The Student Becomes the Teacher

I’m finally that teacher. The one who hyperventilates months before a concert. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited, ecstatic – but when I was a student, I used to get annoyed by my teacher’s nerves.

I’d think: “Um, I’m the one performing. So, like, dude, what’s with the wound-up nark?” Okay, I didn’t sound that cool. I was actually a regular Hermione Granger – so…not very popular.

But it’s completely different as a teacher. My nerves now question my ability to teach and whether I’ve showcased them to the best of their ability. Have I challenged them? Have I pushed them too hard? Why can’t they remember that step after a whole year?? Stuff like that.

It’s definitely made me reminisce about my childhood performances.

We all remember my ill-fated National Anthem debacle, and if not, you can read it here. But my nostalgia refers to a magical land, far, far away, called the nineties.

In the nineties, we grew up with Furbies, dial-up and 10 inch TV screens. No, we weren’t peasants – we just simply didn’t give Apple the same respect we do now.

I was a seemingly odd child who took everything seriously. I cried if I didn’t receive 100% on a test and would leave the room if anyone swore or had a severe case of flatulence. Basically, I was under the impression I lived in the 1800’s.

So when I performed for the first time and it wasn’t perfect, I’d spiral into a self-loathing depression. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t make me happy, so I quit for many years.

Then, I chose Music in my senior year of High School because there was nothing else I wanted to waste my time on. It sparked my interest again, but I hated being graded. No matter how hard I tried, my results were poor and my only advice was “to just get better”. If you’re going to give feedback, at least give me something to work with.

So the temporary, day-long depression struck again. That’s when I met my singing teacher. She was and is the most optimistic woman I’ve ever met. She unlocked a passion within me and without her positivity and kindness, I would’ve never walked the red carpet for my song nomination or started my own Glee Club.

That’s when I realised the difference. Creativity shouldn’t be forced or critiqued. Not everyone will love your voice – that’s why singing makes us so vulnerable – everyone has different opinions. That’s why we shake like a wet dog when we get up on stage; people are judging us. It’s a whole audience of freaking Simon Cowells down there.

I’ve changed that mentality for my kids. Sing for yourself – not for anyone else. If it makes you happy, then who cares what anyone else thinks? I’m there to improve their vocals and to help them lose their inhibitions, because at the end of the day, the world wants to see you; not the mask you’re wearing.

Yeah, I’ve made a few mistakes onstage, I’m human. But I don’t get down about it. Instead, I laugh.

When I recognise that not only am I teaching my students to be better performers, but to be self-accepting, then I no longer feel apprehensive about the concert. They’re great kids and have more talent in their fingers than I have in my entire body. If their voice cracks, we laugh and we start again. Just knowing that they’re leaving my classroom with a smile on their faces ensures me that as a teacher, I’m doing okay. And I guess I learned from the best.

Come see Stepping Out in Mudgee Live in Concert on August 17th! Check out the Facebook page for tickets!

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