Pedagogical Conversion

As a freethinker, I struggle with the concept of ‘converting’ other teachers to MY way of thinking.

Conversion suggests a state of being ‘in sin’ or ‘in error’ and turning towards the ‘light’ of salvation through the doctrine or dogma of a group or person. It also suggests a fair amount of ‘groupthink,’ i.e., ‘Believe what we believe, and think what we think.’ This destroys individual creativity because everyone must AGREE. Conversion is also usually connected to violence, either physical or psychological, and is correlated to a loss of one’s freewill as it is so often done under duress.

It also creates rivalries and enemies with those that do not agree with us. It creates an ‘us versus them’ mentality that destroys collaboration and shared learning. Even texts with which I vehemently DISAGREE have little pearls of wisdom! Can I discard the entire book if it contains a beautiful gem? Nope.

Pedagogical history is replete with vocal iconoclasts that fought against the overwhelming tide of  ‘modern’ and ‘scientific’ methods, and wished to return to the approach of the true bel cantists: Tosi, Mancini, Manfredini, and others. Many of these teachers were like Semmelweis, standing outside the established pedagogical schools, fighting an enormous battle against the prevailing views of the day. Sadly for Semmelweis, his battle ended in an insane asylum after fighting desperately for pre-surgical hygiene. Many voice teacher iconoclasts have suffered similar fates: ending their teaching careers in states of exile, bitterness, or defeat from fighting BAD ideas of the vocal establishment for so long.

There IS such a thing as bad pedagogy, and this is not to absolve those ideas. Teachers should examine why they teach what they teach, but I fear a world in which everyone believes and teaches the SAME exact thing. There are also BAD ideas about diet and nutrition, fitness, and general health! One must eventually do the research and make their own decisions. 

Certain tenets of the vocal faith are Gospel in regard to function and acoustics (and this information is not hard to find for the Seeker) but I’d rather take the path of sharing information in the pursuit of elevating the conversation and encouraging others to think for themselves, find their own creativity, and share their own unique and creative ways of applying functional principles.

Teach well.

Learn much.

Share often.

Progress consistently. 

Question everything you know.

Ask why.

Find out HOW.

These values are much more attractive to the ‘unwashed’ than overt conversion by the sword of Vocal Truth.

It’s up to each teacher to research competing ideas and make an INFORMED decision on their particular pedagogical belief system, not to be ‘washed in the blood’ of ONE set of pedagogical rules.

If you want to convert someone, I challenge you to question your motives.