The Hardest Thing About Teaching + New Book 

Want to know the absolute most difficult thing about teaching? When a student ghosts you. I have taught hundreds (thousands?) of students at this point…and whenever a student who has been with me for more than a few lessons quits, I always want to know what happened. Most of the time, students quit because of life changes, like they’re moving, or got a new job, or lost a job, or had a baby, etc. 

My teaching methods are counter-cultural. For piano students that have worked with me, they often mentioned that it has brought a lot more fun, curiosity and creativity to the process of learning how to play piano. 

Singing is another story. Singing is inherently personal, the same instrument you use to sing, is also the instrument you use to speak, to cry, to breathe, to swallow,  to scream, to laugh. What often shocks a student, even though I mention this in the beginning, is how vulnerable they will feel in the process of learning how to sing. There is no way to get better at singing in a deep and lasting way, without becoming more self-aware in some way in the process, without facing this vulnerability in some way or another. 

For some students, this is exactly what they are looking for, for others, they are not ready for this. Or that’s all I can assume, because those particular students are the ones that will ghost me. This is quite rare, but it's painful for me when it happens. I deeply care about every student that I work with. 

Becca joined me in a group-singing experiment of sorts and had quit lessons after that. I had taught many many group classes before, but I was venturing into new teaching methods for a group setting…and I knew this was a risk. I knew, because it scared me, that there was no way I would do this without learning something through the process. What I learned, was priceless…and a topic for another day. When she quit,  I asked, “what happened?” as I usually do, completely expecting to be ghosted. I ask, even when I think I’ll be ignored, because I want the opportunity to learn from the experiences I have with others, even if it's not what I want to hear, even if it hurts. 

Most of the time, those ending conversations are actually wonderful, a rare moment in our ghosting-society where we get to experience closure…usually both the student and I come away from the experience happy to have had the conversation. 

To my surprise, when I asked Becca to meet up,  she said she’d meet with me. In our conversation, she gave me hard truths about her experience in this social experiment. It was very humbling and painful to hear. In fact, the next few days, I was in a daze. I faced deep doubt about myself as a teacher. I officially had an experiment that I wanted to call a failure and even faced group rejection, which we know from science is one of the most difficult things for humans to face. 

Yet what I learned in that conversation, made me more sensitive, caring and aware of just how vulnerable the process of singing is…and created the path for me to discover piano as a crucial piece in giving singers the confidence and courage they need to sing without all of their focus being on self-criticism, fear of criticism from others, or fear of sounding bad. 

Sometimes, learning is quite painful. When I learn from failure, group rejection and the end of (or a change of) a relationship…it's easy to try to numb the pain by shaming myself, telling myself  “I’m no good” which then frees me from the responsibility to learn from  mistakes and do better…or go into a of mindset of “it's all their fault” which also does the same thing. The most helpful, albeit painful, place, is to stay in the middle, to say, “I’m human, I tried something new, it didn’t work, here’s what I learned about myself, here’s what I learned from others, here’s what was painful about it, here’s what I’ll do next.” 


Assuming you’re not triggering past traumas that need processing or something of that nature, the process of learning how to sing and perform should be super fun and not a painful experience. In lessons with me, you’re in a safe space for that. 

If you become a professional singer however, dealing with critics, haters, etc. means that you will eventually learn through a painful experience something you didn’t know before. Find any famous singer…and there will be a litany of nasty comments and criticisms from people who have never sung in their life, who stay safely in their comfort zone. When haters are totally off base, it's easy to dismiss. The tough ones are when there is actually some truth in what they’re saying. The hardest is when someone doesn’t hate you, they actually care…their truth comes from kindness…and they told you because you asked them and they had your full consent. 

I’m generally against flexing my value or ability as a teacher/coach…it's not because I don’t know how good of a teacher I am. I’m proud of the work and growth I’ve committed to thus far.  It’s because when I trace back all the things I’m able to do as a teacher, I find myself humbled and deeply grateful for all of the amazing teachers (and terrible teachers, I learned from them what not to do) and people in my life that helped me get to the level of coaching/teaching that I’m at now. 

We are now good friends and we have a level of trust with each other that I’m not sure would have happened, had both of us not been willing to be vulnerable and take chances…both together and in our own life histories. 

What I feel deeply grateful for in particular today,  is Becca’s courage to tell me the truth, even though it hurt…and to say it from a place of love and with kindness. 

Had she not gone through her own learning process, her own story with reclaiming her self-worth, her courage to express herself, to create, to speak her truth…I’m not sure how I would have gotten to the level of ability as a teacher that I’ve gotten to today. A piece of her story weaved into mine, which weaves into the lives of my students and you, dear reader. 

What blows my mind is that long before Becca ever met or worked with me, she had her own story… facing her truth and reclaiming her worth…and her story is such a page-turning tale that she should write a book about it…oh wait! She (courageously) did! 

In Becca’s book, “I Call Bullsh**”, Becca shares her story of overcoming betrayal and finding her self-worth.  In voice lessons I’ve worked with many woman (men too!) who I imagine would deeply connect with Becca’s story and find their deeper reasons for pursuing singing and/or their authentic self. Oh, and she includes me as part of her story! 

You Can Check Out Becca's Book Here 


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