Imagine that you are a singing student who has been taught a method that leaves you with your throat feeling pain. It actually hurts when you practice or perform.
Imagine, also, that when you complain to your teacher, you are blamed for being unable to understand the great pearls of wisdom falling from his or her mouth. It’s your fault, of course, for being a student who can’t “get it.”
Is this actually an imaginary scenario? No. Sadly this is a real, present moment experience happening to singing students all over the world. Those who do not understand the throat and the function of the larynx and who have the hubris to teach singing based on faulty information (or no information) approach the students of the world, who are ripe for abuse, putting them in a terrible situation. The very people who should be helping singers to free their throats and voices are doing the exact opposite. To whom do these students turn? Another student? The internet??
This is meant to help those students:
If your throat hurts when you sing (or speak) STOP. Something is wrong. If you cannot get help from your singing teacher, go to a laryngologist (a doctor who specializes in treating the voice), or a Speech Language Pathologist who treats voice patients. If you can, stop taking lessons with anyone who tells you that you should ignore the pain and keep doing the same thing even if it hurts. If you cannot stop taking lessons (for instance f you are in a school situation), do not do what is being asked. Try to do something — anything — other than what you have been doing when you sing that is different and might help you be comfortable. It’s your throat, do not make it hurt on purpose in order to “learn something” about singing. If your throat hurts when you sing (or speak) STOP. S T O P.
And to the teachers of singing:
Singing is one of the great gifts of the world to those who sing and to those who listen. It is an art and a skill. It has to be regarded with respect and honesty. Teaching someone to sing is also a skill and it requires a broad range of knowledge that take years to learn. If you do not really know what you are doing, teach with very careful awareness and NEVER, EVER do anything that causes vocal or emotional harm to another. DO NO HARM!!
I do not look much at the “voice teacher” groups online because so much of what appears there is outrageously low grade. People who have no idea at all about what they are writing espousing ideas that are simply amazing in their lack of accuracy. They argue with each other, trying to “prove” who is “best” or “right”. Stunning, really.
If your singing teacher does not sing well, meaning she can’t apply what she is trying to teach you to herself, (and there is no medical reason why this is the case), if he cannot give you a solid explanation of why you are being asked to do something or why it doesn’t work, run away. Especially if he can’t tell you why what you are doing is wrong that causes your throat to hurt and, more importantly, what to do to stop that behavior, RUN AWAY!! P.T. Barnum said it best, “There is a sucker born every minute.” Don’t be one of those people!