"No one else knows my voice like she does."
"She had to completely rebuild my technique last year, I was a mess when I came to her."
"I can never warm myself up as good as he warms me up in lessons."
"She can be really mean in lessons, but that helps me stay motivated."
What other professionals do we give this kind of credit and power? Athletic coaches? Classroom teachers? Physical therapists? Pscychologists?
Even the phrase “he warmed me up” is giving a lot of strange credit to the person sitting at the piano playing scales. Would you say about a track coach that they ‘ran you’ or that they set out a course and then you went on the run?
Is part of this co-dependent dynamic the nature of the one on one relationship in the voice studio? Do we give choir directors or group voice instructors the same dose of 'she made my voice into what it is today'?
Can an instructor really ‘rebuild’ a student’s voice or technique? Is it possible to erase all of someone’s previous experience and then take credit for everything that happens thereafter? And who is doing the building/re-building, the instructor or the student?
Is there something comforting for students to put their learning and progress completely in someone else’s hands? You “warm me up”, you tell me what to sing, you tell me my voice type, you tell me when it’s good, when it’s bad. Is this appealing to some, or just part of the culture we all accept?
Do you have any stories of voice teacher pedestal-ing that you’d like to share? Did you ever feel like you had the right to question the power dynamic between you and your instructor? What made you continue taking lessons in that situation? What was your perception of your contribution to your learning, progress and assessment in and out of lessons?