Stop Criticizing Famous Singers!

by   |  April 27, 2012
Famous Opera Singer

How many opera singers does it take to change a light bulb? Twelve. One changes the light bulb while eleven others stand around and discuss how they could do it better.

Okay, classical singers, it’s confession time.   We’ve all done it.   While watching a world-famous opera singer perform, we take joy in tearing her technique to shreds.   Though sometimes in jest, we usually express a sense of outrage.   How can she get away with flaunting those lazy vowels?   Have you seen the way her tongue moves with each oscillation of her vibrato?   She’s only famous for taking her clothes off.
Why do we do this?   Is it because we’ve been working so hard and getting no recognition for it?   That’s called jealousy.   Admit it.   You wish you were famous just like she is.
Sadly, it’s not just “unseasoned” students who did this.   In fact, voice teachers are the worst culprits.   I’ve learned never to tell other teachers who my favorite singers are.   I don’t care to hear unsolicited criticism of my idols, thank you very much.
Teachers often pretend that such criticisms are teaching moments.   Don’t do what she does with her jaw!   That’s wrong.   That’s bad!   Well, how bad can it be, considering how successful she is?
Despite what some teachers tell you, there is no single way to sing correctly.   There are somewhat defined “schools” of thought, but disputes arise even within these allegedly unified methods.   When somebody famous comes along, displaying virtuosity through some technique that isn’t the same as your teacher’s, you can anticipate heckling comments from that teacher.
Singing is such a personal thing, more so than playing an instrument.   Since your body is your instrument, how can you not take everything personally?   When someone criticizes your voice, you feel like they’re attacking you as a person.   Singers feel threatened by the thought that what they’re doing is wrong.   If some famous singer exhibits success in a technique that’s completely different from what you’ve learned, what does that say about you?
These fears, rational or otherwise, are what I take occasion to laugh at today.   The next time your voice teacher pokes fun at a famous opera singer, just remember: she’s famous and you’re not.

The End

More on: Classical Music, Culture, For Music Students, Music Teacher, Respect, Technique
About the Author:

Having achieved so many of her own dreams, Mimi West has devoted her career to paying it forward to the rising generation of musicians. You can follow her on Twitter @mydreamteacher.
Publshed: April 27, 2012  | 
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