Secrets Of Singing (1959)
Title: “Secrets Of Singing”
Author: WILLIAM ERNEST ROSS, M.M. ED.D.
Publisher: William Ernest Ross, Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington, Indiana
Year of Publication: 1959
Pages: ~ 208
Copyright Status: Public Domain in the United States and countries following the rule of the shorter term
“Two outstanding modern research scholars in the science of singing, Bartholomew and Russell, and many other writers including Baker, Browne and Behnke, Field-Hyde, Garcia, Holmes, Kofler, Lehmen, Longo, Shakes-pear, Shaw and Ldnsay, Stanley, Westerman, Vennard, have advanced the opinion that teachers of singing should know the science of singing as well as the art.
In line with this opinion, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, founded in 1944, has gone on record through its publications what its advisory committee on vocal education believes teachers of singing should know about the psychological, physiological, and physical and acoustical principles involved in the teaching of singing! Workshops and study groups have been established throughout the country to make it possible for teachers of singing to be informed on these principles.
There are, of course, teachers who believe that singing is an art, and who refuse to believe that science should have any place in the teaching of singing. Many writers have advanced the opinion that great singing declined with the introduction of science into the vocal field. The blame should not be placed on science, but rather on those who may have misapplied scientific leaning. Who is to say who is wrong unless the one who brings the charge knows enough about the science of voice production to criticize.
The fact is that the science of singing has come along way without teachers of singing knowing anything about its scientific basis. What they have found out they have found out the hard way, by observation and personal experience alone, without regard for science, theory, or underlying causes.
But there is no reason why most of their findings cannot be substantiated scientifically and used to teach others. That would advance the teaching of singing as a profession, and also would make it possible for more singers to sing better in a much shorter time.
The average singing teacher is and always will be hard to convince that he should know the scientific names of all the muscles, bones, cartilages and ligaments of the vocal tract, or all of the scientific information relating to the physics and acoustics of music, or all of the theories of educational psychology. In other words, he is not interested in learning for its own sake. He would have difficulty in remembering this information unless it had some significance in solving problems connected with the teaching of singing. It is likely that the average teacher is not qualified, by previous vocal study or study of the science of voice production, to pick out what is significant.
What is needed, then, are enough competent persons qualified to transfer scientific theories and facts to actual teaching practices. Many of these facts and theories have been available to teachers, but for the most part they have been lost in the shuffle, partly because of antagonism toward anything scientific, and partly because of inability of teachers to apply these principles.
The application of science to the teaching of singing can be stated simply: a knowledge of scientific principles is necessary for the teacher, but this knowledge alone is not enough; having acquired this information the teacher will be in a position to determine practical methods to solve his teaching problems, and these techniques will have a sound scientific basis.”
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