Just some random ideas today…
As I work out at the gym, I’m struck by the fact that I don’t really see a high proportion of bodybuilders there. There are a lot of your average, everyday people who wish to accomplish their physical goals or stay healthy in general.
YES, there are elite coaches and trainers for those muscle bound athletes and I’m sure when they compete they need to find higher levels of training to accomplish their goals. Gratefully, there are many high level coaches to help those people win competitions and awards. But how many are helping these people in THIS gym? Zero.
Not everyone is a bodybuilder. And not every trainer works with a studio filled with bodybuilders, unless one is an elite market working in a metropolitan area filled with bodybuilders.
So, too, with voice training.
Not every student that walks in the door is going to be a star. But each deserves to have a vocal tuition that will assist them in finding their healthiest and freest voice.
Elite trainers might not be able to work with the mother who wants to work on her voice to sing for her daughter’s wedding – and may weed out students like her because she isn’t a bodybuilder. I cast no aspersion on that coach whatsoever, but the mother is more COMMON than the bodybuilder statistically.
I find sometimes that pedagogy is geared toward the bodybuilders and doesn’t take into account the average singer. There is a lot of value for these people in singing well. They have no desire to stand on a stage displaying their vocal muscles. For these singers, singing is a delicious pleasure and brings them unmeasurable happiness. Even more, these people DESERVE to sing.
Independent voice teachers tend to get more of your average singer (average here is not seen as a pejorative, merely the statistical average of most voices), while teachers in academia get their pick of talented students. This allows for a higher degree of selection for ‘bodybuilders.’ This can create unbalanced and often lopsided pedagogical discussions: you’re talking about training a bodybuilder, and I’m working with grandma who wants to keep her voice fresh and healthy. You can see how we’d be operating from two separate frames.
There are a lot of ways to exist in the voice training world, but not everyone is a bodybuilder, and we should respect that.
2 thoughts on “Ramblings from the Bench (Pun intended)”
Are you reading my mind? Or I yours? Not the same exact topic, but I was at my gym today (I was not lifting but did spend 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer) thinking about vocal pedagogy—this actually: Lamperti didn’t let his students go rowing on lake Como where he had a summer villa. Why? He observed that the effort affected the voice. Talk about elite singers and singing! Such thinking is far in the past now. We have singers appearing onstage with ripped abs. No-one questions it. We even have pedagogues basing their method on exercise physiology (“loading” etc). It’s a curious thing to consider what effort means in this context as applied to old school values. Suffice it to say: grandma won’t be rowing!
What a fabulous observation! Thank you so much for sharing this insight into Lamperti’s approach. Musclebound singing seems to be the mean, and size of voice prized most of all. Interestingly, bodybuilders can have a terrible time with flexibility, and many STRONG people often don’t look like bodybuilders. It can’t be missed that bodybuilding can also be largely more aesthetic than practical. Strongmen of the past bear little resemblance to the bodybuilders of today. GREAT points to consider, Daniel!