Popular and commercial music voice teachers are generally under-represented and under-served in the voice teacher community. The reasons why are pretty long and convoluted, and I’m sure they’ll be discussed later, but, for now, here’s a quick summary of the current state of our community.
Traditionally, people who want to sing and teach voice professionally get a college degree, but there are only a handful of degrees in the country that are based in popular and commercial genres. The rest of us go to school in either classical voice (which is most music programs), musical theatre, or jazz. Musical theatre and jazz programs sometimes include a bit of popular and commercial music, but most of us generally piece together an education about singing and teaching popular genres on our own. We might be great at figuring out the notes and rhythms in a song, have a wealth of information on good vocal health, and know a decent amount about vocal anatomy, but we have to fill in HUGE gaps in our knowledge about how the vocal instrument works in different styles, knowing standard chord and rhythmic variations in different styles, running a private studio, the music business in general, microphones, sound systems, DAW’s, recording, touring, booking, marketing, social media, publishing, etc.
Some singer-teachers realize that they won’t get to study popular music in college, so they pass on the college music degree and instead get real world experience in a lot of the stuff the music degree students miss. Occasionally, music degree students do this stuff on the side while they’re studying opera, jazz, or musical theatre at school.
Every singing teacher wants to learn more about helping singers be successful in their chosen genre(s). Professional organizations, journals, and conferences are usually great ways to do that, but the most powerful professional voice teacher organizations are currently made up of mostly collegiate teachers, and since most college programs are classically-focused, most articles, research, and conference presentations have, for many years, been focused mostly on classical singing, with more musical-theatre-focused material in recent years.
I’m in that first group of teachers. I received two classical voice degrees, and while I love studying and singing classical music, I also love popular and commercial styles just as much. While my voice feels at home in popular styles, I’ve had to learn the hard way about sound, recording, booking, etc., meanwhile feeling rather jealous of the resources and community that I see for teachers in other genres. I’ve talked to so many voice teachers who are in the same boat. We’re starving for quality materials and classes that take us seriously and are relevant to us. We’re starting to stand up and be counted in organizations and in academia, and some material and classes are being geared toward us, but there’s a long way to go.
I’ve felt a need to foster connection in our community in whatever ways I can, and to help writers, pedagogues, researchers, publishers, and other organizations see that there is indeed a demand for resources for us. So, this past Thursday, I started by creating the Popular & Commercial Voice Teacher Network group on Facebook. While social media is a great place to share information and connect and dialogue, it’s not always a great place to store ideas permanently, so I’ve started this website so we can easily find lists, tagged blog entries, and links to resources that we share with each other.
I will do my best to address the needs listed in that group by having guest bloggers, doing interviews, curating lists of books, websites, blogs, articles, etc., in addition to sharing my own thoughts and research. Please join in the dialogue by sharing what you’re hoping to find here. Comment below or take the Facebook Group polls when you join.
Special thanks to Kevin Michael Jones for his hard work developing the Musical Theatre Voice Teachers & Coaches Network and its corresponding website http://musicaltheatreresources.com, both of which served as a model for this group and its website. His groundwork paved the way. If you are a Musical Theatre voice teacher looking for resources and a great community of people, please check out his website.
I’m looking forward to meeting you and to becoming better teachers together.