There Is Unprecedented Interest In Singing.
Singing is blossoming around the world. The numbers of programmes featuring singing have exploded and hundreds of thousands of young singers are auditioning for their moment of fame. Internet sites like YouTube have encouraged anyone and everyone to contribute. New stars have been born over the Internet and not through the usual channels. Teachers are finding their studios full, even in times of austerity. It seems that many, many people of all ages want to sing. Teachers regularly tell me that they get requests for lessons from every age from 5 to 85.
Musical and vocal tastes are changing as our ears, eyes and other senses become global—not local or national anymore. Global access to information means that we can hear any kind of music from the far corners of the planet. The Internet and television truly have made us “one world”, especially where music is concerned. The singers and future singers of today are exposed to all these new musical experiences on a regular basis. Singers of the current generation are not comfortable or patient with the old traditions of singing and learning. Not only are the singers searching for new horizons, teachers also must find new, creative, authentic ways of meeting the needs of this generation and their music. To that end, there are numbers of new vocal pedagogies being developed for different styles and genres of singing.
There is a new sense of adventure in singing. Teachers are beginning to look outside of the box for bringing new elements into teaching.
Interest in the science of voice is continuing and growing. It is perhaps the best way we think we know at the moment to give us an answer to why. To teach in university you need to accomplish research. This in itself has created an unprecedented interest in the science of the voice and vocal health. The demand for scientific answers has given us better analytical tools and acoustic machinery. Only time will tell if it has really helped us to become better teachers and performers? We think we know more, but also we know at the same time that thinking does not make the best performers. What appears to be happening at this time is an imbalance that is weighted heavily on the side of science. It will be interesting to see how we redress the balance.
Research in singing has been somewhat hampered by our perception of the meaning of scientific method. Thus far, we have in the majority of the cases, been proving scientifically what we already think we know to be true empirically. Most research has been done to prove the accuracy of traditional methods without providing other parameters that might prove even more useful for singing. We are finding out how often we have repeated what we have heard, read or been taught without ever sourcing it for ourselves. This is changing as teachers become more willing to accept that there are many ways to explore and ask questions like what if and why.
Singing is not just for performing. This has always been true, but we are beginning to realise just how unlimited our possibilities are currently and for the future. We know that not everyone can be on stage and we are beginning to realize that there is no need to discourage people from learning to sing when it helps in so many ways. When we foster creativity, people find a way to use what they have got.
Programmes like El Sistema in Venezuela and many other grassroots efforts in education, therapies and healing are using music to aid in learning, healing, self-development—and life! Venezuela has more than 400 youth orchestras that have successfully taken children off the streets and given them instruments. It is a veritable spawning ground for musicians that is being copied in other parts of the world. We are now experiencing numbers of conductors and other musicians that have come through that programme to international fame. While that was not the original purpose, it is one of the huge numbers of results. The programme and the principles it espouses are spreading rapidly around the globe benefitting thousands of children.
Music therapy and healing is growing rapidly as research shows the improvement of health, emotional stability and learning. Nearly every week a new, exciting article appears on the vast advantages and improvement of those who are experiencing, learning and performing music.
Educators are using music for learning many different subjects. Have you heard of the Cern rap? Physicists at the huge particle accelerator in Switzerland have created an explanation of the work there using rap as a means to get their message across. And, the concept does not stop there. Subjects such as algebra, geometry and languages are using rap and improvisation to facilitate learning. Children have been taught using singing as a way to learn for years. Now that this approach to learning has been so effective, teachers in many schools have begun to use it. The result has been remarkable improvement and interest by children, especially those considered slow learners and underachievers. Suddenly they are shooting to the top of the class and loving it. There is a website and online library of hundreds of titles, www.flocabulary.com , that specialises in Educational Hip-hop.
And then there are the Flash mobs singing and dancing in public places such as shopping malls and train stations. The fun and joy of this surprise music has delighted and amused many on their way to and from work or shop. It is fascinating to see an unsuspecting audience suddenly smile, become energised and even get in on the act.
Music and singing are being brought to the world in creative, exciting and enjoyable new ways. How great is that?!
So where is all of this taking us? Where might we look for the future of singing? (See Part 3)