Certification of voice teachers – A hot topic

There is increasing discussion of the pros and cons of certifying voice teachers.

Those in favor of it are interested in learning a system, so as to have something to use that has some kind of internal logic and progression of steps. It can be overwhelming to be a new teacher and wonder what to do. College instruction in vocal pedagogy is short and limited, and the teacher who teaches multiple genres and ability levels soon learns that there is always a huge amount to learn to be effective with a diverse clientele.

Studying a particular “method” or certified process, or whatever they call their system, can help you to get inside the principles and reasons of a particular master teacher. The vast majority of certification programs out there are in one particular master teacher’s method. The organizations started by Seth Riggs, Brett Manning, Jeanie LoVetri, Lisa Popeil, Jo Estill and many others are examples of this. One can learn a lot from these people.

Those who are against certification feel that certification programs are too slanted. Some people are uncomfortable with the perceived “cult of personality” that is an omnipresent danger of such organizations. When the founder no longer has complete control of the organization, what happens? Are the originator’s ideas kept as gospel, or are new ideas introduced? Is there one person who is the successor, or is there some kind of governing body to keep the system alive? How are certificated people tested? Who knows what they are actually doing in practice?

Getting a certification may be a good idea for some and not for others. At different points in a career, a certification program may be more appropriate than at other times. Certain personality types are more likely to stay within one certification camp or another. Also, the certifying organization/person are bound to change. As organizations and their members grow, people may naturally part ways.

It’s a lot to think about if you are a teacher looking for learning opportunities and considering the pedagogical and career ramifications of certification.


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