The People Who Care

In singing there are the people who care and those who don’t. Believe it or not, some of the singers themselves are in the category of not caring. I remember hearing that Grace Slick of Jefferson Starship had at least 7 operations to remove vocal nodules and thought that was just fine. This was just a rumor, no proof, but I always wondered. Could someone actually feel that way?

I have heard that some vocalists like having nodules, because it gives their voices “character”. If they can sing well anyway, I guess it’s a personal choice. Not one I would make, however.

There are people who feel that being continuously hoarse and scratchy is some kind of badge of honor. It shows that they are “honest” singers who “feel deeply”. Well, maybe to them.

There are the singers who don’t want to pay attention to “technique” lest it interfere with their “uniqueness”. Too bad. That is just an ignorant idea. There are others who don’t even know what technique is, since they have never encountered any kind of training.

If we look at the people who interface with singers, then we encounter an entire new group of people who have different versions of not caring. There are coaches who don’t understand vocal production and ask for stupid or even dangerous things from singers. This is awful if the singer is a novice. There are producers who want a “certain effect” in the recording studio and don’t care how the singer gets it. This would typically be men who “think they know” but actually don’t. (Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, are you listening?) There are musicians who work with singers who just don’t like singers and have a condescending attitude towards them. They can play too loudly, or play in a key the vocalist may not be able to manage (but won’t object to if she needs the job). They make nasty remarks about the singing creating a lousy atmosphere for the artist in which to sing.

And, sadly, there are the singing teachers who only care about their own egos. I know of a well known teacher here in New York City who insists that his students call him “professor” even though he isn’t one and has never been one… a college, in a bona fide program. This is a man who has never belted or sung any kind of CCM but teaches people who do and I can only imagine what that’s like. There are the teachers who only care that the student learn their version of things, no matter whether it fits their needs or not. All sorts of people involved with singers and singing don’t care about either.

Of course, thankfully, there are many people who DO care, and we must be very grateful for them. These are the people who, in each discipline, are doing whatever they can to help singers from beginners to advanced professionals stay healthy and safe, be happy with their singing and be able to sing whatever they need to perform. There are singers who care about their voices and their vocal health, about their artistic output and about their long term artistic development as vocal artists. There are musicians, coaches, producers and many others who are interested in the highest and best values of all things that support singers in every area of their lives.

If you are a singer, look for the people that care, and in your own singing, care about your voice, your artistic product and your long term vocal well-being. Care about your colleagues and about the music you sing. Act as if it all mattered because it does. Live those values every day and much of what you need in your singing will come to you. Don’t settle for less.

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