Confident People Talkin’ About Confidence, Part Three

I asked confident people, and especially people who have recently advised me to be more confident, to tell me what the heck confidence is and how to develop it. Check out Part One and Part Two!

ceri-gerrish-fogarty-dma_-soprano-head-shot-may-2016-2-e1469071411632-350x410In this edition, we hear from Ceri Gerrish, my most recent voice teacher at Cardon Studios. (I just started finance-induced hiatus from voice lessons but hope to return soon and wholeheartedly endorse Cardon and all of the instructors I’ve encountered so far.)

Ceri has a Doctorate in Vocal Performance and can talk at length about the anatomical, physical, aural, and emotional components of a song or phrase. She has challenged me to do things that make me profoundly self-conscious in the name of making me a a better, more confident and successful singer. I asked her about developing confidence as a performer and teaching the intangible notion of it in her lessons. Please enjoy!

How do you show your own confidence (in general, in teaching, or in performing)?

For me, it was my education that gave me my confidence within my craft. Once I read a tremendous amount of research in my field and understood my art on this deeper, academic level, I began to have my own strong –but vetted– opinions. Putting these opinions into practice was then just a matter or finding students to work with. Seeing how well my hard-learned practical knowledge worked in real-time with real students gave me a huge confidence boost.

I remain confident in my work by always allowing myself to make mistakes and reminding myself that I do not know everything. I do not fear failure or the unknown which allows me the opportunity to learn through my failures and continue to evolve in the areas I’m less confident about. Also, failing gives me perspective for when my students come across the same or similar pitfalls that I’ve found myself in. My experiences help me anticipate various issues so I can help my students avoid them.

Perhaps more importantly, my negative experiences make me a better coach when things aren’t going well for my students. Above all, seeing my students thrive and/or overcome obstacles shows how confident I am in my teaching.

How do you help your students develop their confidence, and how do you know when you’re succeeding?

First an foremost, mistakes are the golden ticket to success. If you don’t fail, then you haven’t lived. Everyone fails… everyone. The important part of failure is how you manage the aftermath. It is in this crisis management mode that students test their limits and learn who they are –which directly impacts their confidence.

It is my job to create a safe and positive learning environment so that students will take the risks that will boost them up to their next ability level. I strive to be a beacon of kindness and support, while also setting standards for them to grow. When a student fails it is my job to congratulate them on trying. I don’t let them dwell on their failure, instead I challenge them to persevere without fear. I know when I’ve succeeded if a student takes challenges in stride and lets go of their inhibitions to take risks and to fearlessly move forward in their training.

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