In a performer’s lifetime, she will work with many teachers and directors. Some of us will be fortunate enough to have had excellent early training and step out into the real world with confidence as well as talent. But many young students in the performing arts may be studying with a school or coach who may not be capable of making a student competitive in their chosen profession.
The talented ones who drift into their studio is a Godsend that the teacher will recognize immediately. Soon that student is given special status with solos, lots of leading roles, compliments and other students looking up to her for inspiration. In that cocoon of security, it is easy for the talented student to be convinced he or she is indeed a star in the making. Wanting to spread her wings and let the rest of the world know what she has to offer, she auditions for a production or another teacher. Or his family moves to a new city and he has to start over with a new teacher in a new studio.
Finding themselves outside their comfort zone and perhaps working with someone demanding a higher level of excellence and expertise is a shock. Recently, a new student with amazing talent, passion and smarts but no real developed skills arrived at my studio. I could see the limitless potential and immediately began addressing the lack of skills . But when we first discover how much we don’t know about something we are passionate about it can bring on a ton of anxiety about ourselves. And that is what happened to this new student who came through my door.
This student returned to her previous teacher after working with my other students and in private lessons with me because she was overwhelmed with self doubt. Young children find it especially hard to start all over in a new school or with a new relationship. My mistake was perhaps not giving her enough encouragement as she made the transition. But she made the right decision for herself because she was not yet ready to be challenged. We all develop at different rates. I love my students dearly but I do not lie to them about their abilities. I do tell them when I am proud of them and I’m their most avid cheerleader even when they fall short of their goals.
Performers are some of the most sensitive souls you will ever meet. Even the extroverted ones stress out over their perceived flaws and shortcomings. When you see a “drama queen” moment or excessive self absorbed behavior, it is actually coming from a sincere but huge amount of hurt feelings, self doubt and worry.
The entertainment industry acknowledges that reality but the unspoken directive is “Get over it. If you want to work, you gotta have the skills and talent to do the job.