Prelude: Positioning Singing Pedagogy in the Twenty-First Century
Singing is ubiquitous throughout nearly all world cultures, for many reasons and in a variety of settings. We sing alone and together for joy, love, enlightenment or entertainment; out of grief, or hate, or for emotional and spiritual succour in a musical manifestation of the human spirit. For some singers, training in singing is an inevitable outcome of the desire to represent these sung emotions in the most sublime and flawless manner possible. In European cultures from Christianity onward there exists a documented culture of church singing, stemming from even earlier worship singing of the Jewish faith and other cultures. These cultures undoubtedly had an oral transmission of singing training in the ancient master/apprentice tradition. From the time singing became more public, professional and highly regarded, the need for singing training arose in response to the desire for greater excellence in the performative art. Those cultures in which the history of singing training is written down bring much to bear in the processes of training the modern singer. The aim of this book is not to provide a history of singing training throughout every world culture: it would be disingenuous of us to even try. Instead this volume celebrates the art of singing teaching today across a range of musical styles and cultures, through inquiry in such areas as scientific investigation, cultural research and practitioner expertise. Although we will not be documenting the full history of singing training, the purpose of this chapter is to contextualise the chapters to follow, and therefore a declaration of the 'state of play' is necessary before launching into the volume overall. We begin with an acknowledgement of the medieval European Guilds and the European conservatoire environment before we examine the most relevant and recent documentation regarding singing training. We then conclude the chapter by introducing our contributors.
Teaching Singing in the 21st Century