After making a huge commitment to write more, what did I do? I dropped the ball for several months. Now, I have a couple semi-valid excuses, but that doesn't really make anything better, does it? See, I had made a commitment to write more, and I failed to honor it. This brings me to my topic for today.
I've been a professional singer for 27 years, so I am well-aware of why professionalism is important and why honoring your commitments is a big deal. In the competitive field of music and performing arts, there's a limit to how many jobs are available, and the competition is fierce. It's a tough world out there, and everyone wants to be that special snowflake. In fact, there's a LOT of legitimately talented, special people out there who are itching to do big things and make a name for themselves. But, if you cannot take some measure of responsibility for yourself, then all the work is for nothing. Yes, I'm talking about making excuses, being flaky, etc. It's one thing to have over-scheduled, gotten stuck in traffic, or get sick. It's quite another thing to just "forget" you had an appointment, or consistently have some drama in your life that prevents you from showing up on time.
My pet peeve is lateness. I HATE being late to things, I hate it when others are late. I'm the jerk who gets to the airport super-ridiculously early because the thought of not having enough cushion time to get through security and decompress before boarding just kind of irritates me. I even make sure I get to my teaching studio a half-hour early, JUST IN CASE I need to be prepared for something. If you're a student and you're running late? Well, you'd better be texting me and giving me a heads-up that you're on your way, that the train was late, or that your watch was set too slow. 5 minutes late leaves my foot tapping, but no harm done. Ten to fifteen minutes late? We're going to have a problem.
Like many teachers in NYC, I rent my studio space. I pay for that space by the hour. If a student is committed to me for a specific time, I want that person to get his or her money's worth! I am giving very valuable information, and I want my student to have the full time allotted to work that info and begin to process it. When a student is late, it throws the whole timeline out of balance, and sometimes can ruin the lesson because I run out of time! Information may not be given correctly, or we might not address a topic that is pressing because we don't have the time to finish! Most of my students are really excellent when it comes to time-management. I've been lucky. I rarely have to prod them when it comes to showing up at the scheduled time. Every once in a while, someone will slip up. It happens. The goal is to make sure this doesn't happen consistently. My students are, for the most part, very responsible individuals. When one of them "forgot" about a lesson we'd scheduled, It made me concerned about her well-being because this forgetfulness was very out-of-character. Fortunately, after a good talk, communications have improved. That's the thing. COMMUNICATION. It's a responsibility I have shirked over the last few months on this very blog!
There's this trend amongst millennials called ghosting. Essentially, it's when you cease all communication with a person and don't bother to announce that you're going to do so. You just cut them off without a second thought. Let me go on the record by saying that IT IS NOT OK TO DO THIS TO YOUR VOICE TEACHER! It's happened to me a few times, and it really steams me because of how unprofessional, rude, and confusing it can be. It's especially confusing when you have a student that you're bonding with, having fantastic lessons, and making lots of progress. I try to express to my students that my studio is a judgement-free zone. I'm not going to take you to task if you need to quit. If it's financial trouble, family problems, mental health, or even just a lack of good chemistry between us, I will NEVER get angry at my student. However, I believe that it's important for the student to let me know - at bare minimum - that they don't want to study with me or that they can't continue at this time. I try to keep certain time slots available for people. There's something truly wonderful about when a long-term student has his or her own "time." It's a very secure thing. Also, it makes my life easier because of the consistency. When a consistent student all of a sudden "ghosts" me? Then I get angry. You always need to exit with courtesy. It makes you look better as an artist and performer. To just ignore a person is disrespectful.
I have dropped the ball. I need to be more consistent. Honor the commitment I made to reach out and post more on this blog. I apologize for that. See? It's that easy. We all want to blame others for our situation when things go wrong. It's VERY easy to make a lame excuse, or cut someone off altogether. It's much harder to admit that you have done wrong, own it, and work to make sure you improve. No one is perfect! Nor do I expect any of my students to be. What I DO expect is a level of professionalism. That means being punctual, respectful of the time we have together, and communicating to me when there's an issue so we can find the right fix. Take responsibility. Own your mistakes! Work hard to keep from repeating them! Doing these things will carry you a lot farther than a lame excuse.