For those of you who care about what I am doing when I am not writing, last week I began a new job as a high school voice teacher. The set-up couldn’t be sweeter. The school finds all the students, schedules them, and gives me a room in which to teach. But I am not employed by the school. The students pay me directly, and so I get to do the part of the job that I am good at, and completely skip the part I am bad at! But even with this sweet deal, I was nervous going in.
My wife told me not to be nervous, on account of I still think I am in high school anyway, so I will fit right in. Very helpful advice. But it is kind of true. Except when I look in the mirror, I still feel 18 most of the time, and I loved high school in a way that I never did college. These are my people. This is my age group. But would they think I was lame? Only one way to find out…
The first day was not like other days, because instead of my normal rotation of students (which starts this week), I was doing group sessions with the choral males, assessing their voices, making part recommendations, and giving the choral director any trouble areas to look out for, vocally. I have never taught group voice before, so this was a new experience for me. Here is what I did:
I started out with group warm-ups, giving them a chance to sing. I supplied the most basic and fundamental rules of singing (don’t forget to breathe…NO! Not that way!), and then as they grew more comfortable I got them to sing alone using similar warm-ups to what they had already sung. In between I asked them why they wanted to sing. We talked about what they liked and what they didn’t like. And at the end of each session I had a small idea of where each kid was at.
I came away with this thought: high school kids are awesome! They have only started to realized that they know everything, unlike my college students who filter every new piece of advice through the lens of already knowing everything ahead of time. These kids were excited to hear and try new things, and they actually listened to me! Every time! Now, I’m sure some of that will wear off as we get to know each other better, but it really got me excited about teaching them. I wish I could go do it every day!
But it’s once a week. Which is probably more than enough. Let’s see how this goes for a while. I am always starting new careers and projects, but this one feels really good. I didn’t just jinx it, did I? Hopefully not. And who knows how I will feel at the end of the year. But for now, Tenor Dad: High School Voice Teacher sounds pretty good to me. Even if Tenor Dad: High School Student does have a slightly more comfortable ring to it.