According to the American Academy of Teachers of Singing (AATS) there are specific qualifications teachers need to have in order to teach singing at the highest level. (That means for the beginner as well the advanced student.) The following two lists of qualifications will help you choose a proficient voice teacher.
Written by the National Music Council of the AATS and originally published in 1975 (updated in its present form in 1997) this guideline lays out the skills teachers should have in teaching classical and musical theater students. They include:
1. A thorough general and musical education, including sight-singing and ear training. A teacher must be musically literate.
2. A substantial background in vocal study with competent teachers of singing over a period of at least five years. Musical and vocal instruction should include a minimum of 90 hours each year.
3. A complete anatomical knowledge of the body (not just the vocal tract), because the vocal system relies on the whole body support system for the production of tone. For too many decades many have relied on phrases passed from studio to studio, generation to generation. Students repeat these phrases like mottos, not truly understanding the semantic implications nor the physical follow-through. Books or models of the entire anatomy should be used in teaching, to make clear the actual positions and possible functions of the organs and muscles.
4. An overview of the contiguous arts and therapies that can ease tensions and aid in such things as posture control, i.e., Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Rosen Method, massage therapies, dancing fencing, acting, etc.
5. Sensitivity to accuracy of intonation, quality of tone, and nuance of color.
6. A broad knowledge of vocal repertory, and styles of interpretation appropriate to opera, oratorio, art song, ballad, folk, song, and musical theater.
7. Ability to classify a voice, It is generally acknowledged that this important decision dare not be taken hastily. Younger voices take their own time to develop since the larynx itself is still in the formative stage. Correct teaching will allow the voice to reveal it won classification. Caveat: one should not assign music too demanding for the sensitive voice, i.e., freshman voices should not sing senior music.
8. A thorough knowledge and command of the English language; complete mastery of English diction in song through correct articulation, enunciation, and pronunciation; a knowledge of at least three languages (Italian, German, and French) encompassing basic grammar and good performance diction.
9. A basic understanding of psychology and its effective use in the teaching of singing, including a sympathetic, discerning and analytical approach to both personal and professional problems of the student.
10. The ability to demonstrate with his or her own voice the correct principles of good tone production and interpretation. (It must be remembered that many successful and prominent teachers have not been established vocal performers, and many noted singers have not achieved success as teachers.)
11. Some competence at the piano.”
The whole future of a singer may be ruined by incorrect teaching in the beginning- therefore choose your teacher with as much care as you would your doctor. The following list, also written by the AATS (1997) informs the new student on what to avoid when looking for a voice teacher.
•AVOID teachers who make extravagant promises and beguile by flattery.
•AVOID teachers who advertise themselves as "the greatest living authority."
•AVOID teachers who claim the discovery of new and wonderful methods.
•AVOID teachers who promise results in a short or specified time. Singing is a physical development in which muscles are trained to coordinate. This
takes time and varies with each individual.
•AVOID teachers who claim to teach the method of some well-known artist with whom they have never studied, or with whom they have studied for
only a few sessions.
•AVOID teachers who offer a few tricks as a "cure-all" for vocal ills.
•REMEMBER that the most effective teaching requires personal contact, close observation and constant reiteration.
•REMEMBER that a beautiful natural voice is no more valuable to its possessor than a beautiful violin or piano. It is just as difficult to master one as
the other. A singer must be trained, no matter how beautiful the natural voice.
•REMEMBER that a thorough musical foundation, authoritative languages, and general culture are indispensable.
•REMEMBER that intelligence, diligence, determination, vigorous health, and adequate financial resources are necessary for the student of singing.
•REMEMBER that there is no quick result in the study of singing. The student should be prepared for an extended period of study. This does not
exclude the possibility of earning money by singing within this period.
•REMEMBER that a caree
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