UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Li, Xin
Thesis (M.A.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Chia, Wei Khuan
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

Western Classical Singing was introduced to China at the beginning of 20th century. Today, many Chinese singers have gained international recognition and status. Many believe that there are likely many contributing factors which lead to such overwhelming successes. The purpose of this study is to ask the questions: “How are Chinese singers trained?”, and “How do the Chinese voice teachers teach?” In this study, this writer explored the training and pedagogical approaches adopted by prominent Chinese voice teachers, particularly in the training of the female singing registers and range extension. The study started with a review of related literature on how prominent American voice teachers were approached to discuss the teaching of singing and how interviews could be utilized as a research tool in the field of vocal pedagogy, thereby replicating the research approach found in Elizabeth Blades-Zeller’s A Spectrum of Voices (2002). Then the procedures outlined in the literature review were summarized and used as a general guideline for conducting the interviews with the Chinese voice teachers. Next, this author conducted extensive interviews with prominent voice teachers in three field trips to seven major conservatories in China. The interviews were organized into five topics: (1) the general description of register; (2) the number of registers in voice; (3) the value of falsetto; (4) technical treatment; and, (5) blending of the registers. These non-biased interviews collectively provided evidence on some of the prevailing pedagogical approaches adopted and practiced by the voice teachers in China. The data acquired from the interviews were analyzed using the guidelines outlined. Thirdly, the writer provided a comparison of the register concepts advocated by the voice teachers in China and those in the United States in order to find out how different and similar the training and pedagogical approaches are. The five areas listed in the above paragraph were thoroughly compared and analyzed based on the pedagogical methodologies identified from the interviews and literature. With a detailed study of relevant literature, extensive rounds of interviews and methodical comparison, the writer concluded: although teaching of singing can be regarded as rather subjective, especially when there is a wide spectrum of views, the Chinese teachers are adopting a way that is generally in alignment with the teaching methods of the Western teachers with some customized alternatives to fit the local environments and targeted students. This writer believes that this publication is perhaps the first time that vocal pedagogues outside China are given an opportunity to understand how voice teachers in China train their students.

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