When Singing Becomes Knowing: Developing Self-knowledge Through Vocal Pedagogy

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Anderson, Marie
Self-Knowledge , Singing , Spirituality , Vocal Pedagogy
The purpose of this research was to explore vocal pedagogy that places development of self-knowledge at the center of the investigation. I looked at the personal growth that occurred as a result of the distinctive qualities inherent in singing lessons that included spiritual practices. The goal for unity of body, mind, and spirit in performance bears a close resemblance to the basic meditative practices of mastery through repetition, intense listening, and deep connective breathing that have been used for thousands of years in all mystical traditions. The singing studio is a place where self-discovery can be encouraged and held with respect. This exploration examined vocal pedagogy as a means to finding one’s personal voice. Little literature exists on voice and self-knowledge, and a search for relevant sources revealed that there appears to be no professional training available in the area of voice and self-knowledge, although many people appear to be developing their own strategies for this purpose. My own experience and practice as a voice teacher with a strong spiritual identity, places me as someone who may benefit from further information about voice and self-development. The study consisted of two phases. Phase one consisted of interviews with three educators who use singing lessons as a tool for development of self-knowledge. The findings of these interviews informed phase two, which was a series of ten singing lessons given to one female adult student who had requested a type of singing study that would promote self-knowledge. The lessons used both traditional vocal techniques and spiritual practices. I discovered that the use of spiritual practice combined with traditional vocal technique deepened the experience of the lessons and enhanced every aspect of my traditional vocal pedagogy. Research that involved the researcher and the process of research so intimately allowed a pedagogy to emerge that is responsive, deliberately non-linear, in which curriculum is shaped dialogically by both student and teacher in an intimate evolving relationship.
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