In the book, The Inner Game of Music, the authors define the Performance Equation as:
P = p – i
Performance = potential – interference
In order for my students to achieve their maximum performance, I must be knowledgeable in my subject to assess their potential and help them to recognize their potential. I must also be a skillful pedagogue to clearly communicate my ideas to provide them with the tools to remove what interferes with that potential. I must also challenge them, to push them even, to accept nothing less than their maximum performance. I must also be a role model, in my profession and in my life, as I also strive to reach my maximum performance. I must teach and lead by example.
Each student is unique, therefore each voice is unique. Students come to my studio with varying musical and life experiences and with varying degrees of ability and talent. It is my task to understand where the student has been, where he or she is now, and make a decision as to where he or she should go next. I must also learn how the student receives information so that I may connect with that student. My method of teaching is to enable the student, through guided vocal exercises and self-examination, and self-discovery, to analyze and understand her own instrument, her own technique. Because the vocal instrument is a part of the body, not a self-contained entity, I must teach the whole person – the intellectual, the spiritual, the emotional side of each person. It is through reaching the whole person that I can begin to help the student remove those barriers of interference so that the he can achieve maximum performance. I must be a pedagogue, a mentor, a psychologist, a vocal parent, even benevolent dictator.
In the voice studio I strive to establish a sense of trust with each student. I am open and honest with students about my expectations, my requirements, my own experiences as they apply. I remain firm in my expectations. The students soon realize that I do have their best interest in mind, that I only ask of them what I know they are capable of giving, and that I accept nothing less than their very best, their maximum performance at each level. I encourage them, challenge them, question them, even provoke them to reach their short term and long term goals. I provide them with sound vocal pedagogy to meet each goal. I rejoice with them when they reach those goals, and quickly help them to establish new ones. Growth can only be achieved after struggle and frustration.
To grow, to reach one’s maximum performance, to remove those things which interfere with our potential, one must take risks. I often quote opera legend Beverly Sills, “You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you never try.” Whether in singing or beyond the field of music, I don’t want my students to allow the fear of failure to prevent them taking those risks. For as in music and as in life, the risks are great, but the rewards are many. “If you're not making mistakes, you're not taking risks, and that means you're not going anywhere. The key is to make mistakes faster than the competition, so you have more changes to learn and win.”
iBarry Green with W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Music, (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1986), 12.
iiJohn W. Holt, Jr.