Voice Science and Voice Pedagogy, Better Together

“Nothing is beyond question.”
-Ken Bozeman, Interviews on Voice Matters, 12/19/17

In the most recent episode of  Interviews on Voice Matters, Ken Bozeman made the point that voice teachers and voice scientists need each other.  He was saying that voice scientists are not the ones in the trenches hearing voices all day, and likewise, singing teachers do not typically have science backgrounds.

If we are going to learn more about the voice, each type of voice professional has to come to the table.  There are no discoveries about voice that DO NOT require a village to raise, apparently.  And I wholeheartedly agree.

I’m looking for more of a balance between (right now) what I would say are three legs: voice science, historic pedagogy that has a proven track record, and then innate human response.

I point out that the conclusions and observations that I made back in ’89 – and first observed where my vowels wanted to turn over – required that I had seen a voice science chart of first formant locations. The scientists didn’t tell me that.  It took someone in a voice studio dealing with voices all the time to observe that.  So, it’s really a very important dialog we need to have.

And to this day, for example the things I’m doing in my application of [Ian Howell’s] work, I’m not getting from voice scientists.  It’s coming from pedagogues.  But it’s totally grounded in information that the voice scientists supplied us with.  They’re playing a vital role.

-Ken Bozeman, Interviews on Voice Matters (34:41)

Which lead me to say further along in the interview, “we need each other.”  Just like a happy, functional tribe, we work better together.  We get more accomplished together.  We are better able to help each other – together.

I understand the fear that both voice pedagogues and voice scientists have about their work with the human voice.  There is still so much we don’t know about how the voice works, and we don’t know how to reach each other, both in terms of language and experience.  Teaching singing and studying the biomechanics or acoustics of the voice are very different jobs.

But [the scientists] are not always connecting the dots, and I think the reason is because very often the voice scientist can’t see the forest for the trees.  They’re actually studying the molecules on the bark.

And very often voice teachers make up stuff about the trees because we’re looking at the forest, and we need each other desperately to kind of get it all put together.  And also because [voice pedagogues] need to answer questions that simply can’t be answered yet by voice science.

[For example], we have the student right in front of us who has a basket full of variables and they need training right now, and we have to use the best working conclusions we have [in the moment]. (38:06)

So, again, we need each other. I appreciate the desire of people like Ken Bozeman, and so many other voice teachers, to marry their hands-on experience with what science we do have around voice.  Vocology may not have all the answers, but it does feel comforting to know that this is growing body of knowledge that gets easier to access every day.




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