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May 10, 2012

Comments

Tom

Your analysis seems to confirm the claim "The Voice will attract more talent next year than other talent shows" rather than reject it. Of course, the equilibria are in mixed strategies. But the probability is a function of cost-benefit ratio, which means that the show with more favorable ratio will attract more talent.

chris

Yes Tom, you're right. If Danny only means "more", I agree. Where I disagree is with his use of "tenfold"; this is surely pushing it.

muefty

Michael, you see, that is the difference bweeetn now and then. When I was studying, you simply took lessons so many times a week. You were charged so much a month, not per lesson like happens now. Though, in my case, I didn't pay for my lessons. I did the first year, then after that she wanted no money. Even after I was making good money and still consulting with her, she never took a dime. I believe a number of singers had such experiences: Maria Callas was never charged by her teacher, nor was Beverly Sills, nor was Helen Traubel. Now this is certainly NOT what I would think would be normal (it isn't, though it is amazing how many really great singers ultimately were given free lessons and for years; did teachers see a potential that made them think they were witnessing something) and it is definitely NOT what any student should expect, and no teacher should feel obligated to do. I have even taught people for free because they had great potential, but often very little money. Even then, I wouldn't make a habit of it because when people have to actually sacrifice a bit for something, they usually do more work. And the ones who usually want it for free can afford it, they are just too cheap, and not only that, they usually don't work either. Those who are too poor to pay, I have never found ask or even suggest getting lessons for free. They simply plug on continuing the best they can. Some teachers when I was studying (though at that time it was certainly dying out as a practice) actually signed singers to contracts, not for money now, but on their future earnings. Again, one has to see incredible potential in a student to do that. But such teachers usually were ones who were in the know. They knew they could get their students a listen by important managements. So a huge part of the equation was dealt with. But some of those contracts were robbery. We have all read of the contract Caruso signed where he had to pay for so many years of singing, which he thought would be singing that long, not as the contract stated, that many years of actual singing, meaning he would be paying the rest of his life as only when he was actually singing for pay was it seen as time to be put to the total time. But you are right, the cost of lessons is simply too high for most people to pay for 3-5 lessons a week. Yet, if the truth be known, people don't really progress well with one lesson a week, even if they record the lesson so they can repeat it at home. When at home repeating what they learned, they don't have a watchful eye to keep them on track. They simply repeat what they think they remember. They hear the instructions, but they don't see what they are supposed to be doing. In some ways, that is one of the reasons vocal study is all out of wack. Students are not studying enough to build really strong and true foundations. They are learning, but a bit here and a bit there. They wait too long bweeetn lessons so as to reinforce bad habits more than the good ones they are supposedly learning. They also don't get to see their teachers often enough to consult over things that simply didn't make sense or that they didn't understand. And again, they are not really hearing real singing very often, if at all, to help them chart their journey. That was one of the differences that many of us older generation had; we were exposed to singers. Our teachers were part of the industry, not just people out there teaching. Many teachers in the past knew who to recommend you audition for, they knew managements and could talk you up to them. If you lived near a good opera center, you could even have important management people stop in to witness singing classes of the various teachers. They were out looking for new singers. This doesn't happen anymore. No one simply has the time to do any of that. Managements are far too busy to be taking time to hear up and coming singers in studio. I would say 99% of the teachers have no connections at all, except with perhaps professional teaching societies, but not with the people who really matter when it comes to getting careers started. And absolutely no one has the time now days to groom an up and coming singer. I came in at the tail end of that practice where conductors would work with new singers and help them understand their craft. Where couches really knew about singing, about the voice, and about the repertoire, and what was required. Time was taken to help a young singer learn how to move, how to interpret, how to understand what they were doing. That simply doesn't happen anymore. Conductors are there one day and gone another. You may not even work with the main conductor for most of the rehearsals, but with an assistant conductor. The entire approach to the industry is entirely different. Some singers, like Marilyn Horne and Martina Arroyo, and now Dolora Zajick, are trying to help younger singers understand their craft and have set up organizations to help them learn what is expected of them. They remember how much help they received during those important beginning moments, and how there is nothing out there now. Since not a lot of singers have finished such programs, we are not able to see what they are really doing. But there is hope. Eventually those singers will be ready. The strange irony is when I started there were few opera companies and far less opportunities than there are now to sing, but so much more done to make sure we could succeed. Now there are tons of opera companies (almost every city has one now, which was not the case when I started) and yet, there are FEWER opportunities for a singer to sing and actually learn their craft. Most of those smaller opera companies never use local talent, but only bring in big names (if they can get them) or moderately known names (but who can all claim they sang at the Met). Even some of the small roles are sung by people brought in. The most local singers get as opportunities is to sing before high schools with piano (and never in a full production) IF the opera company actually does that sort of thing. So people study, some actually become very good, and then they get no where. I think that fact in and of itself also has played havoc with vocal study. People really feel they need to get out there or there is never going to be a chance. So, they try with all their might to get all their studying over with in a year, if they can. They audition when they aren't ready. They seek agents when they have nothing really to offer or that is sallable. They sing willy-nilly anywhere just for the experience and pay more attention to that than to their own progress in proper vocal function. And everyone knows now days that very few people who study will ever become singers. In a way, I think it was easier in the past when very few people actually wanted to sing opera. There were those who had the right voices, powerful enough, ringing enough, and that from the beginning sounded like opera is about all they could sing. Then training began and the direction was set. People whose voices were only suited to Broadway or singing in church simply didn't entertain the idea of opera. Nor were they encouraged to do so. But with the advent of opera companies in every city, more and more people decided they wanted to sing. The problem is no facilities opened up to handle all those new people with the desire to sing. Academia took over and with all things academic created a plan, and outline of what must be covered to qualify for a degree. People thought that would be good. But the problem is, nothing planned was based on getting out there and having a career. Rather it offered the fantasy of forming a career because you studied. When I began, almost NO SINGER had a degree in music, nor did they feel the need for one. They learned their craft. Even conductors didn't have degrees, rather they apprentices under some great important conductor. There were even singers who couldn't read music!Now everyone and their dog has at least one degree in music, and yet they don't sing any better. To make a music degree, especially in voice, seem more legitimate, students had to perfect Theory, Harmony, counterpoint, form, composition, choir, and a whole host of other things (not to mention real classes like math, English, literature and the like) and maybe piano if they didn't already play. The exposure to music was much better. Even skills that can help them learn the music were better. But all that took the place of actually learning HOW TO SING. Learning to sing is but one course of many. And to be a singer, it should be the most important course of all. Even private lessons can stand in a singers way. Even if you have a super great teacher in the sense they really know what to do, if they are not degreed no one thinks you know what you have learned and what you have learned is suspect. Music societies will not listen to you, and even opera companies may not audition you, simply because they may not have heard of your teacher. People turn to lists of people on some voice teacher society page and that instantly makes them legitimate. Yet, most of those teachers couldn't teach anything to anyone. Most of them became teachers because they couldn't make careers. They couldn't even get through the door. So, in order to not waste their education become teachers. Some even become school teachers in school music programs, others get more education and become professors. But a career, or any shadow of one, was never on the horizon. You mentioned my teacher had correct information, and she did. But she had more than an understanding of the voice. She had an understanding of the industry and what pressures a singer would be put under by that industry. She knew from experience just what could destroy my balance and how to make sure I didn't fall victim to that. Her experience became my experience. That is why to me the problem is far reaching, not just as it deals with teachers teaching singing. It is the entire industry itself. In fact, the fact we call it the music industry in and of itself tells us how our entire thinking has shifted. We are not maintaining a great art form, rather we are producting a product. Now of course, music and opera have always been a product for sale. But in the past, people did like to think that product had some form of sacred flame that was to be kept burning for the good of all society. Maybe that was a bit too much in some ways. But we have replaced that idea with a commodity to sell, to make profits, to market, and to sell shares on the open market. Every aspect of it is simply a business and is handled with the same coldness of most businesses. People are expendable, talent is negotiable or can be created through marketing, and a whole host of other things. That has probably always been part of the art form, but now that is ALL THERE IS TO THE ART FORM. I think because people are concentrating on the wrong thing is exactly why we have all these theories about singing, and everyone doing the wrong things with it. It is just an industry, and everyone is out for a piece of the pie. Most things in our society have been reduced to the bottom line. And in most fields we are paying a price. Music is no different. Now that doesn't make it right. It is just what it is. And because singing is so mysterious, it is impossible to set forth a certain set of rules that must be followed to become a great singer. As a result there are no set standards for any teacher to follow. And anyone can become a teacher. And since 90% of what we read about singing, especially from the old masters, never actually puts the human body into the equation, but rather speaks of things that create a sound, is it any wonder no one even knows what to teach or that most of what they teach has no connection to the body? Most singing teachers of the past never talked about any connection to the body. In fact, most of them wrote mostly scales and exercises to be sung without any real explanation as to what you were to be getting out of what they were saying. The real important information they kept to themselves so as to cause people to have to come to them to learn the secrets of singing rather than to one of their compeditors. And since every portion of study stresses learning all this from the past and doesn't even entertain the idea that there is a way the body functions, is it any wonder no one is on the right track on anything? We read and study half recorded vocal methods and use them as the basis of our understanding. Those teachers were like teacher today, trying to make a living off teaching, and they would never give more in their little books about their method than would be common knowledge with maybe a little touch here or there to make their method seem new and special. Then, what they actually did in lessons was never recorded. Singers, even today, guard their methods like they are guarding a gold mine for fear some competitor or up and coming will learn what they do and out-shine them. That psychology is what fuels the industry and has from the beginning. With everyone hording their understanding and only allowing small nuggets of inspiration to tumble out occasionally so they can get students, is it any wonder most people have no idea what is involved in singing, even teachers who have studied in university? Part of the reason there is so little correct information out there is so few people are willing to allow the correct information to actually go out beyond them. They are hording it for fear someone else may learn what they know. Because of that attitude, I don't think there has ever been a complete understanding of voice and singing ever out there for anyone to learn. Jealousy and fear someone else may learn your secrets has created all this half given information. Now days nearly everything we teach is based on this half-shared information. Everyone else then fills in the blanks with what they think they know. With that, is there any wonder again that no one knows what to teach? I am left with the belief that great singers became such because of 1) a god-given talent and ability that was nearly perfect to begin with, 2) by some stroke of luck they found a teacher who really did understand and know what to do, 3) the fates opened the doors so people would listen to them and give them a chance, 4) and they worked ever so hard to attain what they did. And with all our study and understanding of today, I think we are still very much at the same place. Singers become great because they were meant to become great. The rest of us simply are what we are and nothing else. I say that because we are talking about the failure of teachers now days to create sound vocal use. Yet, even if you look at those great teachers from the past we worship so highly, most all their students had flaws, sometimes majory flaws in their voice production. Jenny Lind who was taught by Garcia ended up singing wonderfully well, always had a slightly veiled middle voice, and was NEVER able to sing dramatically (her Norma was a failure, though she had all the notes, but her Amina was without peer). Pasta always had pitch problems. Malibran had a rebel as a voice and had to beat it into submission all the time. Viardot was about the same and actually had many flaws with her voice, but made it sing everything. Colbran had amazing coloratura but her voice didn't last all that long. The list goes on.All these singers were taught by these secret and special methods of those old teachers of the past. None of them were perfect. Most of them were super flawed in what they did, but it is what they did with those flaws that made them great (like Maria Callas of our day). So we worship all those old methods certain they will open some secret door to great singing. They haven't. Sometimes I think to improve things we have to get over our worship of the past. Those teachers had insight and sold their information to make a living, but only just enough to get people's attention and bring them into their studios. The singers were great because of their personalities and what they did with what they had. I am not sure that if we heard any of those singers from the past now if we would even like their sound. What people liked then is not the same as what people like now. To me, it is when we strip all that from singing instruction and see it as a bodily function and start thinking in terms of how the body works, then we will see sanity return to song. That is at least, my view on this.

Adriana

everybody has been in a children choir, iulncded me but I still lack of range and captivating vocal timbre, yep he uses an instinctive technique which works for him, but not for other types of voice, also brian johnson is the same, so seeking for lessons cause your goal is singing like axl or brian is just stupid, there's nothing academic on them. it's just pure nature

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