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Lifelong Learners

As a teacher, it can be all too easy to only ever keep teaching - to focus so much on imparting knowledge that I almost forget to pursue more knowledge.


I absolutely loved college and grad school, and over the years I have often found myself longing for opportunities to be in an active learning community. Spending this last year in the PhD program has certainly changed things by placing me back in the role of student. It has been an incredible experience in so many ways, not the least of which has been the chance to take private voice lessons. Between the lessons, ENT visits, a vocal pedagogy course and extended singing time at church, I have learned so much more about the voice (you know, that thing I have taught about for YEARS) than I ever knew before.


Enter the 2019 Andover Educators Body Mapping Conference. Through the unexpected generosity of a dear friend, I was able to attend this conference and have my mind blown to musical smithereens. I received three one-on-one lessons from highly experienced teachers, each of whom spoke to different areas of my musicianship:

  • Lisa Marsh (Oregon) showed me the benefit of freedom in the shoulders while playing piano. I've never been a physically demonstrative pianist, but I had no idea I'd inhibited my movement to such an extent.

  • Amy Likar (California) suggested ways to connect the shoulder/arm movement to my breathing. Since I almost always sing while playing piano at church, any unnecessary tension could inhibit everything from vocal range to endurance.

  • Janet Alcorn (Iowa) encouraged me to let "involuntary actions" respond to my intention - to allow my voice to respond as naturally as possible to what my brain was telling it to do. (This was particularly interesting considering the vocal issues I'd been working through over the past year.)

Obviously no single experience is going to permanently alter a person's body of knowledge or training - neural pathways are incredibly strong. However, knowledge isn't supposed to remain static. There is always more to learn; always someone who knows more; always some new idea that revolutionizes things. Lifelong learning really is a thing.


I posted a few Instagram videos during the conference in which I encouraged viewers to seek out musicians who would encourage their learning. I am beyond thankful that I've been allowed opportunities to teach AND to learn ... each is made richer by the other.


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