Hiding In Plain Sight

F. M. Alexander developed a method of working with the body, through spinal alignment, that was once regarded as being “unorthodox” but over the years, because the approach helped so many people, that opinion changed. Now, Alexander Technique is taught, with great enthusiasm, at many colleges and conservatories in the USA and perhaps also abroad. Of course, if Mr. Alexander were still alive, that might not be the case.

Universities are loath to “endorse” a method developed by one individual, regardless of what that method may be or what it offers. I have been told many times, at various universities, that “we can’t endorse one person’s method” because that’s — fill in the blank…..it wouldn’t be fair to our faculty………it is not our policy…….we don’t believe in that……..we have never done that……..it isn’t what we do………it would be bad for us……..we would upset people……??????

Upset people? Upset the status quo? Force people to take a look at what is being offered in case it might present information they perhaps do not have and do not think they need (when that could be entirely wrong). Well, OK, I guess.

Seems to me, however, that the various colleges and universities ought to take a look at what it is that is being offered and see if it has legs to fly, one case at a time. They should investigate the quality of the information being taught and who is teaching it. They should investigate whether or not the person who has compiled the method CAN TEACH and CAN SING. Wouldn’t that be interesting as an approach? Wouldn’t that make more sense?

You have read here many times previously that I have encountered quite some number of people holding master’s and doctoral degrees in vocal performance who could not sing well. Who, in fact, sometimes sang very badly indeed. I have even encountered people who should not have been given a degree in voice anywhere, even at a bachelor’s level. I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of how doctorates are awarded but I have been around academia long enough to know that some of the doctoral theses I’ve seen have been utterly ridiculous on topics that made no sense and with information that was flawed and faulty. I’m not saying that everyone is in that category, but, really, if the process worked the way it is supposed to work, NO ONE would be in that category ever. If I wrote here the specifics of what I’ve seen and heard, you would also be just plain astonished.

Why is it then, that there is no kerfluffle about these truly unqualified individuals, representing the highest level of training the professional says it has to offer, when they cannot sing or teach? How is it that a teacher holding a DMA has a pronounced jaw wobble and a vibrato to go with it, as a classical singer, and possesses a voice the size of someone who should sing Despina but thinks she should be working on Donna Anna? How? How is it that a DMA vocal professor at a major university sings through his nose and makes all his students do the same and that this person is regarded by many people in academia as being an awful vocalist? I could go on, because there are many other examples.

But, endorsing a method of one person, even if that person can both sing and teach, and bases their method on science and hygiene, life experience and proven results, now THAT would be foolish.

I’m lucky. I have five universities offering my work. I’m one of the unusual ones, but what about the rest?

Draw your own conclusions.

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