Can ORTHODOX MEN (CANTORS AND RABBIS) BE TAUGHT BY A WOMAN?
According to Halacha (Torah Law), a man is not allowed to hear the 'singing voice' of a woman - which would certainly mean that neither Cantors nor Rabbis would be able to study with Miriam Jaskierowicz Arman - but that is not the case.
Ms. Arman has based her teachings on the premise, that it is absolutely 'forbidden' for ANY teacher to sing to his student - to demonstrate to the student by using her /his own voice, or vocally 'showing the student' what it is 'supposed to sound like and how it is done'. This methodology applies to all teaching and in every genre, (Opera, Pop, Broadway, classical etc.) and is in no way limited to the religious aspects we are discussing here. The reasoning behind this seems rather simple and straight forward.
Case and point: A student comes to a teacher because he has heard of his or her fame, illustrious career, vocal capacities, expertise. From the onset, the level of respect for their accomplishments makes the student disposed toward listening to everything he/she (the teacher) has to say and of course, the student wishes to emulate his/her teacher in order to achieve his/her utmost potential. Everything the teacher will do, demonstrate, sing, in some way is going to influence the student's own production of voice and is therefor going to minimize his own thinking and his ability to develop his own individual vocal-ism and style etc. - After all, he wants to absorb what the teacher has to give and therefor will undoubtedly take on the mannerisms of the teacher.
This is unfortunately is a fact! Students come out of the studio of a particular teacher and have, too many times, taken on the vocal characteristics of the teachers work - obviously without ever having really discovered their own vocal individuality. Most of the time, that is NOT what the teacher wants or his intention, but it is nevertheless a direct result of this method of teaching.
Miriam Jaskierowicz Arman has been teaching orthodox Cantors and Rabbis all over the world since 1999. Her first Lubavitch student, a young Rabbi from Florida (USA), Rabbi Chai Amar of Golden Beach, arrived at her door step and changed the course of her life and certainly important aspects of her career. You may be certain that he does not imbue any of her vocal mannerisms...he totally has his own, in singing and in speaking.... Because of his personal successes as a Cantor, Speaker and Personality in the religious world, many,many orthodox men have found their way to Ms. Arman and have experienced the indescribable joy of not only finding 'A' voice, but finding 'THEIR OWN', G-d given instruments.
According to Ms. Arman, every singer, or person who sings, or wishes to sing deep down inside, has of course HIS/HER own voice - therefor his/her own mental image of the voice, his/her own production and relationship with sound - and most importantly, the EGO of his/her voice. This personal 'structure' of his/her instrument will and must always be first, otherwise he/she would NOT be a singer. When he/she gives the student an exercise, a phrase etc. it will, without a doubt, immediately appear in his/her own mind first. Only secondarily will he/she hear the voice of the student - the judgement of where what is or should be, or what it is supposed to sound like, will undoubtedly always be based on his/her own production first.
This makes complete sense of course and is totally natural as well - but in Ms. Arman's opinion, a methodology of demonstrating vocally, or influencing the students voice in any way other than verbally guiding it (the voice) into the right place and direction, according to IT'S need, is unhealthy and downright destructive to the student.
Therefor in all of her work, in her training of singers and teachers etc,. she does not allow the teacher to sing and she insists, that the teachers who have the true intention and vocation of teaching, will not sing during lessons and will never be singers. What is necessary for a teacher in her estimation, is impeccable technical skills of understanding every nuance of vocal production, a total familiarity of the physical and mental capacities of the student (male or female and in every genre of voice) and an absolute 'ego-less listening', based on a profound knowledge of the workings of the vocal instrument. The 'internal" connection to the students voice, which allows clear and unbiased evaluation, is key and must be achieved without the teachers preconceived notions of his/her own sound. The student needs to be served, not a singers/teachers musical/vocal ego.
Every note is important, every sound must be properly understood by the teacher, if not, it can influence the entire production.
A TEACHER IS NOT A SINGER - and since obviously Ms. Arman does not sing a note, it is absolutely 'halachically (according to Jewish law) possible and without a doubt appropriate, for orthodox men to study at the Institute and learn with Ms. Arman.
Ms. Arman began her public work in Israel by teaching Master Classes and giving private lessons at "Beit Sefer Hamerkazi shel Chazzanut" in Ramat Gan (Tel Aviv, Israel 2010/12). After the creation of the Int'l Institute Of Voice Development Ltd., she teaches Cantors and Rabbis in Israel and Internationally.