Ballet and Singing

Franklyn Kelsey once again makes a wonderful comparison of the teaching of singing to the instruction of ballet in his book, “The Foundations of Singing” (1950).  It’s a challenge to not only compare these separate and distinctly challenging art forms, but also to warn against the teacher that has not done due diligence with regard to their knowledge and skill in applying vocal exercises that might actually degrade a voice if not applied with intelligence and discernment.

There is another and equally important parallel which must be drawn between the task of the singing teacher and that of the ballet-master. A teacher of ballet must teach the pupil to do things which would be dangerous if taught by unskilled persons. A clumsy or ignorant teacher who attempted to teach pupils to dance “upon the points,” or to do many of the other difficult feats which dancers must learn to execute, would certainly break ankles and tear muscles in the process. Likewise, the teacher of singing who wishes to develop the voice of a pupil to the full extent of its capabilities must teach that pupil how to do certain things which would be dangerous if taught by ignorant or unskilled persons, and which would certainly lead to deterioration and loss of voice, if not to actual physical damage.  That is an impressive reason why the teaching of singing and ballet-dancing should be kept out of the hands of the sciolist and the charlatan; it is no reason whatever why true singing, or ballet-dancing, should not be taught.

The foundations of singing. Williams & Norgate, 1950

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