The importance of science in vocal pedagogy.
We are not going to go backwards. We are not going to stop investigating how the body makes voiced sounds and what happens when we make them. We are not going to go back to the days when making music was only “having fun” and “being creative”. We are going to continue to learn more about how the voice works and we are going to find it more and more necessary to understand vocal function because music is not going to go backwards either. We are not going to have new Mozarts and Chopins, we are not going to have more Coplands and Brittens. We are going to have composers whose music defies categorization and encompasses all parameters. Those who do not know what they need to know in order to address these new musical and vocal challenges will be left in the dust.
Further, the world of vocal and choral pedagogy will continue to grow more intimately connected with voice science and vocal function because there will be more research, more study and more investigation into all kinds of vocal use. In time, even children who sing will be studied and those organizations that were studied first will become the benchmarks for all future studies, by way of comparison.
To dismiss voice science because it does not seem relevant nor necessary is foolhardy. This is an attitude that comes from insular thinking and a confined perspective. In fact, ignoring voice science research while remaining involved in vocal activities of any kind, particularly on a professional level, can already be seen as being “old-fashioned” and limiting. In the future, it will soon become a philosophy that is connected not to possibility but to safety and security, two things true artists must always avoid. The idea that voice science isn’t important will be considered a liability, not an asset.
In order to have vision for the future, one must look carefully at and learn from the past. In order to break free of present restrictions and ascend to the next level, one must grasp the expected norms and deliberately push past them. To do this, you need to understand what others consider the standards to be. If you are always in the same box, you can never encounter or appreciate how many other individuals have already stepped outside it. In order to step forward as a leader, one must know long before one’s followers know, what the trends will be, and how to discover the new paths to be trod while being a lone pioneer.
Voice science is the future. It is the way to know what you know. It is the reason that teaching people to sing will finally be done “with reason”. Vocal expression and musical creativity live in the precise application of vocal function and a deep appreciation for the miracle of making musical vocal sound deliberately. There is no other direction for the 21stcentury.