The June/July issue of Choral Journal features a special article for the On the Voice series. Sharon Hansen has been a member of the Choral Journal editorial board and editor of the On the Voice article series for many years and writes about the history of On the Voice in Choral Journal, past practices, and a look toward the future.
Following is a section of the article, which you can read in full in the June/July 2017 issue, along with any citation references for her statistics and research. ACDA members can log in with their username and password to view and download the newest edition. You can also read our electronic version. If you are not already a member of ACDA, join today to start receiving your monthly Choral Journal! Associate members can join for only $45 a year.
With an examination of website information from eighty-four significant undergraduate music education programs selected from among the fifty states, I searched for specific choral music education program requirements in private voice, vocal pedagogy, and diction. Of the eighty-four universities I surveyed, fourteen did not have specific information available on the web, eight did not have a music education major, and one did not have a music major. This left sixty-one universities with the music education major and course work listed on the web.
Of the sixty-one universities with web information, 96.9% of the universities surveyed required between six and eight semesters of private lessons. Teacher training programs are doing well there. But choral music education majors are being certified to teach classroom voice, meaning they need solid pedagogical and diction tools. Only 38% of the universities surveyed required even a single course in diction; shockingly, 62.3% required none. In this day and age of multicultural music, in which choral directors regularly are called upon to teach diverse choral repertoire in multiple languages, the fact that 62.3% of the universities surveyed did not equip their students with even the rudimentary tools of an introductory course in diction, where students learn the International Phoenetic Alphabet (IPA), is incomprehensible.
Likewise, only 39.5% of the universities surveyed required a single course in vocal pedagogy; another shocking 61% required none. There are so many requirements imposed by state Departments of Education that it is often quite difficult to make curricular changes. However, music education majors who are state certified to teach voice in the choral classroom and conduct choirs deserve to be given the tools they need (voice lessons, diction, and vocal pedagogy) that will equip them for a strenuous life of professional voice use themselves, as well as enable them to serve their students knowledgeably in vocal teaching and care. It is clear that there is much work to be done to bring curricular requirements in line with the skills vocal music education majors need for twenty-first-century careers. …
So what does the future hold for the choral profession? Are choral conductors ready to accept that they comprise a profession whose prime métier is work with the voice? The resources are there, and most of the time, are easily accessed on line. So as a profession, what can we do better? We can insure that ACDA places consistent levels of emphasis on voice awareness in its conventions and publications. We can work to improve the relationship that exists between voice teachers and choral directors and NATS. More choral directors need to be members of NATS and more voice teachers members of ACDA so that dialogue between the private voice teacher and the classroom voice teacher continues…
The end result will be a nation of choral singers with healthy, vibrant voices—singing beautifully their entire lives.