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  • Writer's pictureTim Braithwaite

Roger Freitas on Modern Representations of Historical Singing:

‘To many in the singing profession, in fact, an investigation of past approaches seems irrelevant. Even a casual survey of recent pedagogical literature confirms what I was always taught in my own vocal training, namely, that “proper” technique is based on timeless physiological truths. Indeed, these writings often link modern medical terminology with (selective) references to ‘bel canto’ treatises in a move designed both to authenticate and to universalize the approach.[2]...

[2] Examples of this approach can most easily be found throughout the work of Richard Miller, one of the most visible vocal pedagogues today, with several books and a regular column in The Journal of Singing: The Official Journey of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. A real expert on the physiology of singing, Miller also regularly invokes the “Italian School”, with frequent quotations of Francesco Lamperti. However, Lamperti’s instructions, along with those of even more seminal members of the “Italian school” such as Manuel Garcia, are cited only when they appear to support modern approaches; for example, Miller specifically rejects any movement of the larynx or lack of vibrato....

[34] Miller, National Schools, 92: “Beyond a slight downward movement in inhalation, the larynx lies relatively quiescent throughout the breath cycle... Nor must the larynx be allowed to rise and fall with pitch changes or with register transitions.” This view is reiterated in Miller, The Structure, 59...’

I’d be interested in what the members of this group think of Freitas’ commentary? It’s perhaps a little harsh and I wonder if pedagogy has progressed in the twenty years since, but I’m not entirely sure it’s an unfair comment...



Roger Freitas, “Towards a Verdian Ideal of Singing: Emancipation from Modern Orthodoxy,” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 127, no. 2 (2002): 226–57.

Richard Miller, National Schools of Singing: A Study in National Tonal Preferences and How They Relate to Functional Efficiency (Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1977). 92

Richard C Miller, The Structure of Singing : System and Art in Vocal Technique (Boston: Schirmer, 2013). 59


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