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Singing: Personal and performance values in training

Peter T Harrison, Malcolm Martineau

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Product Details
14 Nov 2013
Dunedin Academic Press
263 pages - 234 x 156mm
What is it in singing that makes for high quality, deeply moving performances? Quality and depth, vocal stability, and stamina all depend on firm foundations being laid at the outset of a singer's development. The key to truly effective procedures of serious voice training and the best model of singers' education is the recognition and understanding of the unique nature of the singing instrument.

Compared with other musicians, a singer begins serious study relatively late. Even at institutions of higher education a singer begins work with only a partially formed instrument. It is development of this most personal instrument that forms the focus of Peter T. Harrison's book. These factors are among those that present the complex challenges for singers that are unique in the musical training world. They also give rise to searching ethical questions.

To date no science or methodology has been able to prevent a growing existential crisis regarding what the author perceives to be declining standards and values in both training and performance. The author maintains that, while the primary responsibility for setting standards and effective curricula lies with the musical institutions, what constitutes excellence in singing, and what is required to achieve it, are in urgent need of clarification. He proposes a progressive training model that arises logically from holistic principles.

A sequel to The Human Nature of the Singing Voice, in which the author explored a holistic basis for teaching and learning this is a challenging book, addressed to all those who have responsibility for singers' voices, not least singers themselves. In so doing Peter T. Harrison addresses substantial ethical issues.
Note to the Reader. Preface. Introduction.
PART I The Singing Voice. 1: Defining and Identifying the Singing Voice; 2. The Holistic (or Whole) Perspective; 3. Physical Structure (Anatomy and Physiology) ; 4. Beautiful Singing (Bel Canto); 5. Individual Identity; 6. Communication; 7. False Perspectives and Misperceptions.
PART II – The Work. 8. Introduction; 9. The Voice; 10. Music (Singing); 11. Physical Expression (Acting) ; 12. Language (Text); 13. Performance; 14. Supporting Cast.
PART III – Conditions. 15. Instrumental Differences; 16. Environment and Attitude; 17. Ethos; 18. Process ; 19. Systems and Organisation;
PART IV – The Enshrining of Values. 20. Education; 21. Pupils; 22. Co-operation; 23. Excellence; 24. Measures of Progress ; 25. Consensus; 26. Leading the Way; 27. Ethical Matters.
Appendices. Endnotes. Bibliography.
Peter T Harrison developed an early interest in vocal pedagogy and has taught for the Royal Academy, the London Opera Centre and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Peter was also an advisor to the British Voice Association when it began as the Voice Research Society in 1986. For some 40 years he has conducted workshops around the world for singers and, more recently, for their teachers. As a writer and freelance teacher, Peter T. Harrison now divides his time between studios in Amsterdam and the Iberian Peninsula.

'Singing is the most passionate form of conscious verbalised communication in the human species. It is therefore appropriate that a book on the singing voice be filled with passion – and this book is. Singing: Personal and performance values in Training is not for the faint hearted or those looking for a middle road. It is not a follow-by-numbers instruction book or a scientifically based explanation of the singing voice. It is a bold and decisive statement in which Peter Harrison puts pen to a deeply personal manifesto – an unashamed call to arms of what he feels should be occurring in the psyche, the mind, the heart and the life of every singing pedagogue. ln every page there is a heartfelt claim about the singing voice: the condition and needs of the singer; the appetites of the listening public that shape the singing landscape; the common science that informs and can mislead, the singing teachers and institutions; or, the meaning of what it is to sing. Myths are challenged, sacred cows threatened, and the gauntlet thrown down to many deeply held beliefs... this book is well overdue in the singing literature as it places the need of the singer, or singing student, at the centre. It challenges singing pedagogues to take moral inventory of their motives, the ethics of their behaviour their attachments to schools of teaching, their knowledge of the vocal system, the place and use of science in an artistic expression that is fundamentally individual and unique. Harrison acknowledges that the reason we sing is to communicate the heightened emotion and passion that only the sung message can convey. Whether you agree with him or not - if you read, and reflect upon, his words you'll be a better singing teacher for it.'
Communicating Voice, British Voice Association

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