Today we welcome back Matt Edwards and Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards.

This week on A Voice and Beyond, we continue with part two of our most informative interview with Matt Edwards and Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards. If you haven’t already listened to part 1, please go listen to episode #99 where we introduce our discussion into some of the important and crucial discoveries that Matt and Jacqulyn have made during their ongoing research into the roots of the academic bias against popular music education.

In today’s fascinating episode, Matt and Jacqlyn delve even further into the history of classism and racism that was evident in American society during the late 19th century and into most of the 20th century. Matt and Jacqlyn explain that the curricular recommendations of the National Association of Schools of Music are still built on those 19th and 20th-century beliefs, and these recommendations are now irrelevant and outdated. It is time to start thinking about the world we live in now, and the students we are serving now. They believe it is time to diversify and we, as teachers in the voice community, can make a difference and we can lead the charge toward initiating change, updating curricula and creating new pathways within academic systems. Matt and Jacqlyn affirm that we, the voice teaching community, are the ones who need to have open and welcoming conversations about the future of popular music education because academia is not set up to figure this out. There are many other great recommendations, important facts and brilliant pieces of advice shared within this episode around the teaching of popular music styles, or CCM as we know it. You do not want to miss it.

Please remember this is a two-part interview of our fascinating and most informative discussion with Matt Edwards and Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards and you can find part one in episode number 99.

In this Episode

1:15 – Welcoming back Matt and Jacqlyn

13:18 – Students being told “they’ll be able to sing anything”

24:01 – Student centred learning

34:20 – The forums on social media

37:38 – Higher Education

42:30 – Listening to your students

48:43 – Teaching students the music they want to learn


Dr Marisa Lee Naismith is excited to announce the release of her new book “Singing Contemporary Commercial Music Styles: A Pedagogical Framework” published by Compton Publications UK. Marisa offers this book as a starting point and as CCM markets continue to evolve, she encourages that we, as a voice community, continue to evolve, debate and communally add to this framework.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:00

Hi it’s Marissa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. In these episodes, our brilliant lineup of guests will include healthcare practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialised fields to empower you to live your best life. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. It’s time now to share your gift with others develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, it’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:15

This week, on a voice and beyond, we continue with part two of our most informative interview with Matt Edwards, and Jacqueline Zito Edwards. If you haven’t already listened to part one. Please go and listen to episode number 99, where we introduce our discussion into some of the most important and crucial discoveries that Matt and Jacqueline have made during their ongoing research into the roots of academic bias against popular music. In today’s fascinating episode, Matt and Jacqueline explain that the curricular recommendations of the National Association of Schools of Music are still based on those 19th and 20th century beliefs. And these recommendations are now irrelevant and outdated. It is time to start thinking about the world we live in now. The students we are serving now, and how we can best serve those students. Now. They believe it is time to diversify. And we as teachers in the voice community can make a difference. And we can lead the charge towards initiating change, updating curricula and creating new pathways within Academic systems. Matt and Jacqueline affirm that we the voice teaching community are the ones who need to have open and welcoming conversations about the future of popular music education, because academia is not set up to figure this out. There are many other great recommendations, important facts and brilliant pieces of advice shared within this episode around the teaching of popular music styles, or CCM as we know it, you do not want to miss this. Please remember, this is part two of our fascinating and most informative discussion with Matt Edwards, and Jacqueline Zito Edwards. And you can find part one in episode number 99. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:56

also, too, you know, we’re talking about culture by but by alienating so much of the music that has been alienated in the US, isn’t that alienating American culture as well? Yeah,

Matt Edwards  04:12

it is

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:13

and makes no sense.

Matt Edwards  04:16

But and this is again, this is why we wanted to come and talk about this as I think that we are not in the mindset of the people are intentionally sitting there at home be like who I’m going to suppress all these things. They’re not sitting around deciding intense press these things. No, they everybody in academia, we all went through a bachelor’s, a masters and a doctorate where we learned all of these things we studied. I have my bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate all in classical music. I study classical music theory all the way through. I appreciate it. I actually really like it. It’s like my puzzle that’s fun for me. It’s not a tool as toolset that my rock singers need they need to know how to run a doll. They need to know how to sit down with logic and track out a song and how to write a song. They also need to understand what a pentatonic scale Yeah, they got to also think outside of a carrion analogy, right?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:04

Yes, yes. So

Matt Edwards  05:05

the problem is, though, is that, you know, so many people went through and never got any of the tools to help these students. So we’re also kind of stuck, which is where you know, we’re stuck in this world where we have faculty who have not been given the tools to teach this music, we have an accreditation system, which requires you to have a doctorate to teach this music. And yet, there’s only one doctorate in the United States for voice teachers where you can go and learn how to teach whatever it is that you want to teach. And that’s the Shannon doll.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:35

Yes, I know. I’m always singing your praises, by the way, I always do. I always I knowledge, I acknowledge what you’re doing well, but at the university,

Matt Edwards  05:50

I would like to be one of 100. Just to put it on the record, I would love to one day be one of 100 universities. And I hope that that one day is where we are. But it was not an easy road. And there’s a lot of questions. Well, how are we going to do this? And I kept saying, we’re going to do it the first music schools did and figure it out. How are you going to evaluate a rapper who wants to get a doctorate? I don’t know. We’ll figure it out. Exactly. Because that’s what you do when you’re trying to innovate, you figure it out as it comes. And that’s hard. Academia is not set up to figure it out. Academia is set up to follow precedent. And so we’re lucky that I’ve got an amazing administration that lets us push the boundaries. And I’ve got amazing colleagues who look at it and who may be like, Look, this isn’t my thing. But I get that it’s your thing, go do it. Give us permission to go play and they vote for it. And they approve these initiatives that we want to go and we move forward. And I’m just bringing that up, though, because it’s not easy. And it doesn’t happen quickly. And we can’t break the system until we start creating these new degrees has other great people who are doing this work. There’s other people who have doctorates who are teaching CCM, but they had to go and get like an education doctorate and write a dissertation on educational methods, they had to go get, you know, other doctoral degrees without being able to go through the voice pathway to get the credential they needed to get hired in academia. And that limitation of that doctorate slows everything down for the role of progress. And that’s why we’re kind of like in the stalemate, where we’re just kind of stuck is because we don’t have people with the qualifications to teach the thing that I think a growing number of us realise needs to be taught. Well, that’s

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  07:31

what, yeah, there’s quite a number of comments I want to make based on everything that you’ve just said, I’ll just rattle these off, and then in no particular order, but what you were talking about that was happening in New York, during the Industrial Revolution was also happening in the UK, the people that were listening to this music creating this music that was not classical music were deemed to be savages, also, so it’s not just in the US. I’m also very fortunate to be teaching in, in a programme at an institution where we do have CCM vocal pedagogy. In fact, my PhD was in researching CCM. And what people don’t realise that a caught up in this system in this Eurocentric hierarchy is an I can I can speak about this, because of my own experiences is that I had a fully fledged Korea from many years for a number of decades as a pop rock singer. And it was my only means of income. In fact, and I talk about this often, at one stage, I was doing 11 gigs a week, and I did that for three months. I put my daughter through a private school education, I paid off my home, I was supporting her as a single mom, it was the only thing that I did. And I was making a lot of money. I didn’t even know as someone that was working in the industry, that this was even a thing till I went to university. So what people need to get out of their heads is people in this world can survive without University. You don’t need to have classical training to get a job because I tell you what, if I had have gone to university and been exposed to this classical music and told that this is the only way you can train to be a singer, I would not be sitting here now. Without a doubt I would not because my love was I was so passionate about pop and rock music from the age of five. There was nothing else that exists existed in my world. It was not it was just even how it made me feel I did this music was just made me feel so good. It made me come to life. I was not going to sing classical music. So I would never have had the career path that I’ve had. And when you talk about the numbers falling across music programmes in the US, obviously, they’re these programmes are starting to become outdated in terms of what students are wanting. So they’re not responding to the demands of music markets, the needs of students. Are the students themselves now discovering that they don’t need to go there? Or is why are they not enrolling in these programmes?

Matt Edwards  10:51

I don’t know. I think there’s a whole other line of research that needs to be done. I my speculation from talking to them. And you know, a lot of it is is that yeah, they if they go in, they do their college tour. And they discover that, you know, that’s their only pathway. Some of them look at that and go, but I don’t want to do that. And so they don’t do it. You know, for me, I come from a working class family. My dad is a factory worker, my mom was a teacher, but she was a stay at home mother. So she had gone to college. But it was she was out of that element. When I was trying to go to college myself. My grandfather was a factory worker with an eighth grade education. And him and my dad were bound and determined that I was going to college period. So you’re right. You don’t have to have that. But when you come from a lower income family, there’s something about being realising that college can be a step up the financial wrong, it still proves true in the United States that a college degree earner earns I think it’s 66% More over the course of life a million dollars more. And so you know, that is still a thing. And so there are people like me who I was going to college one way or another or I was moving out the day, I graduated high school. So I was going to college. I like I was like, What are you going to major in? Well, I had a 2.6 GPA in high school. So my options were pretty much limited 2.6 If you don’t know that’s a C average. And okay, average, it’s pretty. I had lots of D’s and F’s

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:21

passed, I still passed all kinds

Matt Edwards  12:23

of academic awards when you get into college. But so but I was not. So there’s nothing else I could do. And I was like, I’ve got to do music. That’s my only pathway. And when I was told the only pathway for me to do that was classical. And I was like, Okay, I guess that’s what I’ll do it. But that’s, that shouldn’t be our goal to enrol people for whom they see that as their only option. And that’s why we’re saying we just need seats at the table. It’s what you’re saying, we need room for the person for whom something else is their passion. There are still kids out there I meet them, for whom Mozart, Puccini Verdi is the dream. That’s how they communicate the human experience their song,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:02

and that’s okay. Okay,

Matt Edwards  13:05

we should help educate them to the absolute best that we possibly can. But when we meet the student for whom that is not the passion, we need to start creating some other pathways for them to find success. And

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  13:18

those those students still exist, the students who come to school, and they’re told that when they get a vocal performance degree, that they’ll be able to sing all the things that they want to. And I met one of those students actually, here at HSU Am I allowed to talk? She was an incoming freshman who came in and

Matt Edwards  13:39

they had been told before they got here, that they’ve

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  13:41

could just sing the things they want. And then she gets into the book performance degree. And I was asking it, it was just a it’s like a forum for freshmen. And I, we all the students meet together, and it’s all the different disciplines are together. And so they split it up amongst different teachers. And in the group that this one student was in this student was the only one that was there for vocal performance. So I said, Well, you know, of the shows that of all the performances you all are going to for the semester, can you be the the classical or the opera, expert, or specialist? And the student looks at me and says, No, and I said, well, but you’re here for vocal performance. And the student looks at me and says, I’d never seen classically before I came here. I sang in choir, but I sing a lot of pop rock, I sing r&b, I sang popular music, that’s what I was singing. But I’m hearing vocal performance. And I just looked at the student I said, Okay, do you want to stay in vocal performance? Like what’s the what’s the plan here? And the student says, I’m actually planning on trying to transfer into possibly the it’s the C membership and social music degree Yes, I said, if you need help with it, I can help you try to help like with any of the people you need to talk to, or whatever, and the student is going to try to transfer into it. But that still happens. Yeah. And yes, hold, it’s still being told in high schools, your high school choir directors are still telling their students, yes, performance, and you’ll be able to sing all the things. And that’s not true on a football player to go to basketball, and you’ll be able to do all the things.

Matt Edwards  15:25

And the thing is, is this like, this still exists, but like in our professional forums that are on social media, some of the Facebook forums that we all belong to, that population is not of that mindset. So they’re not seeing it yet. Those of us who are auditioning people, they’ll say, Well, that’s not the way that it is anymore. And I agree in that circle, it’s not so much that way anymore. But there are 30,000 voice teachers in this country. And there’s only like 7000 members of one of the forums. So there’s 23,000 teachers out there, or 20,000, there’s probably at least that are not in the forum. And I meet their students when I teach workshops, and they’re still being told the same thing. I meet people all the time and say, Well, I want to be a musical theatre I want to perform on Broadway, which is why I came to your raw, you know, pop rock workshop for musical theatre, but I’m majoring in voice performance. And I look at them and go, Why are you majoring in voice performance because I need a classical foundation in order to have a career. I have to tell yes, this is the wrong move. And it’s the wrong move. for lots of reasons, not just the voice, it’s the wrong move. Because the acting style for opera is completely different than musical theatre. The dance that’s in the opera, which is the waltz, if you’re lucky, is completely different than tap jazz and ballet that they need a musical theatre and the skill set, they need to work through the Golden Age rep to contemporary rep and the pop rock and musical theatre takes four years just to get started with, let alone get a degree in classical voice and then try to jump into it. So unfortunately, there’s still students that are being guided down this pathway, that’s a pathway that’s going to roadblock them, that student who tells me well, I’m going to and we know friends whose kids have been told this who are then their kids are going to major in, in classical music, they’re going to struggle. I know, because I work with these people all day, every day. I know the agents and casting directors that cast these shows, and that’s not what they’re looking for. They don’t want it, there’s

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:20

there seems to be two problems as far as I can figure out. One is that the teachers themselves are perpetuating the problem at hand. And that is now filtering through to that some of the students as well. And I’ll just give you an example of what I mean, is that my students in the popular music programme, the victims of some of the backlash of this hierarchy, that they have comments made to them, like, Oh, you’re the pop kids? Do you guys actually sing? Do you have singing lessons? And some of them heard my students, they went on you, you guys are actually good. Okay. So that’s got to be coming from the teaching. Because at 18, these kids, they’ve got to have heard it from somewhere. They’re the new generation coming through. The other problem is education institutions. I know you talked about that organisation that creates the curriculum. But even if we didn’t have that problem, I know that at the moment, there are only four institutions in the US that have CCM vocal pedagogy at a masters or a doctoral level, is that correct? Used to be three. But you told me now that there’s four,

Matt Edwards  18:56

right around four, there may be one, okay, there’s Yeah, they’re starting to catch on.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  19:00

Okay, let’s just say even if there was six, now you have 30,000 teachers, six institutions that offer training. So even if teachers are trying to do their best, and they’re wanting to learn more, where do they go and get that if the training is not accessible? But where are the teachers to teach the in those programmes going to come from if there’s no training programmes? I mean, it’s so what comes first does that do we have to have more teachers being trained? So then they can go into those programmes? Do we need programmes being created? It’s a real dilemma. Isn’t it chicken before?

Matt Edwards  19:49

Well, it is and that’s really you know, it is and we need to look things are shifting and the younger generation of teachers, the 20 and 30 year old teachers, there is no debate amongst them. A lot of them. There’s Some I’m sure there is, but a lot of the ones I meet are like, Yeah, I need to know how to teach Belters, how do I do it, and they’re ready to go, there is no debate in their mind. They know it’s time. And they know they didn’t learn it, and now they want to learn it. I mean, a lot of them. So I think it’s a generational shift that’s going to happen. I also think it’s important to me like to point out as I know, some of these teachers from different places that are of the classical mindset, who would probably never come to one of our workshops will probably still say, I still in mCore, my heart believe the classical singing is the core of everything. It’s they are trying to do the best with what they were given from their teacher lineage. And that’s a hard thing to overcome, as we see in every facet of life, when you poured your heart and soul into something for 30 years, and you have seen some results from it work, you can become convinced that yes, I know, this is this, we saw this with COVID. We have people that are like, No, I swear, I’ve never had a vaccine in my life. vaccines don’t work. I don’t need them only to go on and you know, die from COVID. And so you know, this happens. So that’s where I think that we got to have good welcoming, open, helpful conversations about this, because there’s no bad person in this, and no bad information that’s been passed down since the 1800s. Yes, and we’re in a different world. Now. This is not 1887. And so now that we’re sitting here, 140 years later, we need to start thinking about the world we live in now. And using the tools we have now, to help seniors that we have now. Yes, if that’s not enough motivation to help the person, the human being the soul that is sitting in front of you communicate their most deepest feelings through the music, that means something to them, and look at our SWAT article, and look at what’s coming down the pike if we don’t. The other thing is, is I also don’t want any of my voice teacher colleagues, whether I know you’re not teaching in academia to become unemployed, because I exactly where my father was unemployed all the time, because he was a factory worker factories laid off people all the time. It’s a miserable way to grow up. And I don’t want anybody else to have to go through that. Yes, go into let people know, look, we’re enrollment is falling, there is a storm coming, which is what that SWOT article is about. We’ve tried to share this information to not only help the students, but to help our colleagues, David and I talked about this a lot, Jackie and I have talked about it, we do not want to watch anybody go through a collapse of their programme. There are lots of ways that every institution, every school can adopt these things. Now, not every school is going to have a rock and roll degree. They don’t have to. There’s music education programmes throughout this country in the music educators need to know how to direct the musical and direct the pop acapella group, and if that’s all your school can take on, because that’s all you can do. And you still want to teach classical ideals because choral music has a lot of that still, that’s still a better start. It’s a move we’re starting. It’s

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:58

a start on exposure. Yes,

Matt Edwards  23:00

our music therapy programmes have music therapists who work with people who are coming back from war, whose musical identity is wrapped around country music or hip hop. And they want to write songs when they’re writing songs to get through their PTSD, they need to write in the kind of music that it connects to them. So another easy start is to make sure that your music therapy programmes are exposing your students to the music that their clients must have in order to heal from the conditions that they’re seeking a music therapist for. So yes, doesn’t have to be going as radical as like we have, you know, at Shenandoah, there are baby steps that we can take that still allows room for those students who still love classical music and there’s always going to be Juilliard. There’s always going to be the Cleveland Institute of Music. There’s always going to be a need for those specialised opera training programmes. Yes, not going away. It’s time to diversify where we can and serve the clients that we can.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  24:01

And I think if ever, we’re going to truly have students centred learning, we must listen to the needs of our students. And that includes what music they want to sing. So people that are saying, Oh, yes, my teaching is student focused. And they’re telling their students they must sing classical. They are not teaching student focused approaches, they’re not using those approaches. They’re still caught up in some sort of master apprentice model where you’re saying, This is what you must sing. If you want to learn. This is a one size fits all it’s classical music, and this is what you’ve got to do that is not student centred learning. And so if ever, we’re going to completely take on that model. We have to get rid of those traditions to the quite well at least we’re listening to the students themselves and what they want and what their needs are. And CCM styles constitute 99% of total music consumption globally. And the big problem with higher education, not having training for those students is essentially, you’re making those students and like they’re not employable. And if you’re a classical singer, and you’re going down that road of classical training, you have to be one of the 1%.

Matt Edwards  25:39

Absolutely. You I mean, you’ve come across the same number. So in your research, and the, you know, other people are writing about this. Yeah, it’s not just us.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  25:48

No, I see. Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  25:50

yes. So I mean, that’s totally unethical. Imagine doing that in a law degree, teaching something that’s outdated, that you know, that that part of Law no longer exists, let’s just say, with contracts, and you don’t have anything if a if it’s a contract, and it’s to do with an artist, and you don’t have a clause in there about marketing and social media, that you leave all of that out in the contract? Well, you know, you have to keep updating with with the marketplace Don’t, don’t you and with technology.

Matt Edwards  26:31

Yeah. You know, the sad thing, as I know, you’ve come across this in your research is that there have been discussions about voice teacher licensure and certification since the early 1900s. And there’s always been resistance to it. And so we’re one of the only fields where there is no continuing education requirement. I mean, the dog groomer has to go get continuing education and a licence. You know, to cut your hair. Yes. So, you know, that is I think, a tricky part of our profession is that there is no gate. I mean, SLPs have to do it, but voice teachers don’t.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:09

Yeah, it is tricky. And I love when I have a student who has who comes to me who’s had no track form of training, and says, Oh, I’m, I actually teach singing at a local school. And I’m going, but you’ve never had any training. You have really poor technique, you don’t even you don’t do anything correctly or safely or sustainably. And you’re teaching singing and you’re 18 years old. Imagine the damage that you could potentially be doing.

Matt Edwards  27:49

And I will say that the interesting thing is, is that part of what I had read about presser to his presser felt that there were these charlatan teachers as I called him like the mute and the one dissertation I read said think The Music Man the musical, you know, where Harold Hill comes in to sell all these kids instruments and then leaves town. So presser and also did notice that this was an issue. And I think that his Etude magazine, MTN a was a step in trying to address this. So again, this is 140 year old problem. You know, this is an issue that’s been talked about a long time.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  28:21

And I and I do and I, I also, I mean, with, you had, you had said this so beautifully about the if we’re doing student based learning, right, if we’re doing student based or teaching, that if we’re not teaching what the student wants, then it’s not student led, it’s teaching Oh, and you’re absolutely, and that, that taught that lineage. And Matt had even said to like, that’s because the teachers teachers did this. And the teacher is like this ancestry in it. That whole that whole thing, like the teacher is the deity. The teacher is like speaking from the milestone, the musical God, who is going to be leading into you, and it should be a collaboration and I and I think that that can be scary for for teachers, for private teachers who’ve never done that before, or who have never had a teacher of their own who has said to them, what do you want to sing? Or what do you want to do? Or what are you experiencing when we’re doing this? Do you like the sound that you’re making? What is the sound that you actually want to make? Because I’m going to help you try to find that. I have to take a lot of judgement that I have from from what my students are doing. I have to take the I don’t know how to word this in a way. I can’t hear my own bias. I have to take my bias out of it. 100% I think that that’s can be really scary for teachers, who a lot of times like how we were taught there is it I’m gonna go back to classical singing. It’s a very special cific sound and and also like when we looked, I mean, I don’t want to go into a term talk, but we could talk about how a ccm has some some people say well CCM is too broad of a term. Oh, absolutely. 100% is, CCM is a very broad term. But somebody had to create a term for it because there was no room for it. Right? Yes, yes. If there’s r&b, yes, there’s, there’s a country and there’s, but the same thing happens in classical music, you have to have, you have French melody singers, you also have early music, you have Baroque singing, you have people who are really, really, really well versed in singing Verity. And some people were really good at singing vogner. So I mean, it’s that that happens everywhere. But there’s specific sounds that have to be made for those specific genres of music. And you have to know what that sound is. And you have to, and you also, like, have to truly listen to the student and ask them what they want. Ask them what they’re into, what is it that you’re, you know, you just sing this song for me? What did you like about what you did? What would you have changed? How can I help you? Not about me saying, You know what, you should sing this louder and higher, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And sometimes I have to do that. But but for the most part, it’s really what the student wants a student led. And I.

Matt Edwards  31:23

Yeah, that’s hard. Because a lot of our teachers that we work with, were never given that opportunity themselves. A teacher, yes. Add to that, Oh, buddy. Yes, I have that. And so it’s, again, it’s not anybody’s fault. We’re just where we are. It’s not about finger pointing. But it’s about acknowledging look, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. This is what is going on, we got to figure a way out of this, because this is, you know, not helping a lot of people, there’s got to be ways that if we start this dialogue that we can all start, you know, troubleshooting together. Right. So

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:57

where do we start that dialogue? I mean, I, you know, do we need to check in with ourselves first? What are our biases? You know, how can we do better, then do we go and speak to other teachers? Do we form an organisation do? How do we create change? How do we get this movement going? Because I tell you what, I’m really keen to get it going. And I’m happy to work with you to get it going.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  32:25

And I think that I think that teachers want it. I think administration needs to understand what’s going on, too. I mean, I do and I think our administration has been really good. They’ve been great. And but I don’t know how many other schools are willing to hear like, you need you need some contemporary stuff going on here. We need Yes. But I also I also wonder, too, oh, sorry. I’ll probably go on a tangent I was gonna

Matt Edwards  32:51

say but it is also happening look naps with Alan Henderson, as the executive director has changed. Love Allen ways. If you would have told me the NATs would have made that shift from when I first was introduced to nats as a singer, I would have been like, yeah, that’ll never happen. And Alan is with all the presidents because it’s also the presidents and the boards of directors that have existed in the last 20 years, they have turned that ship and a massive direction. And they certainly have, but they only have about 7000 members. And there’s 30,000 voice teacher websites, right. 30,000 voice teacher websites. And so that’s a small sliver, we have the international voice teachers a mix. They’re doing great work to the Institute for vocal advancement. I think it is they’re doing great work. So there’s all these groups that are doing great work. So it’s, I think, if anything, it’s doing kind of what we’re doing at the CCM Institute, which is all of us realising we’re stronger together, and take down the barriers of this camp versus that camp. Take down all the animosity that may have existed in the past between this pedagogical method and this pedagogical method. And all of us work together to be like, Look, the goal is to communicate the human experience through song. And that’s what we’re all trying to help other people do. So how do you do it? This is how I do it. Why do you do it that way? Oh, this is why I do it that way. And I start having an open mind to have these conversations. So we unite, because I still Yes, a little bit too much of well, that’s not the right way to do it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  34:19

Oh, yes, you only have to read the forums on social media. There’s still people who have a lot to say, on those forums and underlying passive aggressive. I don’t comment on those forums. I advertise my podcast on there. But I don’t comment. I’m still scared. I’ll speak on this platform, but I’m scared to pipe up on those forums.

Matt Edwards  34:47

Well, I mean, but that’s, you know, and again, though, that is the system. The system used to be very much that way because in academia, this is how it’s done, which again, comes to Etude magazine, but

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  34:58

this isn’t Yes. I mean, are we allowed to talk about what that is? Yeah, I don’t I don’t. I also

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:07

Well, can I just say something? Yes, go ahead. Yeah, all I was going to say is that that I’ll make this really quick, I’ll let you say what you have to say is that you, both of you, and myself are in a position of privilege, where we are able to speak up because of where we’re working. My university, is by supporting the work that I’m doing. Your university is supporting the work you’re doing. I know, there are a lot of teachers who are scared to speak up for fear of losing their jobs. And I kind of feel that we have a responsibility then, in our place of privilege to start making some noise or change, because we’re not going to lose our jobs. In fact, our universities are going to be happy about us speaking up.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  36:01

Yeah, yeah. No, I totally Yes.

Matt Edwards  36:04

I mean, and that’s it, you know, we were talking about, you know, NASM, our school withdrew from NASM NASM, the National Association of Schools and music, the accrediting body about three years ago, our university set enough. And we withdrew, because we knew that NASM was holding us back.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  36:20

And I think that NASM is holding a lot of people say it loud, I really do. I think accredited

Matt Edwards  36:26

I don’t. And if somebody is part of NASM, and you’re going, then that’s not the case, then we need to do a better job of explaining what the standards actually mean. Because what I’ve witnessed at my schools is that here’s the NASM standards, our last review, we were told this so that we better do, and usually it was something that was outdated, that we needed to be, you know, be doing that we’re sticking to because we’re afraid that if we don’t do that by the next NASM review, it’s going to be an issue. And then when you look at their standards, they have no standards for popular music degree programmes. Now, they’ll say, Well, you can suggest a programme or create one, that’s great. So we have a blank slate that we don’t know if you’re even going to like that you may not even approve. So you want me to do all of the hundreds of hours of work to propose something to which you might look at and go. Now I’m not sure about that. problem when they do not have standards, when they have not put in the work to form standards for what commercial music integration looks like, at the academic level, it leaves everybody in limbo land, where they’re hesitant to try to take this beast on because they don’t know if it’s going to get approved. They don’t know how it’s going to affect their next review. And they feel stuck. Yeah. And so that’s where I also that’s

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  37:38

holding us down that too. I mean, I don’t I would need to look into this. But I feel do we do you? Do we know what the people who are doing the accreditation? Do we know what their musical focus has been in their lives? Everybody who’s

Matt Edwards  37:55

a lot of times is it’s people who are running programmes, so they’re all classical musicians.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  38:01

And then the other the other thing too, if we wanted to talk about going down the pipeline, I teach private lessons, I used to only teach private lessons to middle school and high school students. I don’t do contests, I don’t do competitions. It’s just something and so that’s another topic for another day. But there are so on ensemble contests. And I don’t I’d have to know I don’t, I don’t help with these things. And so I don’t know if this still happens. But back in the day, and at least probably five to 10 years ago, the only things that you could sing for solo and ensemble contests for your for your county or district or state, whatever. It was always something that was classical, usually in a foreign language. And so if we want to talk about making change, I don’t think that change can just happen in higher education. I think it needs to happen in private schools. I know that my kids go to a private elementary school where they are singing a lot of popular music, they’re singing songs, they want to sing, which is great. But they do here in Australia, and I don’t but I also don’t know what happens in the middle schools and high schools. I’ll find that out next year. And my kid goes to middle school. But I also don’t think it’s the teachers fault is probably what is being told that the teacher has to teach, inquire, do you have to sing curriculum? The curriculum? So I mean, I think I think giving students a wide variety of music to be able to sing but also learning how to teach it to

Matt Edwards  39:28

and what’s what’s interesting is that the music educators for the people in the United States, if you major in music, education, that’s that you’re looking at, you know, our K through 12 system, which is basically from the age of five to the age of 18. Same as ours. Okay. Yeah. So researchers in that field have been very progressive for a very long time dating back to this Tanglewood symposium that happened in the 1960s. And they have been pushing for this. But the again, the issue is, is that when you work in academia, and you want to make curricular changes at the academic level at has to go through academic cabinet and all of these other things where it has to be voted on by the entire faculty. Now at Shenandoah, when we put things through for an entire faculty vote, my colleagues are super supportive. They vote and approve what they know we think is best move. We all do it for each other. But not all schools are that way. No. So it’s very easy at other schools for faculty who really do not want to see this change happen to vote things down, or to otherwise roadblock. So there are, there are a lot of us out there, there are a lot of us out there in our little pockets trying to make things happen. It’s just when you look at the big picture, and you see the stories you meet these people who are being told these things, that you start to realise, wow, we can’t just sit back and go, Well, things are much better now. It feels like it when I’m in my group of people, when I’m surrounded by my CCMS to faculty, when I’m surrounded by people that my conferences I go to, I’m like, wow, our world is getting much better. And then a high school student at a recruiting event. And I’m like, no, no, no, actually, no. We still got work to do. Yes. You know, but I think that you know, there aren’t a lot of people deserve credit music therapy people have, the faculty members have been really progressive, because they know that’s the only way they can help their clients. You can’t help a client with Caro mio Ben, when trying to write a song about their post traumatic stress war, you can but it’s not going to work, it’s not going to connect. So

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  41:23

it wouldn’t help my stress levels that would they would make mine peak.

Matt Edwards  41:29

And there was research done that looked at the first six months of music therapists, careers and how many of them get vocal pathologies that sideline them. That is a significant percentage of music therapists end up with an injury in their first six months of practice. Because they’re not being taught how to sing the kind of stuff that they’re going to sing once they’re actually in the clinic. Yes, so we’re failing students, we’re literally doing something that’s leading to physical harm. That’s where like when I sit back and go, Okay, so do I come out and talk about this? Or do I just keep it to myself, I feel like I have no choice but to talk about it. Because they’re literally getting hurt. And when people are becoming physically injured, because they’re not given the tools to do the thing that their heart’s desire is what they feel like they have to do. It’s their calling. And we got to figure out how to help. Yeah, that’s why these conversations I just think are so critical, even though they’re tough, even though they stir up controversy, even though you know, it can lead to some hard conversations, we got to start having them because there’s too many people that are getting left behind. And that’s not what we’re supposed to be doing is that you know,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  42:34

everybody up. Exactly, exactly. Look, I’m going to start winding this up, you too, have been so generous with your time and you have children that are watching a movie, so you could forgot. I forgot about the kids and they probably all the popcorn in their house. Plus all the lollies, everything, they probably had pillow fights, and there’s feathers everywhere. That’s all good. Okay, so in wrapping up any piece of advice you would like to share with our voice community,

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  43:10

listen to your student. Listen, let your let your student tell you what they need and what they want. And just and literally and listen to, you know, another really cool thing to do is ask them to create a playlist of maybe 10 to 15 songs that they feel like they really love, maybe something that they would like to sing someday, or things that really speak to them. And endless I really listened to them and and also listen to your student. And then if you’re, you know, if you’re somebody at a university who wants this change, I don’t know, I guess they could reach out or whatever reach out, but also like, contact your administration and let them know that this is you’re not the only school that wants this if there’s schools that are making this happen. And we’re doing it I mean, we’re living proof and our administration has listened and we’re making a lot of students professionals now and they’re singing the way that they want to sing. They’re not they didn’t start out singing one way and then get moulded into singing a different way there. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  44:17


Matt Edwards  44:18

in the biggest thing is to that I’m always shouting from the rooftops, they’re not getting hurt. No, we do not have any new vocal injuries that are not related to something outside of our control. So what I mean by that is we had a student who had COVID and who coughed himself into a vocal haemorrhage. You can’t prevent that, that no, that’s different. Yes. Oh, good. And it was real bad. And she got to haemorrhage. We had a student who had a cyst in high school, who came to us and who was doing really, really well until they got really, really sick. Everything flared up from the flu and from some other emotional distress. And what was muscular tension dysphonia and when they saw a surgeon a surgeon’s, like we should maybe just take care of this now, at this point in time, and they did. But those are the kinds of things we deal with. I don’t have new cases and nodule showing up because we teach the kids the thing they want to do. When I came here, there was a lot of kids with nodules. And I was like, why? Well, they weren’t teaching them to belt for the first two years. So my first year here, I’m walking down the hallways, I hear screaming, oh, I’m going Who is this kid screaming and I go look in the window. And as a freshman, I’d go look in the window, and I was a sophomore. And I’m like, the kids have nodules, because we’re not teaching them to belt. And they’re teaching themselves developments. I saw kids in a room together trying to teach each other. And I remember I was in a faculty meeting. And I was like, that’s the reason they’re getting hurt. It’s not as belting is inherently bad. It’s because we don’t help them for two years. Whether we want them to or not. And everybody looked at that, and they’re like, You know what, you’re right. And I was like, Can we do an experiment and teach them develop from their freshman year? And you know, what, when we did, the rate of vocal pathologies plummeted to not Yeah, of course, the kids were getting the help that they needed for the thing they wanted to do. And my colleagues are great teachers, they were able to help them. So it’s just, you know, it’s these little changes. My little piece of parting advice is, you know, thought is be the teacher you needed in that moment. Yeah. Not the teacher you had, but the teachers union did. So love that student who’s standing in front of you who’s saying, but my heart’s really drawn to this song, and you’re listening to that song, and you’re gone. I hate this song. This is not me. Be the teacher you needed when you were in that kid shoes and say, You know what, I’ll figure out how to help you. Let’s figure it out. That’s amazing, other brilliant student whose emotion emotional distress. And you remember your teacher who from Etude. Magazine, their lineage goes back to the 18 magazine, where they tell you how to discipline your students and how to get your students to snap into shape. Who was harsh to you, who said, Well, you just need to suck it up. And you just need to learn how to do because this is just the big motions are on outside the door, right? Don’t be that teacher, be the teacher, you need it in that moment. And help students figure out how to deal with their emotional distress, refer them out if it’s not something that you can help with, but be the person who’s there for them. Because when we do that, then we cultivate artists we call to be human beings who have something they can share with others, there’s something important that they want to say, and we’re gonna make the world a better place. And the dream is to have institutions where there’s a reason to go to an institution. And the reason you go to an institution is because you as a singer songwriter, get to be surrounded by symphonic musicians who change your thought about the way that you write, write backing instruments into your songs, because you’re surrounded by dancers who make you rethink our movement might be a part of your concerts, because you’re surrounded by the musical theatre kid who tells stories in a really deeply connected way that makes you rethink how you might tell your breakup story. So that then when you go and put on your final culminating performance, you have all kinds of elements that you would have never have come up with on your own, in your own bedroom, without the influence of all of those other artists surrounding you. And that is the Conservatory of the future. The Conservatory of the future is the place where all of these cultural cultural Heritage’s come together. And we dump artists from all different backgrounds together and say, make something happen. And they create things that we can’t even imagine right now, because we don’t have enough multicultural institutions. If you want to see where the potential can be and where it can go. Go watch the performances of students from Berkeley, because Berkeley is already doing this.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  48:43

I spent a week at Berkeley. Yes, I love their programme. Yes, yes, absolutely.

Matt Edwards  48:51

When you honour all cultural Heritage’s, you teach people the music that they want to learn, and you lift them up and help them succeed.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  48:59

Yes, I have a student that’s coming into my programme next year I teach across all three years in the Bachelor of popular music programme, and I have two internationals. One is from Norway, and a boy from Greece, who wants to sing some of he wants to put a modern twist into some of the traditional music. So I’m highly excited by that. I keep you posted as to how that’s going to turn out. But look, thank you so much. We’re going to share the links to all your work, you have books you have. Sorry, I have one of your books, the rock and roll. I have your I have your paper, but I’m gonna share the links to all your work in the show notes for our audience to go and follow you up and and look at what you’re up to next. And I feel that we need to regroup at some stage agency if there’s any shifts happened, or if there’s anything that you want to talk about further, I would love to have you back. This has been truly fascinating. And I appreciate you. Keep up the amazing work.

Matt Edwards  50:14

Thank you for having us. And thank you for giving us an opportunity to talk about this. This is the first time we’ve dived this deep and a public forum about this information, we’re going to start trying to do some more with it because it needs to get out there. But we really owe the opportunity to get the conversation started.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  50:30

You know what, any time I’m up for it, and you can go as deep as you want here.

Matt Edwards  50:36

Thank you.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  50:37

It’s so good. Thank you so much, and you better go check on those kids. feel nervous. So take care. Thank you so much. Bye. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow, so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you’d like to help me, please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway? Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of a voice and beyond.

Are you ready to discover your voice in life, develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself?

Receive a free copy of ‘In Perfect Harmony’ a practical guide to meditation.