A pandemic has come and gone, yet the world is still inside out, upside down and backwards. So many emotions still to deal with. So much trauma still to cope with. So many things are not the same. So many things will NEVER be the same again. We went to bed in one world and woke up in a different one. We lost our bearings. We lost hope. We lost our way. We have lost our resilience and our ability to cope.
Nothing has made this more clear to me than the physical, mental and emotional state of my vocal students since 2020. I have gone from coaching strong, resilient, organized, and cheerful students to becoming a counselor for the ill, depressed, and completely exhausted students who can’t put one foot in front of the other to get on with their day. I understand this of course. I have gone through many of the same things myself and have battled to make it back to the top…..wherever that is now.
This summer I have been working on a plan to bring some order, structure and continuity back to my work. Yes, I will still remain a part-time counselor, I mean we are collaborative pianists after all, and especially in the vocal studios, mental health is everything! But I needed a plan so that I could move forward and not stay stuck in a pile of mud sucking my thumb!
So in true Vivian fashion, I’ve been reading three or four books simultaneously, building a garden, unpacking from a horrific move and praying for direction. I mean we are on break….time to cram in as much as you can before the insanity starts all over again in 6 weeks right?
This morning inspiration hit and I want to give you a quick overview of what will be coming in some future blog posts.
Right before Christmas, one of our tuba students at the university gave me a great idea. He said he always looks at his work as a musician in three tiers. The first level is fundamentals and includes all kinds of things that you wouldn’t have even considered before the world changed. We now have to consider life skills as fundamentals to be taught. How can you learn to sing if you can’t organize your music or learn how to practice, or keep a calendar, or you don’t sleep and you even forget to eat. I kid you not, I have had students this past year that have told me that they forgot to eat on a fairly regular basis. Really?
The next tier is musicianship. I would say this is where we used to start and it includes things like correct notes, rhythms, diction, knowing the poetry, understanding the time period that the piece is from, finding the correct voice placement, etc.
The third tier is artistry and this is where it gets down to brass tacks to be prepared for a senior recital. This is all about helping the student to find their message and their purpose and to build skills that will go with them when they leave and go out into the real world.
Over the next few weeks I will break down these thoughts into step by step ideas, a way to build a structure to move forward again. I hope you will join me for this adventure and feel free to chime in. I’d love to hear what kinds of things have worked for you and your students in this post-normal world.