Mind your Language
A traditional singing studio uses language as the primary element of the teaching and learning process. Social contructivist Lev Vygotsky explored the relationship between thought and language. He proposed that language informs thought and that thought comes to life through language. It is through the fusion of thinking, speaking and experiencing that we construct our own knowledge. In the current educational climate of securing outcomes and justifying time and money spent, singing teachers are challenged to be competent managers of the learning process. Learning theory is inadequately defined in terms of studio singing teaching; certainly it rarely drives the practice! Identifying theories underlying the way that singing is learnt may point to a more effective use of language for the teacher. Firstly, to better inform the teacher about the choice of language for teaching, awareness of declarative and procedural processes should help identify the manner in which the various components of the complex singing program are acquired. Secondly, sensory experience is vital to the learning of singing. The good singer aims to respond to sensory information without 'intentional doing'. Yet, because language is connected to the areas of the brain that produce conscious thought and intentionality, the singer's unintentional kinaesthetic experience at various times will intersect with the teacher's habitual and intentional language. Singing teachers who engage primarily in verbal discourse are often unaware of the perceptual motor learning taking place, which is vital to the physical skills implicit in singing. In this paper, learning theory, perceptual motor skill learning and the use of language in the singing studio are explored and linked. Blanton, B. (1998). The application of the cognitive learning theory to instructional design. International Journal of Instructional Media, 25 (2), 171 Thurman, L. & Welch, G. (Co-ed) (2000). Bodymind and Voice:foundations of voice education. Revised Edition. Iowa City, Iowa: National Center for Voice and Speech. Verdolini, K. (2002) On the Voice: Learning Science Applied to Voice training: The Value of Being "In the Moment". Choral Journal, 42 (7), 47-51 Wink, J. & Putney, L. (2002) A Vision of Vygotsky. Boston, MA.: Allyn and Bacon Woolfolk, A. (2004) Educational Psychology. 9th Ed. Boston, MA.: Pearson Education Inc.
PROCEEDINGS: 27TH WORLD CONFERENCE OF THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR MUSIC EDUCATION