Recently I posted a blurb which caused so much trouble I took it down. That’s the trouble with the truth…..it can be very unpopular.
Most people put up with things because of fear. They are afraid of looking bad, afraid of being judged negatively by others, afraid of rocking the boat, causing trouble, making enemies, throwing stones…….on and on. If, however, what is being stated is true, then perhaps the price of truth is to cause trouble, rock the boat, make enemies (if necessary) and throw stones in order to get people’s attention. If you take a stand, then someone will come to knock you down just because you have. If you don’t take a stand, and most people do not, then things happen that shouldn’t happen. The list of events that start that way and is long and is thousands of years old. What if more people had opposed Hitler? What if the protests against the war in Vietnam had happened BEFORE we went there?
Those who have a stake in a situation that shouldn’t be, or those who are most at risk, often do not speak up because others are involved who may be dependent upon them. If you are a parent who is supporting a child and speaking up might cost you your job, you will probably just put up and shut up. If you are a spouse suporting a sick husband or wife, you, too would look the other way at something that you know shouldn’t be happening, unless you have another job waiting for you.
After many years being very active in his Laborer’s union, my father was elected Treasurer when I was about 12. It took him a long time to get the books from the previous Treasurer but he finally did. With no formal financial training, he laboriously poured over the accounts that he and his fellow workers had paid into with their wages and finally concluded that more than $5,000 had been embezzled from the union by the previous Treasurer (this was in the 50s, so that was a lot of money). When he brought this to the attention of the elected union officials, they actually told him to keep quiet. The Treasurer had a lot of friends, he was a “nice guy” and the union bosses felt that the ensuing notoriety would be “bad” for the union. The man got away with the theft, my father made lots of enemies, and he was forced to quit his post, and never again went to a union meeting. He was extremely disillusioned, but I was proud of him.
So, with that in mind, the situation about which I wrote in my missing post is true and not bringing it to light is a mistake. It is thus: There is a college vocal music program that is operating under very restricted thinking, firing those who do not go along with the “party line”. They refer to the college students as “babies”. They do not teach belting because they think it is harmful, and they do not teach “to the marketplace”, in spite of the fact that this is professed to be a professional training program preparing people to go straight to Broadway. They insist that they are going to make Broadway come around to THEIR standards and the price for this entire arrangement in terms of tuition is at the very high end of what colleges cost. The students have been on the receiving end of profanity by some teachers and have also been told not to question their instructors. Faculty that have their own ideas about singing or acting are quickly fired. If any of this is mentioned, the parties involved get angry. I solicited responses from anyone in any program anywhere that operates under such out-of-balance conditions and did hear from a few people. That solicitation is made again now.
Because the profession in general has no set standards, because we do not yet agree that belting is just another way to use the voice and should be healthy when done correctly, because we do not yet certify singing teachers and require that they actually be able to sing what they teach and sing it well, because we do not openly criticize things that are just plain wrong — we are complicit in their continuing to go on, and continuing to cause innocent singers (students) to become, at best, confused, and at worst, injured. Because we are afraid to speak up and speak out, we are part of the problem.
I have no one to answer to except myself. I do not depend on anyone other than myself for financial support, and no one is relying upon me for financial support. Therefore, I believe I have a moral duty to discuss situations that exist in vocal education that need to see the light of day and are made known to me by reliable sources. The opportunity is then made available for others to discuss these issues represented by these situations with the hope that everyone everywhere will look at them. No, it won’t change the specific scenario mentioned (at least in a direct way), but it may make it harder for other circumstances of similar nature to develop because people (students and teachers alike) will be alerted beforehand.
I have taken a stand with my work. I have an obligation to uphold this stand. Others may disagree with me, as that is their right, but I will speak the truth and take the consequences of so doing.