Change? You can!

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I’m often contacted by people who want to learn- but apparently already know it all! IMPARATO!

Their first sentence during their first lesson usually goes something like My name’s John/Jane and I cannot sing in tune.

Or worse – There’s nothing I’m good at, I have troubles learning stuff and serious time-keeping issues. I’m lazy, I’ve got six kids to look after, I suffer from heartburn, and I smoke; I’m a teacher, my voice is messed up for good; I can’t read or write properly, I’ve got anxieties, I’m stressed and traumatised. I hate English and can’t sing in it; I’ve got an ingrown toenail and – most of all – I’m only here to let off some steam, SO don’t expect me to work hard because I just won’t.

Other wannabe students are affected by the well-knownNun-provoked trauma (which you can read about here:

The worst is yet to come – I’m a paying customer, so it’s up to me to decide what you are going to teach me and how. I expect to be showered with attention and sympathy for my every issue – including my ingrown toenail.

This last claim has to be the most frustrating of them all!

I’d be a liar if I denied having at least one of these thoughts when confronted with these types of students:


- Apologies, honey, but this is a singing class – if you think you can’t cope, that’s the door!


Still, in the real world my reaction is way different – I encourage my students and tell them that it’s all just preconceptions and that they have all it takes to improve their current singing skills, as poor as they may be.

At times it might take some fighting to change a student’s mind, especially when they are determined to prove you wrong and that they actually do suck at singing.

This article clearly refers to people who take up singing as a hobby – I will dedicate specific blog entries to professional singers or advanced learners who can sing from sheet music andcome to me to hone their technique.

But let’s go back to our main focus.

If you want to learn fast, the best thing you can do is be in the moment and block out all sorts of preconceptions, prejudices or limiting beliefs. If you go to someone to be taught certain skills, I assume you must be aware that your knowledge is NOT advanced enough to judge your own level of said skills. Otherwise, you wouldn’t need a teacher.


… is what you’ll need plenty of when you embark on an artistic development path. By openness I mean a mind free of prejudice, and NOT holding on to the idea of being useless at something!


Does this mean one CAN change?

Sure! Ever since ancient times wise men have taught us that relentless tenacity, perservance, consistency and passion are the real building blocks of any successful warrior/athlete/musician/singer.

But you do need talent, right?

I’ll deal with talent in future blog entries because I’d like to delve into the idea of talent in scientific rather than abstract terms. We’ll first need to understand whether there is such a thing as talent at all, and then try and define it.

The secret of passion

I understand passion as an unconscious drive to wake up every morning with a one-track mind focused on our goals.

Passion is where motivation meets one’s ability to endure pain and boredom.

Passion is what fuels self-discipline.

Passion is what makes our goals worthwhile.

It’s our only true virtue.

Passion is getting up before sunrise, not because we’re forced to, but because we want to look after our bodies (i.e. our tools of the trade as singers); it’s spending all our little money on classes, courses, auditions, books, instruments, gym subscriptions and personal trainers and haircare products – amazing hair is paramount on stage (story of my life!). It’s eating clean, not smoking and keeping smokers at arm’s length, staying away from cold draughts, keeping safe social distancing so as not to catch the flu (well before Covid) and not going anywhere without a hygrometer.

If you do all this, you’re either a Premier League footballer… or a singer

Passion is consistent practice, daily training, keeping in shape even when your body is begging you for mercy, even when you’re bored to death, it’s too hot or too cold… even when you practice like crazy to be able torise up to the occasion of a big gig or part – which in the end you don’t get chosen for!

Still you don’t give up, you keep going and get back on your feet each time you fall, no matter what people say.

These are the staples for anyone wishing to embark on a – hopefully successful – learning path.

Hiring a trainer is not enough

If you hire a trainer at the gym but don’t eat sensibly, it won’t be your trainer’s fault if results fail to materialise.

The same applies when learning how to play an instrument – no matter how much money you spend, you will not go far without the right mindset .

So how to approach “problematic students” who believe they’ll never learn how to sing?

Everyone can improve their pitch, time keeping, sound quality, stage presence – no one is a lost cause, there’s a chance for everybody!

But you first need to take ownershipof the changes you want to make and decide you want that improvement and you want it bad – so bad that self-discipline will effortlessly grow in us like moss in an alpine forest.