On Singing

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I just read a very interesting article on the lies of singing.   Well, I suppose on the lies told by teachers to students is what the article was honestly about.   It was good in that he gave some great tips as well as made me consider the universities and their schools of music.

 However, I was greatly disappointed!  Disappointed because the author is a teacher….not to mention one of the top christian artist coaches in Nashville.  Disappointed more because the overlying theme of the article seemed very ignorant.  Perhaps I just went to a really excellent school. Perhaps my teachers were just all that top notch in their attitudes.  It could be. 

It could be that I avoided the haughty, nose-up teaching that was referred to in his article.   I think the important thing to remember when you attend a school of music pursuing a degree in vocal peformance is: WHY ARE YOU GETTING THAT DEGREE? 

Yeah, when you are 17 or 18 and deciding upon the foundations of your life, including your career, that decision is hard.  For any degree, actually.  Opinions, facts, and lifestyles are forced upon you from every direction.  Not just from teachers….peers and parents pay tribute as well.  But back to my subject:  if you decide to attain a degree in vocal performance, it highly advisable to have a goal in mind for it.  Do you want to perform anywhere you can make a buck?  Do you want a career in Broadway?  Do you want headline in a jazz club?  Do you want to go on for your Masters or even Doctorate and teach in universities?  The options are wide…but if you are not sure why you want to learn to perform or WHAT you want to learn to perform, then more than likely you be molded and stuffed into a box that your surroundings create. 

Is that a bit extreme?  Maybe.   Perhaps that was the point that Brett was trying to make in his article.   However, instead of placing any responsibility on the student, it was all shoved onto the teacher.  My VA voice teacher Andrea Thornock always said “a teacher is only as good as her student.”  Why?  Because if the student does not know what he or she wants to learn or why, then the teacher has a hard time knowing how to direct the student fully.   That’s when the teachers start to harp on the foundational basics.  That’s when the teacher starts to attempt to guide in the direction where he/she sees her student heading.  That’s when the teacher could end up getting a bad rap.

If you are reading and wonder whether I have any credientials to make these statements, I do.   I was the vocal performance student who wasn’t sure which direction to go.  I was the student who got frustrated with her first teachers b/c I didn’t understand what they were trying to do.  I was the student who finally realized that the teachers were doing their best to open vocal doors for me, but I failed to make any steps in any direction. 

That’s when I became the “molded, classical vocal performance graduate.”  I felt like the only path I could follow was the opera world.  Not because that was the only world I had been taught.  B/c it was the only world I was very familiar with since I never really opened up to my teachers about my heart.

Then came the day I decided what world I wanted to follow.  Got a new teacher.  Had a plan.   And then my teacher knew EXACTLY how to guide me.  

She is an opera singer.  She is a jazz singer.  But she taught me how to move between registers.  Which is exactly what Brett teaches.  In almost the identical manner he phrased in his article.  So, voice students out there, do not be discouraged if you are being taught pop by a “classical musician.”  The foundations are still the same.  The concepts are still in line.  Just be honest with your teacher with the direction you hope to go.  And if you don’t which direction, tell your teacher.  He/she will probably be happy to work with you in several areas of your interest.  If not, then you may want to consider finding a new teacher. 

 Okay, enough of my tangent.  Musicians, sing on!

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