April 16, 2018

World Voice Day

World Voice Day is now a real "thing," having been created by a Brazilian laryngology society before spreading to other latin American countries, then Northern America through leading voice scientists. 

The purpose of World Voice Day? From the Wikipedia article we find: 

A goal of World Voice Day is to encourage all those who use their voice for business or pleasure to learn to take care of their voice, and know how to seek help and training, and to support research on the voice.

Seek help and training? That rings a bell if only because I currently have a number of students who've had training. Really bad training. They've been yelled at and harassed by their teacher(s) and came to me all muddled despite having earned advanced degrees—as if earning a degree teaches one to sing. Ain't that a trip! Here in America, you can spend a lot of money for an advanced degree in vocal performance/pedagogy and come out on the other end a total mess with no real technique. And to top it all off you can be gaslighted—made to think that your lack of technique is all your fault. 

So, on this World Voice Day, I would like to encourage the reader to conduct due diligence. If you are searching for a voice teacher, are young and applying for schools, find out all you can about the institution and its faculty. If the teacher teaches privately you can contact their students and listen to their performances. Does this take a lot of work? Yes. Did I do it when I was starting out? No. I was as clueless as most young students are today. 

What makes one clueless? Assumptions like the one that puts stock in the letters behind someone's name. Doctor this and Doctor that. All these letters really tell you is that the person who has them jumped through a lot of hoops. That's all. Did the hoops teach that person to sing as well as enable them to teach others to sing? These questions can't be answered without some investigation. What should investigation reveal? The teacher's ability to embody the principles they teach as well as the ability to impart those principles.

And speaking of imparting principles of singing: It can take a good six months to unravel the knots that a student has been tied-up in as a result of bad training. Yeah. It takes that long if not longer. No one wants to hear that. But that's the deal. And that unraveling only happens if both the teacher and the student are patient enough to do the work. 

The teacher who gave me the most would often say that learning to sing is like going into a jungle and hacking away a clearing, then keeping the clearing open. This takes a hell of a lot of work—work that is hard to do in an institution which requires repertoire from the get-go. Yet, if it is done the right way, the student can be rewarded with the ability to sing for a very long time. And isn't that the point? 

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