An imaginary conversation between two singing students in 2110.
Mary Jo was speaking to Charlene.
“Gee, I just read that in the old days all training for singing was called “classical”. Everyone studied the kinds of sounds that people make in arts songs or operas no matter what kind of music they wanted to sing! Isn’t that WEIRD?”
Charlene answered, “Yeah. I heard that they said that if you sang rock or gospel music you were told it would ruin your voice and that learning to sing opera would let you be ready to sing things like R & B. My mom even told me that singing teachers used to argue about this stuff ’cause no one really understood how many different kinds of sounds a person’s voice could produce. I’m really glad we don’t live back there in the 20 teens!”
Mary Jo continued “My mom also said that when her grandmother was young operas weren’t amplified at all and that singers sang without any kind of mikes. She said her grandmother remembered when her mother went to the opera and the opera orchestra didn’t have any electronic instruments in it or any kind of effects from a sound engineer. Her Granny told her that her mom went to lots of operas in New York at the Metropolitan Opera where people sang like this all the time. Isn’t that incredible? How do you think they did that? I think that was when they showed the first television broadcasts on big screens to people in theaters and on the street in New York City. That was before everyone had a portable TV they could wear on their wrist to see and hear anything they want at any time. It must have been a strange way to live, you know?”
Charlene continued. “I did a report last year on schools back then. I found out that if you went to college (of course that was before we could all take college courses at home on line) you had to study all kinds of things that were required that didn’t really have anything to do with what you needed to learn so you could go out and get a job singing after school was done. You had to take sight-singing and music theory if you wanted to be in music theater but not necessarily get dancing, and you had to study acting in drama school but maybe they wouldn’t give you singing lessons, or if you wanted to be a rock singer and learn to play a guitar, they probably wouldn’t give you singing lessons at all, or teach you how to perform on stage. The training was all mixed up and there were no schools where you could get a college degree studying all the things in one place that were practical, necessary and important, but related to whatever kind of singing and music you wanted to do. Lots of people had to study “classical” singing to get a degree when that wasn’t what they wanted to sing at all. A lot of the teachers were teaching things they couldn’t do themselves and hadn’t studied either. How wacky is that??”
“Wow,” Mary Jo replied, “I had no idea. I guess that’s why they call it the Dark Ages of Singing Training. I’m so glad it’s not like that now, where you can study anything you need to at any time with any kind of teacher just by getting on your computer. It’s so simple. Like, you know, you can study Japanese with a Japanese teacher in Japan while sitting in your own kitchen. Imagine back then when most people had to go to a school in a building sometimes far away, and go outside even when it was snowing. Yuk.”