Academic journal article Journal of Singing

75 Years Wealth of Knowledge for Collabs as Well as Singers

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

75 Years Wealth of Knowledge for Collabs as Well as Singers

Article excerpt

Since collaborative pianists have been proud members of NATS for probably less than ten of its 75 years, when Journal of Singing Editor in Chief Richard Sjoerdsma suggested to all his associate editors and column managers that we look to the written history of The Bulletin and the Journal of Singing for topics or reprints to present in this special anniversary issue, I assumed I would not find articles suitable for reprinting in "Collab Corner." After all, with two earlier exceptions, our field has been taught as a part of our country's curricular offerings for only 40-ish years, and, at that, in relatively few schools until the last 20-ish years.

Was I ever wrong! I could choose many excellent articles to reprint here, in their entirety, all of which address, spot on, issues for and skills crucial to vocal coaches and accompanists. Truly, all NATS members who have been, as I was, remiss in getting to know well this treasure trove of 75 years of printed knowledge, should wait no longer. Containing now nearly 5,000 entries from more than 800 authors, the Journal Online Index, found on the NATS website, is relatively easy to navigate; it allows access by keyword, author, title, partial title, year, and month. Written by members of NATS as well as a who's who of internationally noted guests, scholars, applied voice teachers, otolaryngologists, linguists, lyric diction teachers, musicologists, composers, and now collaborative pianists and vocal coaches, there are articles on vocal technique, performance practice in opera and song, languages, lyric diction, voice science, interviews with noted singers, reviews (books, music, and recordings), and much more. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to those who have volunteered to build and manage this large and important bibliographic tool. John Bürgin, former NATS President and author of Teaching Singing, originally created the index, now managed by Dr. Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk. Even the cursory readings I have done of the entire index have provided me a sense of proud belonging and a deep respect for NATS and this literary legacy. Leaders (some of them "the giants" of NATS, to use Editor Sjoerdsma's word), authors, and column managers from the past, like Karl Trump, William Vennard, Dale Gilliland, Radiana Pazmor, Weldon Whitlock, and many others whose names sounded vaguely familiar to me not long ago, are now people who have "spoken" to me through their many probing and superb articles. The proud history of NATS is revealed in their every word. Through my initial readings of several articles of similar topics by authors of dissimilar persuasion, I have, as a treasured parallel, gathered precious cultural knowledge of the changes these 75 years have brought. In scanning and reading each issue's titles and many of the actual articles, I have become acutely aware of an impressive 75 year evolution in performance practice, teaching methodology, recital programming, and other issues of interest to us all. These 75 years have produced much change, the record of which, along with an incredible library, is made available, even downloadable, to each of us. What a gift!

But back to some collaborative piano issues. There is not found a title as obvious as "Accompanists" until October of 1963 (The NATS Bulletin XX, no.1 [October 1963]: 12); it was provided by Weldon Whitlock in one of 19 superb articles he wrote between 1959 and 1973. As a noted concert singer and author of two books on operatic arias, everything this singer wrote in The Bulletin or its successors is of importance to the collab. Whitlock's articles, as well as both of his books, read like the work of a skilled accompanist (I cannot believe he was not, in fact, an accompanist) and deal with our issues. His observations are astute and come, obviously, out of long personal experience, but are always of his time. Here is a small excerpt that I offer because it has provided me so much thoughtful musing.

The accompanist must never rush the singer. …

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