Over the past few weeks, I have been on a teaching tour in the USA, where I have been working predominantly with classical singers and teachers who want to learn more about contemporary commercial music styles. The feedback was overwhelming, and many of the singers expressed they had a deep desire to sing this music, but there was limited opportunity in higher education. Many of the teachers were surprised to learn that many of our philosophies and approaches aligned, but it is just that our teaching is geared towards creating a different aesthetic. I was extremely grateful and humbled by all the positive feedback. I believe it is time for higher education to embrace this music and there needs to be a hierarchical change for this to happen. My trip has inspired to replay segments of a former interview with Matt Edwards and Jacqulyn Zito-Edwards, this week on A Voice and Beyond.

Matt and Jacqulyn have been working together on some ongoing research into the roots of the academic bias against popular music. You can go back and listen to episodes #99 and #101 for a full recap.

Jacqulyn is an adjunct assistant professor of voice for the musical theatre program at Shenandoah Conservatory and serves on faculty at the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute. Matt has been working at Shenandoah University since 2010 as an Associate Professor, within the Voice and Musical Theatre departments. He is also the Coordinator of Musical Theatre Voice and Artistic Director of CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute. In this fascinating episode, Matt and Jacqulyn delve deeply into the history of the classism and racism that has perpetuated the status quo in the training of CCM singers. I will let this interview speak for itself.

In this Episode

02:35 – Introduction to Contemporary Commercial Music in Voice Training
05:36 – Historical Bias Against Popular Music in Academia
13:15- Exploring the Roots of Academic Bias
22:37 – Impact of Historical Racism and Classism on Music Education
32:10 – The Need for Inclusivity in Music Education Today
41:20 – Personal Experiences with Resistance in Academia
52:15 – Moving Forward: Strategies for Inclusive Voice Training


Putting yourself first is important because it allows you to prioritize your own needs and well-being, which in turn can help you be more productive, creative, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. By taking care of yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others and contribute positively to the world around you.



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

Hey, it’s Marisa Lee here and I have some really exciting news to share with you. Just recently, I launched my performance mastery coaching programme, which has been designed to help a forming artists and other creatives just like you to take centre stage in their lives. Whether you’re mid career and simply feeling stuck, or you’re someone who is just about to embark on your career journey, and need help getting started, my unique coaching programme is for you. To celebrate the launch. I’m currently offering a free 30 minute discovery session, so you can learn more about the programme and how I can help you go to the next level in your life. My first intake is already seeing incredible results. So don’t miss out, go visit Dr Marisa Lee naismith.com forward slash coaching, or just send me a direct message and let’s get chassis. Remember, there’s no time like now to take centre stage in your life.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:25

It’s Marisa 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  02:35

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been on a teaching tour in the USA, where I’ve been working predominantly with classical singers and teachers who want to learn more about contemporary commercial music styles, or CCM as we know it. The feedback was overwhelming and many of the singers expressed they had a deep desire to sing this music. But there were limited opportunities for them in higher education to build their knowledge base. Most of the teachers were surprised to learn that many of our philosophies and approaches aligned. But it is just that our teaching is geared towards creating a different aesthetic. I was extremely grateful and humbled by all the positive feedback. I believe it’s time for high education to embrace this music. And there needs to be a hierarchical change for this to happen. This week on a voice and beyond. I have been inspired to replace segments of a former interview with Matt Edwards, and Jacqueline Zito Edwards. based on my experiences on my teaching tour. Matt and Jacqueline have been working together on some ongoing research into the roots of the academic bias against popular music. Jacqueline is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of voice for the musical theatre programme at Shenandoah University and serves on faculty at the CCM vocal pedagogy Institute. Matt has been working at Shenandoah University since 2010. As an Associate Professor within the voice and music theatre departments. He is also the coordinator of musical theatre voice and artistic director of the CCM vocal pedagogy Institute. This is a throwback to episodes 99 and 100. heard with Matt and Jackie. And in this fascinating interview, they delve deeply into the history of the classism and the racism that has perpetuated the status quo in the training of CCM singers. I will let this interview speak for itself. So, without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Matt Edwards  05:36

But we’re not at where it was 13 years ago when we came to Shenandoah, exactly. Yeah, it’s definitely not where when we started, it was, you know, I mean, no, one of my graduate advisors said to me, I don’t quite and he said, I need to talk to you about what you’re teaching. And I was like, okay, and he said, I’m concerned about your future. And I said, Okay, why he’s like, you just, you’re really seem set on learning to do this musical theatre and pop rock stuff. And I just don’t think you’re going to be able to find a job doing that. And I was like, okay. Okay, no way out that way. Now, it worked out pretty well in my favour. But I

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:14

think so I think so. So what has inspired both of you to do this research work? Because you started researching quite a number of years ago.

Matt Edwards  06:28

Yeah. So in 2012, or 2010, when I got here, my position was created because the theatre department wanted this pop rock specialist, the voice department wasn’t so keen on it. It’s different now. Now, we have great relationships. But they were very hesitant to bring in a pop rock specialist who only taught Pop Rock was a big move. And so I met some resistance with things that I wanted to change and things that I wanted to do different. And I was meeting resistance from other colleagues, you know, just conferences and things that I had been attending. And what I really wanted to know is why why is this such a problem? And so that was my first big research question that I started with is, why is this bias exist. And if we understand that, then maybe we can start to move forward and move beyond it. And so in 2012, I gave my first talk on ethno historical barriers against contemporary commercial music voice pedagogy at the voice foundation annual symposium in Philadelphia. And when I talked about there was how the aristocrats in New York City were trying to create a cultural landscape that could rival what was seen in Europe, which was the homeland for most of the immigrants in that part of the country at the time, and that the aristocrats were building these Opera House is fully donor funded, they were making a special elevated place of, you know, practice for this music, they believe that this music was superior, and that everybody should be taught to like it. And there was also I was starting to find hints of some pretty racist language, also referring to black Americans at the time, and the way that they talked about the way the black Americans sing. And so I started saying in 2012, look, I think that some of our biases have been passed down generationally. And that’s how I ended this talk. I was like, you know, if we go back to our great, great grand teacher, and we look at what our great, great grand teacher was living in a world, they were living in a world where racism was rampant, and classism was rampant. And then they taught the next generation who taught the next generation who taught us. And so if this is a system where you have to, it’s a political system, academia is everything is voted on, you can’t make any changes without voting. You can’t get through the programme without being voted on in the form of juries. So you have a voting system that determines who gets through and who doesn’t. And that system had its roots back in this period. And I knew that that’s where this all started. Well, we had been talking about this a lot. And then we love to go antique shopping. And so we’re out antique shopping one day, and we see these magazines called magazines called Etude. Magazine, and I picked them up on like Jackie hears music teacher magazine, which look at this, which

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  09:09

I knew I knew what these were, I don’t think that you really my piano teacher when I was in middle school in high school. She had she had a lot of cats, and she had a lot of Etude magazines. She had all of her teachers. She had a lot of her, her her previous teachers, Etude magazines. Do you know what the etude magazine? Oh, no. Okay. So they’re, well, here’s one of them that we have, and this is from 1940, which we talked about cover here in a minute, but it’s got it’s got ads in here. It’s got articles written by different composers conductor, full sheet music, and here, there’s all kinds of stuff and I cannot remember the date that it was stars. 1889 Yeah, so but it’s It was meant for the the, the private music teacher. And a lot of these teachers would keep these magazines and they would refer back to them because they would have sheet music in it. And if you are a private teacher, like 100 years ago, you really had no other outlet. You had no other like community, you would just get these magazines and you would read them. And we start looking through them to see if we can find voice teaching stuff, like what were they talking about? What are they you know, talking about? Belcanto? What were they saying? We would love to know we start looking through them and we we start uncovering some some thoughts so

Matt Edwards  10:39

blatantly racist. Yeah, talk about the way that people sing. Yeah. And so a warning of some language, but the term that used a lot of savage in singing, like,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:50

Ah ha, ha, ha.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  10:52

Ragtime is considered trashy, yes. Talking

Matt Edwards  10:56

about shout, singing and shout singing was specifically associated with black Americans at that time, and they always talked about it in a negative light. All of a sudden, a light bulb went off. And I was like, this has got something to do with what we’re researching. We’ve been digging and knowing we were. And this might be what we’re missing. And so Jackie comes home and goes down a rabbit. Yeah.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  11:17

So because I have nothing else to do.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:19

It was it was like, No, this is amazing. We just

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  11:24

got vaccinated, but we’re like, we’re still gonna stay home and like, so. So I start looking up, I’m like, Well, I wonder if we can find online. I mean, these were written 100 years ago, I’m sure that we can find all like all these articles. So start like Googling, like in the 80s. Because you can go to the etude website, and you can put in keywords and then articles will pop up. So I started like putting in trashy music, or I did I put trashy in there and all kinds of stuff came up. There’s even there’s a really great dissertation I’m reading right now called Evil at a glance, I cannot remember the guy. What’s it, but it’s when was it written? It was? Maybe, maybe

Matt Edwards  12:05

6000 A lot more in the 80s and 90s. Yeah, maybe

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  12:09

maybe I can give you that information afterwards. But but it’s, it’s really great, because it’s talking about like the different different political cartoons that were in there. And so then I start researching and start looking. And then we start, I start noticing names that are popping up that I’m recognising. And there’s one issue in particular from I think 1924 called the jazz problem. And it was like, oh, there’s a jazz problem.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  12:35

Houston wouldn’t have a problem called Jazz.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  12:40

But it was a problem. And I and so I start reading like, oh, there’s a whole art a whole magazine, a whole issue dedicated to the jazz problem.

Matt Edwards  12:49

This is important because if you because I’m

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  12:53

gonna go on a tangent for years on so

Matt Edwards  12:55

but the jazz problem issue is really important because it really shows what people were actually thinking. They say the quiet part out loud. And so whereas for a lot of times, like you could tell and you could read between the lines, how they felt about jazz, and this

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  13:11

issue, people had come out or had Gustav Mahler

Matt Edwards  13:15

says different issues, but it’s Susa, and the person who’s important is Frank Damrosch, who is the head of Juilliard, he create

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  13:23

he he created Juliet, it’s now what is now Juilliard. It was not

Matt Edwards  13:28

musical arts. Yes. And Frank downwash was a huge figure in New York society at that time in their musical society. And he is the person who says this is the music of a primitive people. It might be funny, but it’s not real. And basically, it’s garbage. And some of the terminology that he uses gotten blatantly racist along with some of the other language and we realised that we weren’t this hunch that we had for a long time that this was part of the issue was the issue. And that magazine kind of nails it was the thing when we saw that we’re like, okay, so we are on to something, but there is an issue here,

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  14:05

but then my wheels kept turning, I’m like, who’s free? Damrosch because I had no idea who he was at the time. So I started Googling him, find out Juilliard, and they’re like, Okay, so who’s the guy who created a tude? How did this all happen? How did like this is a guy saying this stuff about popular music at the time, which is jazz, and he’s definitely against it. And he also helped create Julliard. So then we look at Etude we find out that Theodore presser created a tude magazine who is Theodore presser, so then we find out who he is. He ended up creating the he was he was a pianist, but he wasn’t that great of a pianist. He went to Germany, because that’s where everybody was going in the late. Yes, everybody was going to Germany because that’s where you learn to play piano better. So he goes there. He loves lip sync. He loves all the things that are going on there. He can was back to America. I don’t know all the ins and outs, but he was teaching at different universities, I think little universities here and music teachers to be taken more seriously. He did. And he created the mtDNA, which is the musical music teacher National Association, and he created the mtDNA, which was an organisation for for teachers to get music teachers to get together. But when he created the MTA, which I think was really great, I mean, we wouldn’t have we wouldn’t I don’t think we would have nats it we would not have nots, we would not have NASM, which is, you know, accreditation. So we wouldn’t have all these things, I think what he really wanted was a really great thing. But what he ended up doing with the mtDNA is then he created the etude magazine. And so if you had it, I came up with a whole flow chart. I don’t have it with me right now. But he clearly created a trifecta. And this was right around the time. This is right after a really great big recession that happened in the 1890s. And he created the mtDNA. And if you have the if you have a membership to the mtDNA, you get a discount for the etude mags or no for sheet music. Is that how to work so oh

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:11

my gosh,

Matt Edwards  16:13

basically you get into MTN a you then subscribe to a tune magazine. If you sign enough students up, you can win prizes for signing your students up to me to a to magazine, then they get a monthly publication that does have sheet music in it. But it also has articles about how they should think about music. And if you look at the cover of this, this cover is very telling of this magazine, because what they wanted you to think about music is that music possesses powers that exalt in a noble mankind. And on this image, you’ll see the church, the school and the home. Because the belief was that music was from God. Music was a sacred thing. It was a discipline thing, and it would help you become a better human. And throughout this magazine, they talk about it being our duty as music teachers to reach down to the common people and lift them up to appreciate good music, not to teach them the music that they like, which is popular. Now the also in some issues, it depends on who’s writing, some people didn’t say, Look, we should take advantage of popular music, let them play that and then lift them up to actually learn what good music is. So not only do the teachers share this with their students, the teachers then can buy sheet music at a discount from Theodore pressors publishing house, and then sell that sheet music to their students. And then pressor is making such a great revenue stream. He goes around and starts buying up all of the other music publishing houses and takes over a whole city block Philadelphia two

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  17:37

years, it took two years for him to do that. He had a publishing company in Lynchburg, Virginia, and it was small. And then within two years he ended up in Philadelphia, it was huge. I mean, he took so this is like all music teacher, all private music teachers were reading this, this was this was sacred. This was the newspaper for them. Well,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  17:57

this sounds sorry, this sounds like a cult.

Matt Edwards  18:01

Well, it’s right. So but I

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:05

mean, if it was your religion, if it were if it was a religion, it would be a cult, because you’re indoctrinating people, and you’re telling them what they should like, what they shouldn’t like, what is good singing what is bad singing? What is good music, what is cultured music, it is so wrong and so unethical on so many

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  18:29

levels. And it wasn’t even just music that was talked about in there. There’s also political things that are it’s social evils, even like social things that people are doing that that would be evil. So that’s, that’s, and then but

Matt Edwards  18:42

I think the key thing is is Etude hits a peak subscriber run of 240,000 Oh, there’s 240,000 people a month getting this magazine. Now you another thing it’s important to understand is like Technology is always changing things in this world. And the magazine was technology. That was the was media. And so there is a magazine explosion that happens in the late 19th century in the early 20th century, where there’s a magazine for almost everything that you can think of there are 10 Other around 10 other music magazines at this time etudes the most popular and the one that’s really directed at teachers. But you know you’re right. This does have the the impact of indoctrinating everybody who reads it now again. Theodore presser was doing good things. We have to acknowledge that Theodore presser set up scholarships for kids who were poor and couldn’t afford lessons. Theodore presser set up a home for well he called it a first for age to musicians, no one would enrol and go into this home. So then he talked he changed it to retirement and community made a home for teachers music teachers, who didn’t have enough means to support themselves, they could go to this retirement home for his employees at his publishing house. He built an entire community for them where they could get houses and apartments at half the cost of what they would have been in the public market. place. So he cared deeply about people, but he’s also a product of his era. Yes, all of this is taking place. And what’s important is mtDNA comes out of this. Later comes the National Association for Schools of Music, which is the accrediting body that to this day, accredits all Schools of Music in the United States. Out of this group comes the National Association of Teachers of singing NATs and also out of this group as well from NASM, and the College Music Society. And all of this comes the idea of a doctorate degree. And the doctor degree gets started in 1953. And that starts really now you have to have it, you know, we start moving and accelerating towards you need a doctorate to teach in academia. And that data is important, because the structure for the doctorate degree is built in 1953. And in 1954, in the United States is the case Brown versus Board of Education. And that is the time when Supreme Court rules that segregation is illegal, and we start seeing the desegregation of the schools. So when you’re looking at the time that our professional organisations were developed, they were developed in a time of segregation. And in a time when popular music was vaudeville shows, which have the roots in minstrel shows, which also includes ragtime music, the blues, and jazz, which all come from black Americans. Yes, popular music isn’t just popular. They had parlour songs, parlour songs were written by white composers, they still didn’t like them in a tune magazine, some people advocated for them a lot more against it. They tolerated that. But then when you really get into jazz and the blues, you start seeing a lot of intolerance. That’s where people start drawing a line and saying, No, that’s not okay. And actually, we were already doing that. You’re just saying that black people came up with this, but actually, the Irish did. And this is our thing, but it’s not a good

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  21:52

well, we’ve done we’ve been doing syncopation, they still think a patient in front of us. And things like Gustav Mahler,

Matt Edwards  21:59

who’s also says in Gustaf Mahler, again, says the part out loud that we had a feeling was there but hadn’t found yet where he says, in his own writing, he writes an article for Etude. And he’s talking about different people. And he says, I cannot bring myself to believe that all men are created equal, that is beyond my comprehension. I know. So again, it’s not like this isn’t I think what’s so hard is when you have these conversations, this isn’t about cancelling anybody. This is just understanding if we go back to the core question, which is why, why is popular music not in academia? This is why, absolutely.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  22:37

And I did, because I know that we spent a lot of time on on Etude. But then,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:41

no, but it’s

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  22:44

no, it is important. But one of the things too, like, where did this come from? Where did this thought that the popular music is, is so bad, or the or that European music is so much higher? And you have to also look at the Gilded Age, you have to look at reconstruction after after the Civil War, and you had the second industrial revolution that was happening at that time. And you had all these really rich people like the Rockefellers, JP Morgan Carnegie, who are some of the other the other, I’m trying to think of other big Vanderbilts. And they, you know, they were high money, the very elite. And so in the Gilded Age, they had a type of etiquette or a culture that they wanted to, to hold on to, but where did that culture come from one of the one of the people that wrote about the culture of the Gilded Age and where they wanted to keep that elitism was Ward McAllister. And he wrote, oh, what was the name of the book? He wrote a whole book about

Matt Edwards  23:47

well, he went to Europe.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  23:51

And then he brought it back and he was hosting parties for the Astor family, and, and making sure that all these European ideals were still staying there. So if it wasn’t European, it was not good. It was not elite. What is that I go to and I think of is where this kind of culture change happened. I’m not going to get too into it, but would be the Astra placed riot that happened, I think was in the late 1840s, where it was a riot that happened where people actually died in New York City and it was literally American performing against European performing and then Shakespeare, Shakespeare. And the Americans were not happy with the European and it happened in Astor Place. It happened at the Astor Place Opera House, and they weren’t happy with it. They did not want this European coming in and doing Shakespeare acting the way that the European was they wanted to keep their American way of doing it. And they burned the place they did they burned so

Matt Edwards  24:51

there were gunshots. The militia was brought in people were killed, was burnt down. So when we talk about a culture war, this is literally fun. What’s been instigated over high culture and culture in the founding of this country’s artistic landscape,

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  25:06

and you fast forward 50 years and you have, you know, you have the Gilded Age and you and you have or you have all this, the rich people having all these big fancy parties and everything, and then you have the Rockefellers and you have the Carnegie’s, who are funding some of these universities and these Symphony halls, and they’re part of it. Okay, if you have Carnegie who is part of this, like, I must keep everything very high art, it must be high art, it must be European, and he’s hanging out with Frank Damrosch, which he was, and he helped create and fund and build Juilliard, or a lot of those rich people were doing that at that time. They’re not gonna want popular music there because it is, it’s not elite enough for them. And what’s

Matt Edwards  25:54

interesting, too, again, this is a United States problem here we charge people for college and astronomical sums of money. Yes, yes, please. So college did start at one point in time in being free or super low costs. Eventually, people realise though, if you go to college, you make more money, maybe they should pay for that, then they started charging for his college, then some of these colleges will give out loans from the college itself. But you basically couldn’t go to college unless you had family money until the 1950s. And the only reason we get funding for anybody to go to college, he was not from the upper levels of income was because of our technology war with Russia when we had the race to space. And the government realised we need more scientists, we need more mathematicians, we need more engineers, if we’re going to keep up with the Russians. So they create a federal student loan programme so that anybody can get into college because they need people in order to make something happen. But that doesn’t really open the door for arts, we see AI Bill start to open the door where people can go to major and things we see a more music programme starting to come up donors are starting to give money to create the schools. It’s not until the 1960s, where we really start getting student loans that help enable the growth and expansion of all of these things. And that’s right around the same time that we see a growth and explosion of opera in the United States. The opera America is founded in 1970, with 20 member companies that get all the way up over 100 companies by the 1990s. That’s the peak, and in their peak 50% of their tickets say or their budget was coming from ticket sales. Now it’s around 29%. So opera had an explosion of popularity, but you look at it. And it’s because of pop variety is because of the Three Tenors, there was more and more of a growth of the middle class people who had money who wanted to be part of this cultural world that had been created during the Gilded Age. And there’s admiration for it. But corporations also had big control over what we listened to because they controlled the record labels. They weren’t controlled the record labels and what we listened to. But then when you get to the 1990s, and this gets a little bit into the SWAT article is when you get to the 1990s then we get Napster and we get internet music streaming now anybody can put out music. And now you as a listener can listen to anything you want to whenever you want to. Exactly that starts exploding, we start to see more and more growth of things, we see the growth in musical theatre, right musical theatre starts to explode as well. And now we no longer have only this high level of culture that the aristocracy is controlling. We now have a consumer based culture that’s been growing since the 50s with Elvis Presley and the beginnings of rock’n’roll that was coming out of the jazz era as well, even though they tried to suppress it. And it just snowballs and snowballs until the day the upper class. Now listen to rock and roll. I mean, you know, Kanye married into a very upper class family.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:45

Oh, yes. So upper class. Yeah. And so,

Matt Edwards  28:49

you know, there’s, it’s a different world now. And that’s what we’re bringing up in the squat article is music enrollment is falling, it’s without a doubt as falling is projected to fall worse than it already has. And so that’s why we also feel like now if there’s ever been a time that it’s been more urgent, it’s now opera companies are struggling, they’re closing, university music programmes are struggling, some of them are closing, we know that the enrollment trends are going down. And we know it could be as bad as a 59% decrease in enrollment 10 years from now, compared to what we have now, which is already 33% down from 10 years ago. And so, you know, it’s this is why the history is fascinating, is it study is It is how we got here, and then has started to unravel. Yeah, why there’s never been a better time than now to start looking around and going okay, so the world has changed. We are no longer making music only for the aristocracy. We no longer believe that there’s only one holy music from God that we must lift everybody else up to believe in. We now believe in a multicultural world where everybody brings music If that is connected to their own humanity that deserves to be heard and deserves to be respected and honoured in the same way as the music from our past. I have Slovak and Hungarian ancestry. Right. My grandmother was really attached to classical music. I grew up with it in my family. So I had some, you know, respect and honour for because it was around in my life. But we have so many people in our country now that do not come from a European ancestral heritage, who do not connect with that music. It’s not part of their cultural heritage. Yes, there’s Yes, certain called acculturation. And acculturation is when a dominant political body forces the sub dominant body to give up their culture and adopt the other culture in order to be accepted into the community. And I talked about this in another presentation, I gave the voice Foundation. And I said that essentially, I named a county out in LA, this county is like 90%, Latino folks, that if you are a kid, high school kid in this community who wants to be a music teacher, you have to give up your cultural heritage. Let’s say your family immigrated here from Mexico, you have to give up that cultural heritage. You have to adopt the art song heritage, American European, you still are adopting our song heritage, because that’s the only way you can get into 90 something percent of music schools in this country for music? Ah, yes, yes, then get into study music education. And you have to give up your cultural heritage for four years to pass your juries because the only way you pass juries is if you sing your French, German and Italian art song, the student then graduates four years later, a master of this European cultural heritage to go back to their community, their Latinos community, where they then are going to have to teach the people in their community who do not identify with that cultural heritage, and they’re stuck to have to figure out how to do it on their own.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:51

Oh, my gosh, we can’t operate

Matt Edwards  31:52

that way. No, no, a better more just society. We still start honouring and acknowledging everyone’s cultural heritage deserves a place. We have to honour where it comes from, and teach it. And we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area. Also,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:10

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. This makes no sense. But

Matt Edwards  32:30

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, cool, I’m going to suppress all these things. They’re not sitting around deciding and centralised 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’s like my puzzle. That’s fun for me. But it’s not to a 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 write a song. They also

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  33:13

need to understand what a pentatonic scale Yeah, they got to also think outside of bancaria and analysis, right?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:18

Yes, yeah. So

Matt Edwards  33:19

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 Shenandoah. Yes,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  33:49

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, I would

Matt Edwards  34:05

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 what 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 wanted 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 doctorate 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 have people with the qualifications to teach the thing that I think a growing number of us realise needs to be taught. Well,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:44

that’s fun. Yeah, there’s quite a number of comments that 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 would deem 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 career for 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 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 gonna 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 there 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  39:05

I don’t know. I think there’s a whole other line of research that needs to be done. I have 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, you know, 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 rung. It’s still proof throughout 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 will go. Like, what are you gonna 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. The average is pretty, pretty bad. I had lots of D’s and F’s passed, I still pass out all

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  40:37

kinds of academic awards when you get into college.

Matt Edwards  40:40

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. 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  41:16

and that’s okay. Okay,

Matt Edwards  41:20

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.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  41:32

And those those students still exists, 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 hear it, am I allowed to talk? I mean, yeah, I mean, there’s an Incoming, incoming freshman who came in and

Matt Edwards  41:52

they had been told before they got here,

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  41:54

that they’ve 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 this 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 a seaman martial 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  43:40

And the thing is, is it’s 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 are 20,000 is probably at least that are not in the form. 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 in 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. The 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 than they need to musical theatre and the skill set they need to work through the Golden Age rep to contemporary rep and the PA approch in 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 have no friends whose kids have been told this who are then their kids are going to major 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  45:34

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, have 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, right around

Matt Edwards  47:10

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

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  47:14

let’s just say even if there were 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 them in those programmes is going to come from if there’s no teeth, 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? Well, it

Matt Edwards  48:04

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 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 that 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. Seniors that we have now. Yes, 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 ours. Plot 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 slot 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 to get started on exposure. Yes, 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 the classical music and there’s always going to be Juilliard. There’s always going to be the Cleveland Institute of Music. It’s always gonna be a need for those specialised opera training programmes. Yes, not going away. But it’s time to diversify where we can and serve the clients that we can. And

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  52:15

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, for 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 point where 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  53:53

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. No, yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  54:03

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 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  54:44

Yeah. You know, the sad thing as I know you’ve come across this in your research says 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 can Continuing Education requirements, I mean, the dog groomer has to go get continuing education and a licence. You know, barber 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. Yeah,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  55:23

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  56:03

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. And

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  56:35

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 its teeth? No, and you’re absolutely not 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 master, 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 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%

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  58:00


Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  58:02

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 specific sound. And and also, like, when we live I mean, I don’t want to go into the term talk. But we could talk about how a ccm how 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 Yes or import. Right? Yeah. So yes, there’s r&b, 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? Yeah, 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 most part, it’s really what the student wants a student led. And

Matt Edwards  59:37

yeah, that’s hard, because a lot of our teachers that we work with, were never given that opportunity themselves. A teacher said to that, Oh, buddy, yes. So you 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 where

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:00:11

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. And

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  1:00:40

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

Matt Edwards  1:01:05

gonna say but it is also happening. Look nats with Alan Henderson is the executive director has changed love Allen ways. If he 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 use a little bit too much of well, that’s not the right way to do it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:02:33

Oh, yes, you only have to read the forum’s 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  1:03:01

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 this

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:12

isn’t Yes.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  1:03:13

Are we allowed to talk about what that is? Oh, yeah, no, I don’t. I also

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:21

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 is 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  1:04:15

Yeah, yeah. No, I totally Yes.

Matt Edwards  1:04:19

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 said enough, and we withdrew, because we knew that NASM was holding us back.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  1:04:34

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

Matt Edwards  1:04:40

I don’t 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 it’d 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 holding us down

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  1:05:53

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 as well, as everybody

Matt Edwards  1:06:09

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

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  1:06:15

And then the other the other thing too, if we wanted to talk about going down the pipeline, I, 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

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:07:13

great. But they do here in Australia, and

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  1:07:16

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. It’s 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 and what’s what’s

Matt Edwards  1:07:42

interesting is that the music educators, so the people, so 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, they came 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, it 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 to 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 happened 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 CCNA su 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 I 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. I mean, you can but it’s not going to work. It’s not going to connect. So

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:09:38

it wouldn’t help my stress levels it would, it would make mine peak. And

Matt Edwards  1:09:43

there was research done that looked at the first six months of music therapists careers in 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 Seeing the kind of stuff that they’re going to sing once they’re actually in the clinic. Yes. And 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  1:10:48

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 almost 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  1:11:24

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, and and listen, really listen to them. And and also listen to your student. And 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 say 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  1:12:31


Matt Edwards  1:12:32

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,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:12:49

that no, that’s different. Yes, COVID.

Matt Edwards  1:12:52

And it was real bad. And she got to haemorrhage. I 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, the surgeons 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 do. I don’t have no cases of 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 the 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 you needed. 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. Being 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.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:14:56

That’s amazing other

Matt Edwards  1:14:58

brilliant student who’s on emotion and 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

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  1:15:16

is just the big motions are on outside the

Matt Edwards  1:15:18

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, that 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 go on to 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 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  1:16:57

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

Matt Edwards  1:17:04

That’s a win. 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  1:17:13

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 and see 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. Thank

Matt Edwards  1:18:29

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 gonna 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  1:18:44

You know what, any time I’m up for it, and you can go as deep as you want here. Thank you. It’s so good. Thank you so much. And you better go check on those kids.

Jacqlyn Zito-Edwards  1:18:58

Yes, I feel nervous.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:19:00

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 write 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.