As of today, I’ve been home, in Chicago, for a month.
In October I visited Poland to attend the 1st World Voice Teacher’s Expo, a professional conference for voice teachers. It was billed as an event for “all modern vocal techniques.”
“Why would you go all the way to Poland for a professional conference, Meredith”? asked Everyone.
I know. It seems a little bit nuts.
What’s even more nuts, though, was that it was the first professional conference I’ve been to in my 30 years of teaching. I just never wanted to attend professional conferences for voice teachers. It's always seem to me that those events weren't for me and my kind.
I am an earnest and curious teacher of CCM (contemporary commercial music). I have always been. I do not profess to be able to teach classical voice. I love classical singing, but I don’t do it, so I don’t teach it. I’ve logged my 10,000 as a professional singer, and so I’m very aware of the real world of the working singer. As a teacher, I’ve always worked backward from the endgame – what do great singers do and how do they do it - rather than forward from the way things should be, according to generally accepted standards and practices of voice education.
When I got the information about the 1st World Voice Teacher’s Expo, I was excited to learn more. Hosted by Warsaw power couple Andres Martorell and Magda Navarrete, the 4-day event attracted voice teachers from more than ten countries. Andres told me they had gone out on a limb in deciding to run the conference, and he was pleased with the outcome.
So was I. Vocal method teachers were representing Estill, Complete Vocal Institute, the Institute for Vocal Advancement, MDH Breathing Coordination, and Common Sense Singing. There were sessions on teaching style, teaching without burnout, and teaching professional speakers, among others. I was in Voice Nerd Heaven. But beyond just the ideas being presented, and the talented teachers I was being exposed to, I loved the whole notion of the conference.
Andres loves fusion. He sings tangos and Irish music. In the same concert. He also believes that there are other singers who enjoy exploring how disparate ideas, with common threads, can come together to create something richer than what had existed before. I couldn’t agree more.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve been thinking about how to do something like the World Voice Teacher’s Expo in the U.S. Usually, when I obsess about something for this long, I have to take action on it. I’ll keep you posted.
I’m grateful to Andres and Magda for their vision, determination, and integrity. Attending their event inspired and elevated me as teacher. Hanging out with committed, crazy voice teachers for four days fed my soul.
After 30 years, I think it was time…