I read this wonderful blog post by esteemed voice teacher Jeanette Lovetri and the final paragraph stabbed me in the heart…
For every person who has the integrity to tell the truth and say, “I don’t know about this topic, therefore, I won’t teach it or talk about it until I do”, there are a dozen who go ahead and teach or write about what they think they know with impunity, since, either they need the job and the money, or they could care less about whether or not the singer actually learns something healthy and useful, or they don’t know there is something to know. I can’t say which is worse but I know that all three attitudes are alive and well out there and that they will be until people who know better stand up, speak out, and stop the nonsense.
Are you one of them?
My question to you, is: Am I one of them?
There are some students who thank me generously for my time and instruction, some who say I give them a chance they never had to sing, some who experience a boost in confidence and walk proudly into their solo auditions…
But because most of my training was as a choir director and not a voice pedagogue, am I just selling snake oil?
I can say, “Oh, this technique will work with ANY style…” but is that a myth? Is that the same old lie that every voice teacher feeds to their student because they don’t know any other method?
In a way, I can consider myself lucky that I didn’t take voice pedagogy in school–I would have come out as just a carbon copy of my teacher, and my entire business plan would be to make each student a carbon copy of myself in turn. My voice studio would turn into The Wall.
But that’s not what I want to do.
In the same way that I want students to find their voice, I have to demand that of myself as well, and this means seeking out my own teachers. That’s teacherzzzzzzzz, plural. Voice teachers may be famous for their students or methods, but I bet they’re probably more famous for disagreeing with each other with tooth and claw. It’s time for me to find out just how sharp those claws are, and what they file them with.
After googling around and reading up on voice teachers from across the whole style spectrum, I’m going to make it a point to have at least one lesson with maybe…oh, five to seven different people in the next few months, and blog about what I’ve learned.
And the point is to seek out well-regarded, successful, and diverse teachers, not worrying about how contradictory or controversial their methods might be to one another. Because it’s not about finding the ONE TRUE METHOD that works for every singer of every style around the globe (there isn’t any), but to line my own toolbox with enough tools to assist the widest body of singers that come to my studio.
And who knows?–I may discover that elusive Holy Grail of voice teaching: my own trademarked method that I can sell to the world. (cue angels singing) Or maybe not. I think I will feel most successful if I’m just no longer intimidated by the big, crazy voice-teaching world, and my students make huge gains because of it.