We're counting down to the end of the semester at the college at which I teach, and as usual at this time of year half the students are sick.  Several have just noticed that they only have a few weeks left to finish memorizing their repertoire for juries, and a few are actually on track and prepared.  Hail the few!

When I was new to college teaching, I used to be frustrated by last minute preparation, excuses, and too-late-to-do-a-good-job efforts from students.  It doesn't bother me so much anymore, although I do celebrate the students who keep their eyes on the prize.  It seems that about half of any group of freshman singers are shocked by the amount of work -- both physical and mental -- that it takes to learn and perform on a professtional level.  The ones who decide to buckle down and make the effort are generally on track and ready to be serious performers by the end of their sophomore year.  To this day I have no sure-fire method for determining who the bucklers down will turn out to be.

Sometimes students come to school with a clear idea of what will be asked of them because they had blessedly aware high school teachers.  They generally barrel on through their college years, sign up for young artist programs or grad school, and get on with real life.  These students are few and far between.

More often students come with either a small voice and large expectations or a large voice and no clue how to handle it.  Of these students some will work hard and others will fritter away their time, generally changing majors after they find out that they actually will need to know things about foreign languages, physiology, and technique to be a serious singer.  I think that it is important to support the students who really work, but it is also important to be patient with some of the students who don't initially show a lot of promise.  I really think that I've had more disappointments from students who showed a lot of promise but then failed to work hard than the other way around.

On the whole this year I'm pretty happy with my students.  Some have really "gotten it", and the rest are okay.  We just have to wait and see who decides that they really want to sing.