Saturday, February 03, 2007

Fraudulent claims

I've been teaching a lot of voice lessons lately. I have those ten students in St. George, five at SUU, and three that come to me privately, with a couple more wanting to start up. On top of that, I've been vocal coaching the kids in the musical at Joel's high school. Not that I'm complaining...I'm really only spending about 10 hours a week teaching, and I know I couldn't make that kind of moolah at any other part time job. We definitely need the money and I am always amazed at how I seem to have lessons just fall into my lap whenever we're hurting financially. I feel so blessed to have this talent and skill so that I am able to help our little family make ends meet.

That's just it though. I often feel like a great big fraud while I am teaching. Sure, I can sing. And yeah, I have a piece of paper that says I spent a lot of time and money earning a degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy. That pedagogy part says I can teach and that I know what the heck I am doing. And yet, sometimes I just feel like I don't have any idea. Like I'm grasping at straws. Like I'm making everything up as I go along. Like I don't know why on earth people are paying me to teach them to sing because I'm not really sure if I can do it!

Of course, I would never let on to anyone that I feel this way. I act like I know exactly what I'm doing at all times. Like the vocalises I'm coming up with off the cuff were carefully planned out to fix the exact problem that the student has. Like I know just which song I would like them to sing as I look over their anthologies. Like I know the answer to any question posed to me (except "why does my hard palate hurt when I'm singing?" If you know the answer to that one let me know, because I've done a ton of research on it and I can't come up with an answer for her to save my life. And yes, I admitted I didn't know, don't worry.)

I'm not really sure why I feel this way, because I really do find teaching to be something I'm pretty good at. My students have been fairly successful and nobody is happier than I am when they get a concept. I had a girl at SUU last semester that has never sung, just wanted to try it out. She had no range. It was maybe a fifth, if not less. This very same girl, because I taught her how, now has almost a 3 octave range. I have seen huge improvement in the students that are teachable (we won't talk about the ones that aren't, and I have decided not to take responsibility for their lack of progress).

I guess sometimes I just can't believe that I'm not the student anymore. I always feel like there is so much that I don't know that I couldn't possibly be qualified to teach the things I do know. I guess I'll just have to continue walking into each lesson and pretending I know everything. You know, instead of walking into each lesson ready to learn something. The thing is, I do learn something. In every single lesson.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. Oh this really IS gorgeous! Love the header. And seriously- if I've been told I so CANNOT sing, could you teach me anyway? =)


  2. I know EXACTLY what you mean, Lara. It makes me wonder if our teachers in college felt the same way sometimes!

    I think the best source of knowledge in teaching voice is from your own singing experience, and you have plenty of that!

    Keep it up! I'm sure you're changing lives while you're teaching, trite as that may sound.

  3. We are all living a big hoax in our jobs.
    It's a way of life. :)
    And as you get better, you're just actually better at making-up crap. :)
    Want me to deliver YOUR baby? :) After almost 10 years I know a LOT of nursing crap.

  4. I sooo agree with Hilary!

    There are days that I stand up there in front of my class and wonder what the heck I'm doing and seriously wonder if I'm damaging them for life because I feel like I have NO CLUE! And - THEY ARE IN FIRST GRADE! Yikes!

    I think it's just human nature to second guess ourselves and think we don't know what we're doing. I love that quote that says, "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are great beyond measure!"

    Hang in there and enjoy the blessings of using your talents!

  5. Don't worry, you are NOT alone--I think all teachers live in fear that someone will eventually find out that we are frauds! Just remember that a good teacher is a good learner and that's what makes them a good teacher! That does make sense, I promise.


  6. Lara, I have been reading through your archives (I'm a masterful time waster, too) and this post is TOTALLY how I feel!! I have a handful of voice students and I know in my head that I am qualified to teach them, but I'll be darned if I don't feel like I am making stuff up as we go along. I think that (like you) I had to come to grips with the fact that not everyone is going to be a marvelous singer -- either due to limits of their voice or a lack of desire and practice. I am waiting for the day when I feel like I know what I am doing and I am worth the money they are paying me...