I am a novice singer, have been taking lessons for 14 years, weekly, from the same instructor. Four or five months ago he stood me up and I was peeved, thinking that perhaps my learning to sing days are over. We did, however, have lunch and talk things out. Our final agreement included these provisions: taking the summer off ( the next three months or so ), were we to resume it would be an arrangement similar to the one we had, with a small exception that I did not need to arrive at four o’clock sharp, but had ten minutes of leeway. The lesson was not to start when I arrived, but at four; I could arrive early and expect to be welcomed. While we were taking the summer off, we’d both be thinking about our situation. We would have to mutually agree to return; there was nothing automatic about a resumption of the lessons.
As those months passed, I experienced the ambivalence of my singing reality. I sang only at Mass. I missed singing more regularly and I missed the “tuning until I got it right” aspect of singing. I did not miss attending lessons weekly; that is, I enjoyed the freedom to schedule my time without scheduling around a weekly lesson. In short, while I didn’t miss going to my lessons, I did miss being at them.
I also worried that if I never had another lesson all I would do was regress, and eventually Ellie would be inching away from me again when I’d sing at Mass … or anywhere in public. Ellie was pretty sure that I had improved so much that it was not possible to regress that far. While I respected both Ellie’s insight into life and her musicality, I remained unconvinced.
The brilliant idea, or so it seemed, that occurred to me, combined the freedom of no lessons with the discipline of regular interaction with my instructor. The idea was returning to my lessons but less frequently than weekly. Ellie had done that to wonderful effect with her piano lessons. And while it seemed to me a wonderful integration of two powerful forces within me, I wasn’t sure how my instructor would respond to it. I was, after all, something of a special project; while he directed choir, to the best of my knowledge he had no other individual pupils.
When the time came to touch base, I shared my ambiguity of liking the freedom of no lessons with the horrible missing of the lessons and suggested that twice per month might work well for me, say the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays ( or 1st and 3rd ), since my lessons had been on Tuesday from the beginning. I asked him if he’d be open to something like that.
He thought it a great idea, his exact words being, “YEAH, lets do the every-other week,” and glommed onto the second and fourth Tuesday, saying that worked best for him and his wife, and said, “starting on 10/11”
I am waiting for my first lesson of this new regimen; I am nervous and excited; I am looking forward to returning to the discipline he has helped me instill in my voice. Be still my heart!
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