At the beginning of every fall semester I see returning students come into class with renewed energy and enthusiastic stories of a master class or performing arts class they attended over the summer. And this includes the music theatre boot camp I direct and produce each June.
Many times, a celebrity will be a featured attraction during these workshops and will be coaching these eager fans. When I ask my students what they learned over the summer, many of their replies sound like, “I got to sing for (fill in the blank)!” I continue to ask, “So what was the feedback on your performance?” My student reports, “He said I did great and I got a selfie with him! Want to see it?” But I ask again, “What did you learn?” No reply!
A successful performer and known “celebrity” can also be a wonderful teacher but it takes a different mindset and awareness of the two different skills. Many times a “star” is only equipped to show and tell what they do but not the how of it. The performer’s job is concentrated on themselves because they have to create the artistic choices for an awesome performance.
A teacher’s focus is totally on the student! Many times a performer does not succeed on the world’s stage but becomes a stellar teacher because of an ability to connect and communicate the “how” of it all. The greatest stars in the business often cannot even begin to articulate what they do to get results and thus make disappointing mentors and cheerleaders.
In my work in the studio I have always strive to bring in teachers and directors who “connect” but also have incredible talent as an artist. And we are extremely proud of the numerous success stories our alum now share! They are happily working in film, live theatre and the music industry!
Next summer when evaluating your next camp or workshop, keep these thoughts in mind so you always come home richer for the experience!