Never Ending Undergraduate Education

It has come to my attention that many teachers of singing spend their entire careers at a college or teaching in a junior or senior high school. Some of these teachers do not have a “private practice” outside of their school jobs. This makes for a strange relationship to singing and singers.

People of all ages can sing. Even really little children can carry a tune and age is no factor for others. We just saw Barbara Cook at Avery Fisher Hall sing with the NY Philharmonic for her 80th birthday and she sounded young, clear, and absolutely wonderful.

People of all levels of ability are interested in or desire to find a way to sing. Some just want to sing in the local community or church choir, others who are professional actors or dancers find that they are suddenly expected to sing in a production although they don’t have any background as singers.

I have worked with people of all levels of ability from practically none to world famous artists, with those from musical families who sang from their earliest years to those who began singing in their later years with no background at all and learned to sing successfully. I have worked with people with absolutely gorgeous voices and those with voices that are plain and simple, and people with all manner of vocal injuries or illnesses, physical impairments, and emotional issues.

Teaching only young people who enter music programs, one assumes, being able to at least match pitch is certainly a good thing to do but it is a finite way to deal with education. Teaching only college students who have to audition to get into a school in the first place also creates an environment that is limited. Those who do not teach any other population might never have to confront any of the people I just mentioned. But confronting those people is an enormous opportunity to learn.

Those who are in the “ivory tower” of an educational organization may formulate the very incorrect and skewed opinion that the world reflects the school environment when frequently the school environment has nothing whatsoever to do with the real world. Those who do not venture out into the world to see and hear all that is out there in singer-land cannot possibly know how the world is changing (ever so fast and always), what is current and why. Those who teach something in the same way, over and over, with no changes in approach for decades, cannot understand why new and different skills and approaches are necessary even in those who do a good job with what knowledge they already possess.

I wonder if this is why, when CCM teaching is demonstrated to these people, they are so against what they are presented. Do they realize that the teaching reflects the real world, what is happening now or are they completely ignorant that there even is a world……..other than the one in their campus studio.

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