes, you are helping. Even if your client comes away from your lesson with just 1 piece of new information then you have done your job, and, remember there is NOTHING wrong with saying “you know, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’m going to do some research this week and see if I can come back to you with an answer”.
Secondly, learn to “floss one tooth”. Cultivating a habit can be tricky business, whether it’s setting aside more time to do some further reading or starting to floss your teeth every day. The answer? “Floss one tooth”. Pick one topic, either from the BAST course or from another area that you may be interested in, and start to read about it in small bursts. Don’t immediately set yourself the task of finding out all there is to know, begin small and build slowly. It doesn’t matter if everyone on the forum is suddenly talking about straws, if you’ve decided to read about effective hydration then stick to your guns, trust me straws aren’t going anywhere – literally, cue plastic straw debate – and you can always begin your own research when you’re ready.
Thirdly. Breakthroughs in lessons come in the most surprising ways. This week I instructed a client to sing the vowel/consonant combination “VOM” on an octave and a half scale. She misheard me and sang “BOM” instead which actually turned out to be a far more effective exercise. My point being, that sometimes your best-made plans can be derailed and for the better!
Now admittedly this blog post has been just as much for me as it is for anyone else, but if you have been or are feeling overwhelmed by how much you think you don’t know, remember that you know a lot and by applying what you already know you’ll be making a huge difference to the singers who access your services. Also, remember that this can be a lonely profession and so if you’re struggling for answers or everywhere to start looking for them, reach out! It’s what we’re here for. ☺

About Ian Davidson

Ian Davidson is a Singing Teacher and Vocal Coach based in Liverpool and Manchester (UK). He the co-director of Balance Vocal Studio and past Education Director for the Vocology in Practice global network of singing teachers, and a BAST Trainer. Ian has been a lecturer at a number of different universities and colleges, most notably the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts and he holds a MA in Music from the University of Salford. His thesis entitled “Can’t Sing, Won’t Sing - Afraid to Sing?” earned him a Distinction in his studies and continues to help people to overcome their fears and find their voices on a regular basis.