I have dared to enter the fray in yet another social media discussion on the value of voice science in the teaching of singing. It gets so heated, but my recent reading of David C. Taylor’s The Psychology of Singing has helped me much with being able to articulate my position calmly. In this latest thread, the original poster was expressing her dismay at people who discount the value of science in voice teaching. So here’s my angle in the discussion:
I hesitate to say this, but I must go ahead. I really believe based on my research, the written record, and my lived experience that there is a whole set of assumptions about “progress” in teaching and singing that has more to do with cultural and academic changes of the last 200 years than with the the ways that humans actually learn singing. Since the steam engine changed everything about how we make things and get places, we believe that every problem can be solved technologically. But why should that be an unquestioned assumption?
I have recently read David Clark Taylor’s Psychology of Singing from 1914 and I think he states the whole issue about the “science” stuff so well. Voice teaching absolutely can be scientific, but we have been concerned with the wrong sciences. We have become obsessed with mechanics and acoustics, when the major field that could deal with how humans learn singing is psychology. Acoustics and biomechanics have not raised the level of singing.
We know ever more ABOUT the voice, but we are not reaching students in an organic and human way until we understand that Tosi and Mancini weren’t being circumspect or mysterious. We have lost the close contact with the ear-mind-voice connection, and the teaching techniques of modeling examples and non-examples. Imitation and emulation. Sharing of sounds, human voice to human voice. This is how singing is learned best. Machines will not get us to fine singing quicker than finding our connection to the ear-voice-mind and exercising and refining it by listening and singing and listening and singing.