Do Ya Feel It?

I couldn’t resist sharing this wonderful quote from David Clark Taylor on teaching “sensations of tone.” He sums up quite nicely the futility of trying to teach a student by what they ‘should’ feel.

Correct singing teaches correct sensations.


Under the influence of the idea of mechanical vocal management there is little room for choice between voice culture along empirical lines, and the accepted type of scientific instruction. Modern empirical voice training has little practical value. Describing to the student the sensations which ought to be felt, does not help in the least. Even if the sensations felt by the singer, in producing tone correctly, are entirely different from those accompanying any incorrect use of the voice, nothing can be learned thereby. The sensations of correct singing cannot be felt until the voice is correctly used.An effect cannot produce its cause. Correct tone-production must be there to cause the sensations, or the sensations are not awakened at all. Nothing else can bring about the sensations of correct singing, but correct singing itself.

Further, these sensations cannot be known until they are actually experienced. No description is adequate to enable the student to feel them in imagination. And, finally, even if the sensations could be described with all vividness, imagining them would not influence the vocal organs in any way. This is true, whether the description is given empirically, or whether it is cited to explain a mechanical feature of the vocal action. Instruction based on the singer’s sensations is absolutely valueless.

Taylor, David Clark. The psychology of singing: a rational method of voice culture based on a scientific analysis of all systems, ancient and modern. The Macmillan Company, 1917.

2 thoughts on “Do Ya Feel It?

  1. As I understand it, the voice teacher has to know the “cause”—the cause itself leading to sensation, which is not illusory at all. However, the modern voice teacher is taught to believe that all sensation is suspect, which leaves the student out at sea, a most unfortunate circumstance.

  2. In addition: it is clear from “Hidden In Plain Sight: The Hermann Klein Phono-Vocal Method Based Upon The Famous School Of Manuel Garcia” that specific vocal behaviors lead to specific sensations. Of course, the reader may ignore these matters, and consider them of no consequence, but to do so is to ignore the historical record.

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