Voice, Lies and Videotape

Quite some number of years ago I did two workshops with the noted  Speech Language Pathologist, Dr. Daniel Boone (grandnephew of the famous D. Boone). He has been an important researcher in mid-20th century into speech science and has his practice in the southwest. He kindly told me I was the only singing teacher he could ever understand. The blogpost title here was the one we used for the first workshop.

Currently, we have a plethora of videotaped “experts” from all over the globe offering every possible manner of “instruction” regarding the voice, particularly the singing voice on the web. It  is the case that the vocalist has to be really careful as there is no organization, no governing body, no objective set of standards and/or expectations to guide a singer, (or a parent), nor is there any recourse to having spent thousands of dollars and many years (even decades) on training that turned out to be very substandard. PT Barnum had it right when he said “a sucker is born every minute”.

Further, many of the people teaching all over the world, cannot or could not themselves, sing well. They were limited in what they could sing and how they were able to sing it but that did not stop them from developing methods based entirely on their own abilities (or lack thereof) and marketing them to countless thousands of people who knew nothing, or almost nothing, and could not deflect the ridiculous information being sold. This is still true. Most people don’t know enough about singing to recognize the good from the bad, the truth from the lies or the able from the not-so-able, until it is too late.

The voice is inside the body in the larynx, and we must choose to   make sound deliberately (we can speak or remain silent). Sounds  like  laughing, crying, coughing, sneezing, or shouting,  typically happen spontaneously and are not exactly choices. Cultivating deliberate vocal behavior, enhancing natural capacities, has been a goal for over two hundred years, but it has not stopped people from making up truly crazy ideas about what people can and cannot accomplish through training.

I say again, and again, and again — if it sounds good and it feels good, it probably is good. If it doesn’t fit the music, or sounds wrong, it is probably wrong. You can learn to make any sound comfortably but some sounds take longer to master than others and why that is the case has many factors. You can shout, yell or bellow your way through music and voice lessons but that does not mean you will sing well for a lifetime, and if you are willing to sacrifice your long-term vocal well-being for a quick result, hopefully you do that from a very informed place.

As I have also said here previously, I have a number of people who studied with me on a regular basis for at least a year (some for quite a bit longer), who are using my work as if the concepts and approaches in it are things they came up with on their own. They claim to be vocal experts when they are absolutely not, but there is no one to stop these individuals from using what they gleaned from  my work as if the ideas were their own. If you encounter one of them, you will be at their mercy and you are on your own with what they have made of my lifetime of study, investigation and application of principles which operate in accordance with vocal health, vocal honesty and artistic integrity.  From what I know, it’s unrecognizable and I guess I’m glad for that. It would be worse if they were publicly claiming to teach my work and making a mess of it in my name. Yikes!

Be careful of videos, and the multiple lies about voice. Just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s true or accurate. Keep your guard up, folks. It’s a wild world out there.

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