December 1, 2014

Cognoscenti

Persons who have superior knowledge and understanding of a particular field, especially in the fine arts, literature, and world of fashion. 

I know quite a few voice teachers who project this persona to others, especially to colleagues and students. It's what the latter pay for actually, isn't it? And with good reason: Doesn't everyone want to study with someone who knows the ropes as well as how they are made? Of course (to continue the rope analogy), it's a good thing if the teacher has made ropes at some point, and has made them well; but this isn't always the case, especially as "coaches" are concerned. And this is where things get sticky. Anyone can "know" a great deal about the voice—stacks of facts as I like to say, but this knowledge isn't helpful to the student if it isn't grounded in functionality: that is, if the coach can't sing, if only because being able to sing is the principal means whereby information about singing—and singing itself—is really learned.  

"Learn to sing! Learn to sing! Learn to sing!" Pauline Viardot-García cried to an interviewer who asked what composers should do in order to restore the art of beautiful singing. But how many composers do you know who can sing? And what about the coach who has set him/herself up as a voice teacher? I can put both categories together and count the number who can on one hand—a sorry state of affairs.  

We'd think it really odd that someone could know all about the English language, it's history, grammar and literature, but not be able to speak English. Yet many who teach, write and pontificate about singing can't sing.

What's up with that? 

No comments:

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments.