Against Certification

The teachers’ organization is against certifying people. Why? Why should they care?

In point of fact, if any one individual decides that their training, and theirs alone, qualifies a teacher to work with individual voices as an expert, or says that their method precludes any other method, or that their trainees are restricted in what they can and cannot do with their training, then, yes, certification is a thing to think about very carefully. The world does not need anyone producing even more unqualified teachers of singing. We already have a bumper crop.

On the other hand, if the national organization cannot establish any guidelines about what is or is not correct teaching practice, and will not issue any written parameters about what constitutes a qualified teacher of singing, it is inevitable that individuals will step up to the plate to fill this huge gaping void.

Can we have national certification? You bet.

Yes, some people won’t like it one bit to have to be tested on their skills and pass that test in order to prove they can actually teach singing. Yes, some people will be asked to learn things that, left to their own devices, they would just as soon not be bothered to study, and yes, some people might just fail because they don’t know what they are doing, but too bad. You either have standards or you don’t. You either know what you are doing before you take someone else’s voice in your hands or you don’t, and if you don’t, you should have to wait. There should be large mentorship programs (not once a year for 12 people, but all year long for hundreds of people. There should be established expectations regarding healthy singing in ALL styles and reasonable choices of repertoires, done in the appropriate and correct style, whatever that might be.

Someone has to call for it and someone has to stand up and say, do this! I’m standing up and I’m calling for it, now, here. It’s time.

At voice conferences, teachers of singing are regarded as equals to the Speech Language Pathologists, the medical doctors (laryngologists), and voice researchers in related disciplines, but the criteria for all those other professionals are stringent, codified, and have been around for a long time. As long as we have no established protocols or parameters, we have no standards and if we have no standards, then how are we really the equal of the other professions? Because we say so? What kind of criteria is that?

So while we are waiting for any nationally recognized organization to take action on this huge topic, I will continue to certify people to teach my method, Somatic Voicework™, and that will entitle them to say they have been presented with voice science, voice medicine, vocal function based on science and life experience, and real world knowledge of the demands of the vocal music marketplace in all styles. It does not make “magic teachers”, it sets all teachers on the path towards greater knowledge in many related areas and tells them to keep studying, growing, reaching out, meeting the needs of the students, their voices, and the music with integrity and compassion.

The certification is given around the organization of my materials in my format which is my intellectual property. I interfere with no one. I stop no one. I make no fancy claims of any kind for what my work will or will not do, and that’s not true of all the other people out there.

If you are one of the people who is against certification and you have not been to a certification course, I suggest you try one. They are not all the same.

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