I have read a lot of books, studied several methods, and discussed voice topics for many hundreds of hours. I have changed my mind, eaten my words, been proven wrong many times. I’ve embraced things I once swore against, have gone in new directions technically, returned to old things, and have continued to move in the direction of openness, curiosity, and consideration as I re-learn that without change, we die. This causes my priorities to shift over time.
This is partly a function of personality. Some people are fundamentalists, and get a system and stay with it forever. I’m not a fundamentalist. I survey, scan, experiment, and dabble quite a lot. This makes some people crazy. My mom used to tease me. “Stop flitting!” she would say.
Over time, I developed some values about primary goals of voice training. These presently form a basis for practicing and teaching.
- A clear pitch center that is in tune.
- The ability to sing all words musically.
- Flexibility in pitch, rhythm, and dynamics.
- Usable range of two octaves or more.
- Vocal endurance.
- Reliable physical performance.
- Phrasing that pleases the listener.
- Enjoyment of the act of singing.
There could be many other values, depending on the student. Both the principles above and the ways of teaching them can be extremely varied, but the teacher has to pick a path and stick with it long enough to get a result. With results, the teacher can then assess the path and change if necessary.
My priorities change more slowly than they used to, but they still change. With mastery of one thing, comes the desire to improve something else. What are your priorities as a singer? As a teacher? What does your teacher emphasize in lessons? What technical and musical points do you cover in your practice sessions? Making a simple list of priorities can help you to organize your time and be more productive. Keep your old lists with dates on them and watch things change. If they don’t change, consider asking “why not?”.