I know of quite a few people who have taken a course, a workshop, a class, a seminar or attended a conference. They get some “new exercises” and hear a few “lectures” or “demonstrations” and then go home, assured that what they were doing all along was great.
I once taught a workshop in London at which I discussed at length and demonstrated with students the differences between chest, mix and head, both technically and in a song. Afterwards, a very famous London teacher who is mostly a coach and works very little with technique, came up to say to me “Oh, Jeanie, I loved your lecture. I do exactly the same thing. All my students sing in that ‘chesty, mixy, heady thing’ you showed.” My response was to stand there and stammer some dumb response. I didn’t know what to say. She made what I said into something that was the opposite of what I said. I have had that happen over and over again. I have. I find this frightening.
There are scientific tests that prove that people will turn anything they hear into a justification for what they already believe rather than change their minds and “be wrong”.
Currently, there are all sorts of mom and pops in middle America fighting hard against anything “green” because they have been told that this is a United Nations conspiracy to curtail their rights and prevent them from “developing” their property. These are good decent people who are being LIED TO and motivated to do things that are against their own long-term health and well-being, and that of their children and grandchildren, but they are easily manipulated by people who are truly dangerous. Nevertheless, no one is forcing them to accept these stupid ideas, they do it willingly. Why? You would have to ask them, but my guess is because the have the idea that “those liberals” are ruining everything. That has been around for about 75 years now. Scares me to death.
The “liberals” of voice training have always been around, too. They have been doing their best to make people understand singing in a grounded, real way, offering information based on what has been known about vocal production and behavior all the way back to the work of Garcia and his hand held mirror that allowed him to see the vocal folds for the first time. Do people actually make use of the information being offered? Sadly, many do not and of those who say they do, many do not really understand how little they have understood what they have encountered because they never bother to find out.
So, if you are one of those people who has taken a course, a workshop, a seminar, or read 5 articles or gone to 5 conferences and the rest of the time you stay home and do what you’ve always done, you are not helping anyone. Not yourself, surely not your students and not the profession. If you assume that you are “right” because you are or because you believe you are doing what you were taught, you could be very dangerous as a teacher of singing.
YOU HAVE AN OBLIGATION to see if the information you heard was taken in correctly. You have an obligation to see if how you are using what you gathered at the course is being used the way it was intended to be used. You have an obligation to test your new theories and see if what you think you know and what you actually know match up. You have an obligation to teach in front of someone who is more experienced than you and ask if what you are doing MAKES SENSE. You have an obligation to check in with whomsoever you have watched, read, or studied with to see if what you are doing is what they would like you to do. Seriously, people, you can’t just assume that what you are doing is OK. You CANNOT.
Stay in touch with the people who teach, the people who do research, the people who have been successful in other professions as reliable colleagues, the people who have been published and whose work has achieved broad acceptability in the world.
A little information is a bad and even dangerous thing.