The best teachers are driven by a passion not only for what they teach but who they teach. Many became teachers because a spark of passion from their teacher lit a fire of desire in them to teach. And the best teachers remain inspired by other teachers. When you’re looking for a vocal coach or teacher, you can get a feel for a potential fit by finding out what inspires them as teachers, as well as who has had the strongest influence in shaping their teaching skills.
Giuseppe Lopizzo – BMA Italy
Giuseppe Lopizzo of Brett Manning Vocal Method Italia admits to having always been fascinated by the teacher’s role. He appreciates the knowledge, experience, and passion of great teachers and their ability to transfer knowledge and inspire others.
“I always thought about them as kind of special people, gifted human beings who have committed their lives to understand, know more; get better and better, not for their own personal satisfaction; but in order to be happier and happier as they share what they discover with others. That is also my teaching philosophy.”
Inspired By Movie
Giuseppe cites the 1989 Peter Weir film, Dead Poets Society, as being one of the greatest inspirations for his teaching and learning. The film features Robin Williams as English professor, John Keating, who inspires his students at a conservative New England boys prep school to change their lives of conformity through his teaching of poetry and literature. Screenwriter Tom Schulman based the inspiring story on his life at Montgomery Bell Academy, an all-boys prep school in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Since the first time I saw that movie, I’ve always been looking to study with teachers like Professor Keating and then to become a teacher like him,” Giuseppe said. “He not only transferred knowledge to his students, but he also made his students discover who they were, what they wanted…His non-conventional methods, filled with passion, convinced me that the one key, magical recipe for teaching is to inspire people and to make them learn and grow.”
Christopher Keller – BMA New York
Christopher Keller, who has just made the move from Music City to the Big Apple, recalled two favorite teachers whose hands still serve to shape his heart for teaching as a Brett Manning Associate. For Chris, his approach to teaching has been firmly impacted by a college writing professor whose name escapes him and his third grade teacher, Mrs. Freeman.
“Mrs. Freeman gave me confidence and enforced my artistic abilities,” Chris said. “She made me feel needed, wanted, and smart to the class, as well as making all of the other children feel that way.”
He remembers after finding out that he needed glasses, Mrs. Freeman announced at the end of class that he would be wearing glasses the next day and everyone better like them. He was never teased about his glasses by his classmates because of his teacher that valued every student’s unique gifts.
“She would always take art from students and projects and show them off like they were important,” he said. “She would encourage the slackers to catch up to the other kids. And it got so everyone in the class was always working harder and well to be on a par with the other kids who were smarter or better in some way.”
Encourage Students To Get Better
What he appreciated about his college writing professor was his focus not so much on teaching but on encouraging students to get better.
“He called me after class once and said he wanted to talk about something on my paper,” Chris said. “I thought I screwed up, but my paper happened to be about my ambitions as a recording engineer, my goal at the time, and he just wanted to talk to me about it. He was super cool. He then introduced me to my favorite modern band, Radiohead. He said I might like them. Within the following year, I had every one of their albums and saw them live in St. Louis. To this day that has still been my favorite concert ever.”
You + Better = Best!
Chris found a common factor in both of these teachers: be yourself, get better at what you do, and strive to become the best you can be.
“A lot of teachers seem to want to see you learn the material rather than become your own person and learn things that relate to you that you can excel in,” Chris said. “So, teaching for me, and as a voice coach, I think is just that. You have to want someone to get better and enjoy singing, and let them become a better singer rather than just learn the material. It’s hard to remember that sometimes, as a coach, it’s easy to get caught up in hitting a note or singing a phrase in a certain tone. But, in reality, no artist does everything perfect. We as coaches certainly don’t!”
Transfer The Positives
Like Chris, Giuseppe feels that teachers naturally transfer some aspect of their life and personality to students in the teaching process. That can be good or bad depending on what the teacher is going through and how well they are able to set that aside and focus on their students.
“I had the chance to meet some teachers who were really passionate and found the way to give me both information and the means to think about things, without learning everything by heart, but through understanding,” Giuseppe said. “But I’ve also met teachers who were so frustrated because they wanted to do other things in their lives, but they ended up teaching. So they transfer all of their frustration and rage onto students. But I also must thank them because they showed me what I shouldn’t do.”
Stay Open To Learning
Both Chris and Giuseppe stress the importance of being open to learning more whether you’re a student or a vocal coach. They both feel that a variety of resources should be explored to heighten and enhance your knowledge and life experience. It can help you find material to sing and new artists to explore.
“Sometimes, reading something on the Internet can trigger something in your brain different than if you just read it in a book,” Chris said. “Watching something on the History Channel may be easier to remember thAn reading it in a magazine. It’s all how it’s presented. I’d recommend anyone to take voice from multiple people or resources. That way, it’s easier to become your own voice rather than just an imitation or sculpture of one particular person’s imagery.”
In fact, Chris occasionally works with a number of students that study with Deborah “Zuke” Smith of Brett Manning Vocal Method: East Coast, USA. Chris feels that by sharing, students gain little bits of information that can be learned and reinforced in different ways.
Brett Manning + The Method
For Giuseppe the most consistent positive influences on teaching have come from Brett Manning and his associates.
“At this point, a book wouldn’t be enough to explain the positive impact they have on me,” he said. “The first thing I would say had a great impact is their positive attitude. This represents a strength they have, and they transfer that onto their students. If you are positive, and think you have the power to achieve your goal, then you’ll make it. They inspire people to go beyond their limits. People come to the studio thinking they have a lot of limits, and go out singing like they always wanted to. I’m thankful to Brett and his associates, because they first gave strength and consistency to my voice and artistry; and then, they give me the exclusive pride to be one of them, teaching through all aspects of this wonderful methodology to help my students.”
The Light Keeps Shining
For Chris, Brett Manning’s teaching has been a light that keeps growing brighter over time and through the experience of teaching more students.
“I learned from Brett very specific techniques that can help me find the fun spots in anyone’s voice,” he said. “Seeing Brett get smiles out of people by doing what they couldn’t do before they entered the door is the most inspiring thing about watching him, and that has inspired me to do the same.”
Giuseppe echoes that inspired sentiment. He noted that there are times where the influence of a student starts to come through in his gestures and language while he’s teaching. So, a student’s passion for learning feeds his passion for teaching.
“Now, every time I see a smile on the face of a singer who manages to do something he wanted to during one of my sessions, I am the happiest man on earth, and I feel proud to be part of the greatest vocal team on the planet, the Brett Manning teachers team.”