Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Vocally Speaking and Otherwise... Quality versus Cheap Bargain Deals?

I have been running the Royans professional Vocal School since February 15th of 1984. 
By the way, at that time, it was called the Royans School for the Musical Performing Arts. We opened it at first as a regular Italian neighborhood music school.
Outside of myself, we had 6 or 7 junior instructors and not just for vocals, but for the variety of musical instruments we taught.

Almost 29 years ago now, there was a vastly different world. We had over 100 students and over 7 teachers and a huge demand for our services from both children and adult populations. 

For each musical discipline, we had a certain curriculum, the certain set of hours attributed to each of them, and definitely, a set price for each and every course we were delivering.
Those were the days when we had a rotary phone on our desk, and a tape answering machine. And a few years later, we even acquired a typewriter, as strange as it sounds today. My assistant, who is to date 25 years old, while writing this along my side, was looking at me with big surprise in his eyes. Understandably, It’s pretty much all foreign to him. I, though, was trying to persuade him that the business and the people associating with that business, those days, (students, teachers and associates), were far more profound in they're thinking and their actions along with their thinking and their conduct. They did respect the structure associated with our business then.

I can not recall anybody at that time who would be asking for reduced tuition fees or trying to impose their own rules onto our music institution. On that note , in Russia, they have a saying:

"Don’t come to somebody else’s church with your own prayer".

Nowadays, and almost 3 decades later, people do exactly that. They come with their own rules and regulations and impose and  demand from us bargains and discounts of all sorts.

Moreover, lately, they announce out loud that in their opinion, our vocal program is too ELITE for them, and that they have no intention to become professional singers and therefore, even our junior instructors price, which is 1/5th of my own designed for a professional use course price, is too much for them, as  they look for a cheap bargain and are being absolutely not concerned about any quality of our instruction and expertise on whichever level/junior or senior.

By the way, with respect of the price for the junior instructors trained by me, I have to note that we have not changed the price for at least the last 20 years. And we are teaching the Vocal Science (TM) method which is not available anywhere in the world! The prices for the junior instructors, however, are the same, or even less, then in any of the regular vocal schools.

Go figure!

The moral of it is;
Nowadays, people are concerned not about what they have acquired as a product, and not the quality of it, but how much they are paying for it, and wether or not they can get by somewhat using it for various reasons.

How sad is that?

The quality food, the quality services, the quality music, singing, acting, and etc, are bargained down to the absolute bottom.

All of that suggests that our society with all of the greatest technology and supposed progress forward, degraded severely and going down that road rapidly.

I hope that it is not bottomless though, and thus, my hope is that when the todays’ society reaches the absolute bottom, then, by the law of physics, it will bounce back like a boomerang and bring all of us back on top and hopefully, on even higher ground then we once had been to begin with.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Vocally Speaking - Why Fix it if it ain't Broken?

Being a vocal coach/consultant and non-surgical voice repair specialist, I fixed and restored a lot of voices in my span of 38 years of teaching. Granted, all of these singers and speakers came either with broken voices or with their ordinary voices, which I was able to bring to the new heights. I never in my practice, took a person with an already good voice and natural talent and tried to make him or her anything else, but what the God gave them originally. If it ain't broken, why fix it? However, I see several artists who were discovered on various talent shows and who were absolutely fine, until some vocal coaching took place and then, their voices became unrecognizable. Let's take a look at Susan Boyle's discovery If you compare to how she sounded while singing the famous "I Dream a Dream" song during Britian's Got Talent in 2009 and then watch her on the Oprah show where she outright choked on her own voice, and then, even after the fact, she never regained the beautiful voice she once had. She's even reluctant to show up at the end of the play, which is called "I Dream a Dream" and which I personally watched and liked it very much. The only time I was disappointed was when I expected to see Susan Boyle live, as per promise by the producers, she had to perform with the very song "I Dream a Dream" and I believe a couple of others, and she never showed up. The story behind it was that she did not get served fast enough with her coffee in Burger King and thus, was too frustrated to sing...? When my husband and I came out of the show on the street, we were questioned by outsiders whether or not Susan was there and performing. Somebody commented, "She's never there. We've been seeing several of those musicals about her and she only showed up once." The question is, has she ever gotten served right at the Burger King? (lol) Personally, I think she lost her confidence in her voice, while being intervened with several vocal coaches and their techniques. She's gotten confused and now emotionally disturbed, as she intuitively understands that she is not the same as she once was and she does not know how to get back to what she once was. How sad is that? And now, recently, being tired after my work day, I kind of snoozed on my couch at home in front of the TV set. I woke up out of some familiar singing, which happened to be of Jackie Evancho's, broadcasted by WNED Buffalo station. She apparently had her own concert there to recite. Honestly, I could hardly recognize the once beautiful, wide open, bright and absolutely sensational for the little 10 year old girl, voice. I remember very well her triumph on America's Got Talent. It was almost hard to believe that a 10 year old girl could sound like an accomplished, minimum to say 35 year old, opera singer. For whichever reason, today her voice sounds very dark, very deep and very thick. She's obviously struggling with her voice and especially the high range. She's using her head excessively, trying to extract the sound she was once familiar with and was able to produce absolutely effortlessly. You are welcome to compare the year 2010 and today's in 2012 performances. You have to be deaf not to hear the difference and unfortunately, the difference shows in a negative light. The question is, who "fixed it" and why, if it never had been broken and now, evidently, is?