The Joy of Teaching

The 2018 Full Voice Coach Training cohort – L to R: Barbara, Tom McSteen (apprentice teacher), Lia Falls, Katharine Grant, Katy Taylor, Ingrid Mattsson, Laura Nelson, Glenda Huston

I always have high hopes for my clients and students. With good reason.

For decades now, I have witnessed individual voice coaching clients stepping beyond what they believed was possible for them.

  • Timid speakers find their courage to speak out in an authentic way.
  • People who were told they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket discover that they sing just fine.
  • Highly trained musicians rediscover the joy of playing with their voices in new ways.
  • Leaders use their voices to communicate more flexibly and effectively with their colleagues.

Experience has taught me that people often make unplanned discoveries through working with their voices, but I am frequently and deliciously surprised by precisely how that unfolds.

In the several weeks, I have been doing one-on-one sessions with several people enrolled in my Full Voice Coach Training program. We are nearing the end of our nine-month intensive journey together. This is the time in the training where students begin teaching real people one-on-one and in groups. They are putting all they’ve learned to the test.

Their growth, passion and confidence are far exceeding even my highest expectations.

One woman who began the course clearly stating that she doubted she would ever teach this work in the world came into my studio today giddy from teaching her first Full Voice workshop to a group of 28 people. She told story after story about her experience and mentioned that she will be scheduling another workshop soon.

Another student who confessed to paralyzing fear about doing individual coaching has been finding the work more fascinating than frightening.

Each of the students have opened new territories in their voices as well. One highly trained singer used to get immediately hoarse from making low sounds. Now she can demonstrate those “earth” sounds easily and without negative effects.

Other pupils struggled with making strong “fire” sounds without coughing or getting tight. The way we discovered to shift that pattern was – delightfully – laughter. Making big, loud laughing sounds directly connected that strong, chesty sound to the diaphragm. Voila! No more tight throats and sore voices.

When I set out to teach a Full Voice Coach Training course five years ago, I had no idea if it would work. Would I be able to transmit the work to others in a coherent way? Would students be able to bring their own wisdom, skills and experience to the work? Would the intensive experience have a positive impact on each individual’s vocal expression? Would people in the program bond with each other through their nine months together?

The answer to each of these questions is– happily – a resounding yes.

After this current group completes the course, there will be seventeen certified full voice coaches out in the world.  Most of us will be gathering for an all-class reunion next summer where we’ll deepen our learning, share stories, sing a lotand no doubt fall even more cuckoo in love with each other and the work.

As I call in the next cohort of students for next year, I will do so with great joy and anticipation of all the unexpected blessings we will discover together.

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About Barbara McAfee

Barbara is a voice coach, singer/songwriter, keynote speaker, and author who merges lessons from 12 years in organization development with the transformational power of sound. Her book, Full Voice: The Art & Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) was a #1 Amazon bestseller in Business Communication. The book is based on her 25 years as a voice coach, supporting people from many professions in learning how to access the full power and expression of the voice in service to their work and relationships. Barbara’s musical keynotes blend practical content, sophisticated humor, and thought-provoking questions on topics including voice, leadership, and engagement. She was “the band” for Margaret Wheatley’s Women’s Leadership Revival Tour, which visited 15 North American cities. She also appears with authors Parker Palmer and Peter Block. Barbara has produced seven CD's of mostly original music and is founder of the Morning Star Singers, a volunteer hospice choir in the Twin Cities. She lives across the street from the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
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