A clear statement of the goals to be reached should preface any approach to the study of singing. The single most important purpose in the training of a singing voice should be to develop or make possible the development of the utmost potential of that voice.
The ultimate goal to be reached is the ability to sing the literature for a particular type of voice – soprano, mezzo, or contralto; tenor, baritone or bass.
Vocal literature in itself sets up the goals or objectives for the singer to reach: quality, diction, agility, dynamic control, range, interpretation and style, and good vocal condition.
The technical goals or objectives involved in singing are as follows:
Normal quality – a ringing, resonant tone with a “cover” of beauty and a “metal” or point which carries or projects.
A diction that is understandable without sacrificing quality.
Agility – the ability to sing rapid and florid passages and difficult intervals.
Dynamic control – the ability to sing three gradations of loudness: pianissimo, mezzo piano, or mezzo forte or forte; and the ability to sing the messa di voce, from soft to loud and back to soft again through at least the lower three fourths of the singing range.
Range – the ability to sing approximately two octaves’ range above the average normal pitch of the speaking voice.
Interpretation – the ability to change from the normal quality to other qualities for emotional effect.
Vocal hygiene – a technique of singing that not only tends to keep the voice in good condition but also tends to develop the voice to greater possibilities.
The goals and objectives are usually taken for granted, and yet they can be used as a measuring stick for a student’s progress. Singing teachers hardly ever mention them. Most students when asked, “WHY are you studying singing?” can seldom give a straightforward answer.
There are other goals or objectives that one can list in addition to the literature and the technical goals.
Usually students of singing are interested in fields of singing, such as radio, church, concert, light opera, opera, and television, before they know where they will fit in vocally. In some instances, radio, for example, a vocal coach would be more helpful.
Many people are interested in singing for the enjoyment singing gives them. Many of these pride themselves on the fact that they just sing and know nothing about the technique of singing or how to read vocal music and don’t want to know.
Others take singing lessons to improve their speaking voices, or to develop self confidence and poise, or for a keener appreciation of the art of singing and singers and of music in general.
The study of singing is thought by many to improve not only physical health by the practice of deep breathing, but also mental health by the emotional release and enjoyment singing affords; to strengthen and quicken the mental processes; to bring about good posture; and to develop personality. Perhaps the practice of singing should do all of these things, but there is considerable question whether it does, unless a relationship is brought out between singing and these objectives.
The singing teacher can easily justify his work as a singing teacher on emotional, mental, physical and personality grounds, but usually his approach is an artistic one. To some teachers, singing is an art and not a science; to others if is predominantly a science; and to still others, it is both an art and a science.
The modern singing teacher, if he is to keep step with the advances and discoveries in all fields related to singing and the teaching of singing, must combine the artistic and the scientific approaches. He must also suggest goals and objectives, such as those suggested above, for his singing student.