Voice science and how lessons are taught

Voice is a very new science and one that is constantly making new strides and changing the style of voice lessons. Voice teachers and conductors need to stay current about how the voice really works. Unfortunately because of the nature of voice training, technique is traditionally passed from teacher to teacher and new practices and updated research rarely enter their teaching practices. Someone who teaches today often would have learned how to teach from their teacher who learned from the teacher who learned from their teacher and so on. This means that a lot of the teaching going on today is essentially grounded in techniques and voice science from decades ago. This is scary considering that effective laryngoscopes were not even available till the 20th century this means that a great deal of voice training is being passed down from a time before we could even see the voice working on a living person….scary.

Since around the 1970s voice science has made huge strides. Options for viewing and understanding the human voice have evolved dramatically. Today we have laryngosocopy, videostroboscopy and other advances that allow us to easily view the voice in a doctors office easily and affectively. Through videostroboscopy we can view the vibrations of the vocal folds in slow motion to more easily evaluate vocal health and function. All of this means that if your vocal instruction is being passed down from teachers dating before the 1970s your education will be missing almost all of our modern voice science.

The implications of all of this new information is simply that teachers need to be updating their understanding of voice science. If you are a student feel free to ask your teacher a little back ground information. For example I would ask a teacher if they went to college to study voice and when. If a teacher was in school before or during the 1970s and hasn’t been proactive about attending seminars or reading voice journals you may seriously want to think about switching to a new teacher. You could also ask a teach what they do to stay current on voice pedagogy. A good teacher will be reading books, attending seminars, taking lessons themselves or a variety of other ways to improve their own knowledge.


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