I have been away, as those of you who read this blog regularly must have figured out.
While I was at the PEVOC 10 conference in Prague, attending presentations of all sorts by people from all over the world, I noticed that there is a great deal more diversity than there once was in what people are studying, voice-wise. That proliferation of information, however, doesn’t mean that there is more good information, just more information. It is amazing, but sadly not surprising, that there were people there who had the nerve to present papers that were not only poorly done but outrightly boring and/or stupid.
This is what happens when things expand and these conferences have multiplied all over the world. The idea is, of course, to be inclusive (a good thing) but when you include virtually everyone without criteria, or with very vague criteria, you are bound to encounter a situation where something useless eventually shows up.
In a perfect world, the senior scientists, clinicians and ENTS would have a forum where they could present the result of their work to and with singing and speaking experts and their students, so all could benefit. In the REAL world, you get students working on master’s or doctoral degrees, presenting because it is required in some programs, who have done research (of sorts) on other college students that presents inconclusive data or data that is so obscure as to be completely incomprehensible. You get people doing “research” that really isn’t much. Very frustrating to sit in a hot crowded room and come to that realization halfway through the session.
If you travel thousands of miles and pay quite a bit of money to attend, you don’t want to sit and listen to gobble-de-gook but you have no choice. You also have to struggle with listening to people speak English that is not their first (or even, in some cases, second) language using technical jargon. It’s wonderful that English allows me to attend (I couldn’t go if it were in any other language) but it makes it hard for those who present who don’t speak fluently to do their presentations and even harder for the audience members to follow the statistics and charts.
It was great to be on the last keynote panel of singing teachers from around the world, being asked to say what we would want next from the interdisciplinary exchange that is continuously moving forward. My first request was for research to be done on adult professionals of long-standing successful careers in CCM. So far, there is none. The second request was for the presentations to be shorter, clearer and more to the point. The third request was that people who are subjects of research be skilled and representative of the best the professional has to offer, (else why bother to use them for research?) The fourth request was for my own profession to establish some guidelines regarding what is expected of a singing teacher. (Right).
The only way for things to get better is for these conferences to take place. Messy, yes — chaotic, probably — but exciting nevertheless and over the long haul, still the best way for us to learn from each other. The only way out is to keep going and keep trying and see what eventually shows up on the other side………..decades from now.