Of all of the insecurities that Regina has admitted to in these podcasts, one thing she is absolutely sure of is that she is an excellent teacher. And what that really means is that she knows her self-worth. And because she is confident in her self-worth, she has been able to capitalize on it to the fullest.
The Story – 0:24
So if you have been listening to this podcast, you know that I have several insecurities. Here I am admitting that I am an extremely flawed human being!
But the one thing that I am not at all insecure about is my teaching ability. I am an excellent teacher.
I very unexpectedly started teaching voice the summer after I graduated from high school. And my studio grew each summer when I came home from college. I was even teaching voice while I was in college, and by the time I graduated with my degree I had a studio that fluctuated between 20 and 25 students which then eventually grew to about 30 students.
And soon after I left college, I became the most in demand voice teacher in my area. I had a thriving studio, I was called to do masterclasses and workshops on singing in local schools, I taught at a community music school and I was even recruited to apply for a teaching position at one of the local universities even though at that time I only had a Bachelors degree and a Performance Certificate. I maintained a thriving private studio in Buffalo, NY for over 12 years. And then I moved to Connecticut and was an adjunct professor at a University. Eventually I made the decision to go back to school to get my doctorate and before I was finished with my degree I got my first tenure track position in a University. I was there for two years and then was hired to run the opera program at a different university where I stayed for four years. I was working my way up in academia but ultimately decided to leave to move back to NY, pursue my singing again and teach privately.
Certainly it goes without saying that the more I taught, the better I got at it. But I never had a pedagogy class to teach me how to teach.
What I did always possess was a great ear. I could hear in the voices of my students, even as a young teacher, what they needed. I could hear when the voice was not placed properly, or when there was a lack of support or when there was tension somewhere.
They say that the best way to learn is to teach and I am the living proof of that. I learned more about my singing by teaching young singers than I ever did from my first voice teachers.
And now I am a better teacher than I have ever been. I mean, I would hope so, next month I will have been teaching voice for 30 years! I better know what I am doing by now! I’m also a better singer than I ever was and that certainly informs my teaching. And when I am taking lessons myself, I am an even better teacher.
What makes me a good teacher?
Well, as I mentioned before, I have a really great ear and can easily diagnose what my students need.
I am an excellent communicator and can come up with several different ways to explain concepts so if the student doesn’t understand what I want the first time, I can find a different way to reach them.
I understand the voice and how it works under pressure because of my performing career.
I create a warm and safe environment for my students to grow in, where they can be their most vulnerable without harshness and judgement.
I’ve got a fun personality (most of the time) that allows my students to have fun in the process of learning.
Where did I gain this attributes and skills?
Well, I have to say that a lot of it came naturally. And much of it came through experience of just doing it and seeing what works and what doesn’t. But the role of teacher was a role I slipped into very naturally without much thought or preparation. And even when I wasn’t good (like those first several years when I was teaching singers who I went to school with), I still had something to say that made some kind of difference.
You see, I didn’t choose teaching. Teaching chose me. I chose opera. But opera lasted for a moment and teaching will most likely last a lifetime.
So I guess it’s a good thing I’m good at it, right?!
Maybe some of you are listening to this and saying to yourself, “geez, BRAG much?” And certainly you have the right to think that, but I am telling you, I know my worth, I know my talent and I know that I am an excellent teacher.
Do I know everything there is to know about teaching and the voice and the art of singing? Absolutely not. But I am a life-long learner and I am always looking for ways and opportunities to expand my knowledge.
Am I the best teacher for everyone? No. I have had a handful of students leave me over the years for another teacher because I could not help them with specific issues or they needed a different experience.
The Thing I Know For Sure – 19:04
Know your worth and don’t ever stop working toward getting what you deserve.
At this point it may be hard for you to believe, but I actually don’t go around exclaiming my superior teaching ability to the world! I hardly ever tell people that I am an excellent teacher and I certainly NEVER tell anyone that I deserve to be known.
People who feel the need to shout from the rooftops how excellent they are usually are the people who actually don’t have the skills and talent to back it up. They are the people that have to talk a big game to cover up the insecurities they have about their own situation or abilities – to give the illusion that they are more successful than they actually are.
When I am confronted with these people, I usually don’t engage and I certainly don’t try to one-up them to show them that I am better than they are. I let them talk and then try as hard as I can to change the subject!
The fact of the matter is that I am secure in the fact that I am a good teacher. I don’t need to tell anyone. My work speaks for itself, in my students.
And now you may be thinking, “Then why the hell did you just spend 10 minutes self-aggrandizing?”
Good question! I did it to make a point. As I said earlier, if you have been listening to these podcasts, you know that I have lots of insecurities – about my ability to follow through with things, about my weight, about singing, about my age – but the one thing I am not insecure about is my teaching ability. And the lesson here is that it is vitally important that you recognize your strengths, nurture them and use them to achieve your goals.
The question is what has my awareness of my self-worth done for me?
Well, it has inspired me to strive to be a better teacher. I went back to school to get my doctorate so that I could teach at the highest academic level. I continue to take voice lessons and attend professional development workshops for voice teachers to get new ideas on how to better serve my students.
It has improved my financial situation because I charge for my lessons what I am worth and I don’t apologize for it. I have also changed my payment policies so that I get paid by semester rather than week by week and I don’t apologize for it. I now have financial security for the first time in my 30 year private teaching career.
It has given me the confidence and power to be selective in who I accept in my studio and not settle for accepting anyone into my studio just for the money.
It has afforded me the opportunity to give back to the artistic community by supporting arts organizations in meaningful ways, like being elected President of the Board of Directors because they recognize that I have something to offer them in experience, knowledge and authority in the art form.
It also gives me the confidence and comfort in knowing that what I am doing is making a difference.
Being honest with yourself is of the utmost importance. I am just as honest about my insecurities as I am about my strengths. And even though I still think that I deserve more recognition for my strengths, that doesn’t mean it will never happen. It means that I have to keep working, keep growing and keep putting myself out there. It means that I can never settle for less that I deserve. It means that I need to continue share my talents and knowledge with those who want it.
And finally it means that I don’t apologize for knowing my worth because my worth is one of the greatest contributions I can give to the world.
Inspiration – 24:59
I got inspired by several quotes by Australian golf champion and entrepreneur Greg Norman. I found one great quote from him but then found a page with several of his quotes and they were all great and applicable! So here are some of my favorites:
“Know your strengths and take advantage of them.”
“If you are serious about improving your play, be brutally honest with yourself.”
“You only get out of it what you put into it. If you are a sheep in this world, you’re not going to get much out of it.”
“I am a winner. I just didn’t win today.”
That is a man who knows his self-worth!