One of my portfolio of jobs is that I teach singing at the London College of Music. This is a three year musical theatre training programme and I teach students across all three years. The current graduating class started with me last year and I have been teaching them now for two years. This year we have had less face to face time due to their rehearsal and performance schedule with shows, but I still see them at least every other week.
Last year was about building a solid technical foundation, which most of them did quite well, and this year has been about tweaking and coaching repertoire – getting them to approach the material as a singing actor. I spend a lot of time giving them tips and tricks of how to use the music to express the text, ways to unlock the text and make it sing, etc.
While teaching them yesterday I noticed an interesting phenomenon. They’re starting to pull away from me. This is entirely appropriate, but still unexpected! They are in their final show, they have done their agent showcase, they literally are a month or two away from being thrust out into the world.
I remember when I was finishing my degree, I was terrified. In fact, I was already auditioning for graduate programmes because I wanted to stay in a conservatory environment instead of getting out into the shark infested waters.
So their thoughts are moving away from me, and the college, and towards their futures (again, as they should be). They are conceiving of a time when they won’t have the support and they are testing out their wings to see if they can fly on their own.
While they are filled with confidence, I suddenly find it terrifying. Have I taught them enough? Have I properly equipped them to fly? It’s nerve wracking and new for me. I have nurtured them and supported them and delighted in watching them grown into mature, communicative young artists and now what I have to do is send them out.
That means letting go.
That means wishing them well, letting them know that I can still be available to support them, in limited ways, should they need me in the future, and trusting that they are strong enough to go it on their own.
Good luck to them. I sincerely wish them all the very best. And I’ll miss them!
This is the blessing of teaching. There are some students that you really can influence and there are some students who really influence you.