Discouraged and Disgusted

Yet another 20 year old who started studying when she was 6, with an “opera” teacher, who taught her for 6 years, and then some other person, with whom she had 2 lessons, arrived this week and explained that she “sings everything”………except that she was awful and couldn’t really sing anything. There was no evidence of any kind of training and, in fact, just about everything this young woman did was wrong and sounded terrible. OK, maybe it was just her.

On the other hand……..

Last Saturday, I worked with a 12 year old who had had 4 years of lessons with two “opera singers” (a Russian and a Bulgarian) and was belting “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” (a popular song with the very young these days – go figure) and killing herself. Fortunately her mother recognized that something was wrong and she ended up with a good medical diagnosis before she got to me, and fortunately for me, I was able to address a good deal of what was wrong in just one lesson, so I thought that she at least had a chance to turn things around. She was so discouraged that she was going to stop singing. Apparently one of the techniques the teachers used was to tell her how she wasn’t very good and she wasn’t making progress like the other students. For this wonderful privilege of having her child beaten down while being vocally beaten up the mother paid $80 per hour. If you can change vocal behaviors in just one lesson, you know for sure, it’s not the kid.

I also heard this week that one of the graduates of my course where I specifically instruct and demonstrate over and over for days what belting is and provide IN WRITING a definition of belting (belting is chest register carried up above the tradition break at about F above middle C at a loud volume) is telling her college students that belting is head register carried down into the lower notes. This is from someone who does NOT belt, has never belted, and is never going to try belting……who, of course, is against it, but not because it has hurt her, or for any other reason that I can come up with, but because she she just KNOWS….IT IS BAAAAAD. Why take the word of someone who has been doing the sound for 40 years, has been teaching it for 36, has had more students than she could imagine learn to belt well and stay healthy, and who can still classically well enough to perform in public? Why not just make up her own theories because she KNOWS, and that’s enough. I surely hope she never ever says that she took my course or had any contact with me. PLEASE!!!!!

I recently worked with a professional vocalist who sings in a variety of styles, everything from “legit” to full belt, and we agreed upon just about every aspect of what was going on. She has had plenty of previous training and has a lot of experience, and what we discussed made sense to her. It does with most people who are doing this sound successfully in public performance, especially over time. She didn’t think I had made up my own ideas about what she was doing, only that I had organized an approach to learning, changing, adjusting and administering the sound for health and musical purposes. People who DO the sound don’t argue with me about what it is, as they know.

Some singing teachers are afraid to belt because they think it will ruin their beautiful classical production. How do they know? The fear prevents them from trying anything but what they already do. Based upon this wonderful rigidity, they think they understand belting. How is that remotely possible? They have the nerve to label it incorrectly, condemn it, teach it badly, fall to recognize it when it is done poorly, and believe that they don’t have to change anything about how they teach because what they do is more than good enough.

I have to go to bed now and recover. Tomorrow is another day.

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