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You've Been Boondoggled: How Colleges Set Up Voice Majors for Pedagogical Failure

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

This article is reprinted from the VASTA Voice, May 2018

Many graduates of university programs in voice, notably those with degrees in vocal performance, voice and speech, and acting, become self-employed. We soldier forward into our area of interest with the intent to be professionals. We avoid the 9-to-5 so we can pursue our art. Often we cobble together a living from two or three (or more) different professional roles. Teaching is nearly always one of them.

Winging It

Typically, we come to our self-employed status with little or no training on how to be self-employed professionals. We start taking private students in singing, speech, or acting because of the flexibility it affords us. We carry with us our own experiences as students, and the models our own teachers showed us. Our teaching is, however conscious of it we are, informed strongly by the teaching we received. We create an environment in our own studios based on the way we were, or were not, treated by our teachers. We carry forward the values and emphases we learned as students because we were taught that those are correct.

Among the many subjects pertaining to being self-employed educators that are not addressed in our post-secondary education is that of the pedagogical differences between our situations as self-employed professionals and our college instructors’ situations as university employees. I believe that being conscious of those differences can make self-employed teachers more effective educators, as well as help us take full advantage of our unique position in the world of the arts.