Technology and the reluctant voice teacher

cartoon-man-running-away-scared-121191“I don’t like Skype.”

“You have to see it in person to understand it.”

“You can’t learn how to sing from a video.”

“People won’t understand what I’m doing if I teach on a video, or stream a lesson or class.”

I will agree that for the singer, the best experience is going to be a one-on-one lesson with an excellent teacher. The teacher will also have the richest impression of the student and be of the most immediate service in such a traditional format.

However, that has not prevented hundreds of people from writing books about singing and pedagogy. Why did they write? If the answer is something like “to pass on valuable ideas about singing”, then why wouldn’t audio and video recordings be a useful adjunct to that? (Of course, if the answer is “because I had to do it for tenure” the material is often less than inspiring.)

“But a video recording of a class doesn’t really reflect the reality.” Well, of course it doesn’t. The minute a real-time event is over, fidelity is lost, whether in people’s memories or in the translation to video, audio, or print. But wouldn’t it be nice to have as many modes of recall as possible?

Let’s include all the means at our disposal. Let’s write helpful words, show helpful actions, hear positive results. Heck, let’s hear negative results! Singing is a performance activity. It is wholistic and occurs in time. It cannot be frozen perfectly in all its dimensions in a book or photograph, or reproduced in 100% richness in any medium, including video. But if video can get people to ask questions, jog their memories, or lead them to better ideas and people with whom they can study and forge beneficial connections, why not?

Julia Child’s cooking show was messy and she sometimes made mistakes. But if you stuck with her for even a little bit, you learned something and enjoyed the experience. I think we as voice teachers have amazing opportunities to show what we do and learn from each other. We just have to get over waiting until everything is perfect.

If you enjoy this blog, consider grabbing a copy of Sane Singing: A Guide to Vocal Progress, available in print and ebook!

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