A Little Knowledge Is A ……….

If you are savvy, you know the rest of that title is….a dangerous thing.

If you only know a little bit, is that better or worse than when you know nothing?

I heard recently that someone was asking on a forum about how to work with a singer recovering from polyp surgery. One response was something like, “it’s good they are not recovering from nodules.”  Really?

At the level of the vocal folds, a bump is a bump. One of New York’s most famous ENTs has been heard to say, we should call them all podules and nolyps. Until you get it out and look at the histology (cell composition) you really don’t always know what you have. Retraining the voice that has had compromised vocal fold response is retraining the voice that has had compromised vocal fold response.

First of all, why is someone who has no idea what they are doing working with someone recovering from phonosurgery? Because the likelihood is that the teacher doesn’t know that it’s not a good idea. Secondly, there may be no one else to help the singer go back to singing, and someone is better than no one (maybe). Third, maybe both the teacher and the vocalist were not discouraged from proceeding by the voice surgeon. Who knows?

There should be criteria here about what is correct and a place to turn to for training to address these issues. At least the teacher was reaching out for help. Where is the guidance for the profession over all? Beats me. We can’t all go be Speech Language Pathologists first. There has to be a better way to learn what you need to know.

There is no good reason why, in 2013, we do not have an over-arching organization to set up objective criteria for teachers of singing and special teachers who work with injured voices. Until there is such an organization, senior teachers with experience and training are left to informally mentor new teachers to help them learn what they need to know. Teachers of singing who are afraid of such objective criteria should go hide. It’s long past time.

I certify the people who take my Somatic Voicework™ training as having completed the course to a satisfactory level. This does not make them experts if that is all they have done as teachers. Even Level III graduates are discouraged from doing “rehab” type work until they do extensive training elsewhere.

It’s important that serious, professional teachers of singing have a baseline of what is to be expected of teachers of singing. It has been resisted for two hundred years, but now is the time for that resistance to stop. Now.

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