Whenever I do a workshop or class out there in Singing Teacher Land I get all kinds of feedback. Sometimes people I work with come up afterwards to shake my hand and thank me for the session, sometimes attendees tell me how much they have learned. I’ve had really glowing responses that massage my ego and make me feel like Queen for a Day. Of course, I have also had no particular response (beyond some applause) from the vast majority of folks, and I have had some few really nasty responses, some of which I have written about in this blog.
Wherever I am, I expect that some of what I say will strike listeners as being good, some maybe only so-so and some of it will seem to really miss the mark. I also expect that some of my listeners will agree with me, some strongly disagree, and some have no particular opinion.
I am careful to comment on the training and the attitudes of the profession as objectively as possible, to cite my reasons for whatever criticism I offer, and to always promote respect for the music and material we have chosen to call CCM, as well as for those who choose to sing in these styles. I may respectfully disagree with other teachers about techniques, but I am careful not to malign them. What I say at seminars and in writing I would (and have) said to them, personally. I give others the same right when speaking to me.
What I DON’T appreciate, however, is being attacked for telling the truth about the state of the industry, about its standards, about its criteria, and about the way that singers are trained to deal with the real demands made upon their voices in CCM styles when I am at a conference or school. It isn’t, wasn’t and never will be up to me, as one individual, to set music industry standards, to change them, to make them what I would like them to be or to protest what they are. It IS up to me to know what professional expectations are in regard to skill, talent and opportunity at the present moment, in this country, and in other countries whenever possible. That’s what I get paid for knowing and that is what people rely upon me to communicate. If I couldn’t or didn’t do that effectively, professionals in the music industry wouldn’t work with me — they would run away!
When I encounter a situation in which the singing training doesn’t align with CCM industry standards for singers, and I know that those singers are paying a lot of money for training which they believe will help them get work, I feel a moral obligation to speak out. Money may be wasted and time may be lost. More money can be generated but more time can’t. Hopes may be dashed and hearts could be broken and there is no remedy for that.
Of course, there is always margin for error. Perhaps what I say isn’t error-proof. I understand that. But it can’t be way off, again, because the professional singers who trust me to help them would know, and they would leave the studio if I was asking them to make sounds that had no relevance to their career goals. They have enough life experience of their own to know what the standards they work under are, and even though we may not ever get to do a “Vulcan Mind Meld”, we can tell by association that our ideas of what those standards are seem to be in agreement.
It’s one thing to know that you are choosing to study singing with someone who isn’t interested in music industry standards, and that you are learning for the sake of learning. That’s a personal decision, and if it is truly an informed one, it is valid. If you are studying without knowing that this situation is occurring, or worse, studying with someone who isn’t even aware that the industry you wish to enter has standards, let alone what they are, then that is a disaster. This is where I am most likely to speak up and this is where I am most likely to get clobbered. I have revealed that the Emperor is bare and the Emperor gets really angry. Not embarrassed, not chagrined, not distressed, no. The Emperor is ANGRY and is happy to blame me for my PERSONAL opinion. The situation becomes my fault. I am the whistle blower and I am the problem. YIKES!
It’s not a nice experience. I do not like it. At all.
Will I stop?
Now, really, don’t you know that answer?