I'm only two lectures away from the end of music history this year.  The students have turned in their research papers, which I forgot to bring home with me for grading during Easter weekend.  Darn.  After just two more lectures by me, they will present their research in class, and I will get to sit and listen.  It's my favorite part of each semester.  My voice students did pretty well in the student recital last week; some did quite well, which gladdened my heart.

It's odd to have autumnal thoughts in the springtime, but the rhythm of a school year tends that way.  I begin to wonder if I made the right choices for each student and if they really understood what I was trying to teach them.  It's a strange way to spend your life, trying to tell people how to do something that they can't see or hear properly nor see how you do it -- if how you do it even applies to their situation.  I start thinking about what the most important things are that I can teach my young students.

Fred Scott, former conductor of the Atlanta Opera, used to say that it takes quite a bit of ego to be an opera singer because you have to be willing to give up your own personality and take on the character's personality.  I would add to that wise thought that it takes a solid ego balanced with humility enough to take advice.  I wonder how much of my time I spend trying to convince young people who have not spent much time listening to music beyond the currently popular, that they might have something to learn about music and about vocal production. 

The ideas of what a voice should be in people who have been fed on a steady diet of the engineered sound can be amazing.  Some brash young people have informed me that they don't like how Leontyne Price sounds on recordings.  Oh my!  Some of these young folks decide to learn, and some just never get beyond their own certainty that they already know everything about what they want from life.  Richard Miller called it finding an appropriate vocal image, if I remember correctly.

Sometimes they need to fall on their faces, as one talented youngster did in a recent audition.  She was not very interested in learning the music that I wanted her to learn, so I bargained with her to sing one of my choice and one of her own choice.  The one she picked is a very rhythmically challenging modern piece, and she did not know it in time for competition.  I am thrilled to say that she does know it now, and she's beginning to understand not only how to sing it but how to present it onstage.  I am so glad that I didn't play the "me teacher, you student" game with her.  Not only is she happy with her song, but she's come an exceptionally long way because she really wants to do well.

So, all in all, I'm pretty happy with this year.  At least some of my students in all the classes and in voice are doing really good work.  Most are okay, and the ones who are not okay have made the choice not to do the work.  It's been a good year, and I've learned that I really enjoy blogging!