Another One

Seeing what I wrote on my previous post, I would like to contradict myself, because today I saw yet another young person is who living the same 45 year old model that I experienced. What kind of profession makes no changes in 45 years??????????

Teaching singing.

Those who read this blog regularly already know this story, as I have told it here numerous times. I started studying classical music at 15 because I wanted to sing like Connie Francis (if you are young, Google Connie or go to Amazon and listen to her). I sang “Caro Mio Ben” and “My Lovely Celia” not “Who’s Sorry Now?” during my lessons.

By the time I was 19 I had taught myself to belt, although I did not know that. I didn’t know what to call the sound I made when I was singing “Ella” in “Bells Are Ringing” but I knew it was not like the one I sang as “Marian” in “The Music Man” or as “Magnolia” in “Show Boat”, both of which I had sung at age 17 and 18 respectively. No one ever said to me this music should sound like this and the other should sound like that, I just used my own ears, my own common sense and sang what I heard. It did then and does still now amaze me that people who sing classically assume that you can sing any kind of song in any kind of style as if it were classical because that is all they are capable of doing. Are they deaf or just dumb (no pun intended)?

When a young person says, “I want to sing music theater. I want to sing 21st century music theater. I want to sing 21st century music theater the way it is sung on Broadway.” and is told no by her teachers, department, school or university, what is she to do? When the student is asked to be the teacher by first singing and then telling the teacher how it sounds and feels to do that, something is WRONG.

When a school decides to institute a music theater program and tells the teachers who are classically trained “as of next semester you are going to teach music theater” and provides them with NO training, and understands that they also have no experience in music theater, yet doesn’t care, something is wrong. The school is making money, of course, and the students are getting what they want, sort of, but how could something like this happen in any other field?

Could the biology teachers be told, “you must now teach chemistry”? Could the history teachers be told “you must now teach physics?” Could the piano teachers be told “You must now teach percussion?” But are the singing teachers told “you must now teach music theater”? All the time, every day, and guess who suffers most from such decisions? Not the person who makes the decision.

Youngsters are still wanting to learn how to sing the music from “Hairspray”, “Legally Blond”, “Xanadu” and “Little Shop of Horrors” (not a new show) but are being told instead to sing music from shows written prior to 1968 (the year “Hair” arrived on Broadway the first time). Even Jason Robert Brown and Ricky Ian Gordon require some belty sounds, although they are the most “classical” of today’s composers (along with Adam Guettel) cast in the Stephen Sondheim mode. Some are being told to sing “Caro Mio Ben” and “My Lovely Celia” because if they do not, they will ruin their voices. This is 2009.5. Do you think things will be different in 2010? 2011? 2012? I hope I don’t die before this ridiculous situation just goes away and stays away for all time!!

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