A Reminder That We Make a Difference

TeacherQuote5GoEdOnlineSometimes a client will repeat something I said to them months ago. Or they will tell me that they were teaching a friend something I taught them about breathing.

It always surprises me. I forget that people are actually listening to me. More than that, they are relying on me to give them effective tools (for singing and life, I hope). It’s a constant reminder that what we say and don’t say is of such huge importance.

There are so many gifts that teaching gives, and as we all know, we the teachers are the ones who often learn the most.

I’m reminded of this when I go to my own singing lessons (or tennis lessons…it’s all related); inevitably, the things I focus on in my clients are the very things that need the most attention in me. It’s humbling as I return to my own teaching studio seeing how far I myself have to go as an artist.

And rather than hide my own frustrations and difficulties (I am the one who is supposed to know everything, right?), I find that when I share that part of the journey with my clients, they embrace their own frustration and overwhelm, and they break through.

The impact that we have as teachers has really been coming home to me lately. I teach a musical theatre workshop for professionals and aspiring pros. About a year and a half ago, we got around the dry erase board and talked about what we could do in the face of decreasing theatre opportunities in Los Angeles (ones that paid, anyway). Cut to this summer, and two production companies have grown from the seeds we planted in that class. They are producing two fully-staged musicals this month and next.

Workshop members have become a community, supported each other, and started creating their own work. They are choosing themselves as artists rather than waiting for a casting director and working out their growing skills in their own productions.

To think that a month at the marker board encouraging people to reach small goals has grown into a fledgling community of artists creating quality work is so exciting. It also transforms all expectations I had for what my teaching studio would be. I see it’s so much bigger than me. And I want to encourage you to open up to your own dreams as a teacher and artist.

Our studios and students are communities that have so much potential. We not only make an impact on our individual students, but that influence has a clear ripple effect into our own studio culture and beyond. Whether we’re staging productions or singing at hospitals, it’s incredible what can be done with just a few simple phone calls, emails, and suggestions.

This post is about encouraging us, reminding us that what we do makes an impact. As teachers we enter a relationship with our students that goes deeper than teaching solid musicianship and technique. And thank goodness it does. This is part of what makes life so wonderful. And it’s always a surprise.

As you teach this week, I hope you’ll have a keener awareness of this and an open heart to see what could come from the sphere of influence you’ve been given.

Happy teaching!

About the Author

Dan Callaway
Dan is a voice teacher in Los Angeles who works mainly with professional and aspiring musical theatre performers.

He is also a consistently working singer and actor performing in Los Angeles, New York, and across the country.

Recent credits include Musical Theatre West's production of SPAMALOT, 1776 with Cabrillo Musical Theatre, I LEFT MY HEART: A SALUTE TO THE MUSIC OF TONY BENNETT at ... [Read more]


  1. Melrose Speech Therapy

    This is a very important aspect for teachers to learn. Not only are we teachers, but we are part psychiatrist as well. Sometimes we are the only time that students get to talk openly about what’s going on in their lives. I know for a lot of teen students, it is vital to feel like they have a place to go to where they will not judge. They get enough of that in high school.

  2. Nathan Sw.

    Good post. I am currently a music education major, however, every time I do get the chance to lead a group of musicians or give a private lesson to someone I know, I am beginning to see how people are taking what I say to them differently than before.