Piano teachers teaching singing, why?
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Piano teachers teaching singing, why?
Apr 23 2012, 02:03 PM
Joined: 23-January 12
Member No.: 393437
Before I start, I should point out that I mean piano teachers who have not studied singing, but think that after accompanying so many singers, they are fit to teacher singing.
I have only recently started teaching and I was wondering if any other singing teachers struggle with it? My old singing teacher said that she spends half her life correcting the mistakes taught by piano teachers teaching singing. In my own experience, I've been on here before talking about one of my young students, a 10yr old singer. She turned up to the first session, and sang exactly as I would expect a beginner to sing, her voice was completely raw. After the lesson, the mother told me that the girl had been taking singing lessons for a year and she had sung through the whole grade 2 book, could I please pick the songs for grade 2 and enter her for June. I was horrified that someone could have a year of lessons, yet sound so raw. There was no way I was putting her in for grade 2! With a bit of diplomacy I talked her out of it. At the next lesson, I quizzed the pupil and found out that it was her piano teacher who taught her and they had just sung four songs from the grade 1 book and then moved onto the grade 2 book. I'm so angry that this teacher led both mother and daughter to be believe that she was grade 2 standard when in fact she isn't even grade 1 standard! What a waste of a year's worth of lessons, thankfully the teacher did no damage, but she didn't do anything at all! What a waste of money. And I seriously worry about the teacher's methods in general when her only focus in the exams. The mother isn't musical and so she seems to have been led to believe that exams are all that music is about. It's such a shame for a girl of only 10. She's currently studying for grade 5 theory and her grade 6 piano.
Apr 25 2012, 09:37 PM
Joined: 12-January 07
Member No.: 9005
As a non-expert, I find it very difficult to judge what standard a singer is. With most instruments, I think you can reasonably say that if someone can play a range of pieces at a particular grade, then they are more or less at that standard. If a parent said to a new piano teacher "my child can play everything in the grade 2 book, so please can we pick three pieces and do the exam" I don't think anyone would find it particularly surprising, so I can see perfectly well why a parent might not understand that the same doesn't apply to singing, especially when their child plays another instrument.
I know it doesn't apply because many years ago I sang songs now on the grade 7 and 8 syllabuses at choir auditions (we had to re-audition every 3 years). They were songs I liked and I thought they suited my voice and were well within my capabilities. I didn't think they were at all difficult (I was amazed when I saw where there were on the syllabus) and probably practised them only 2 or 3 times in advance. I know I sang them well in the sense that I sang the right notes at the right time, in tune, and with some dynamics and expression. But that doesn't (unfortunately) make me a grade7/8 level singer. I have no technique - have never had a lesson and know I don't breathe or support my voice properly.
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