The Listening Body and the Power of the Good Ear



Formal musical training in the Western classical tradition was difficult for African Americans to obtain. Even while Marian Anderson had established a reputation as an outstanding singer early in her career, many of her auditions failed for logistical and racial reasons. Permission to fill out an application at one Philadelphia music school was refused outright. Friends and advisors pressed her to continue to seek formal education because if she hoped to enter the classical arena, her voice needed the particular aspects of musical refinement offered by study of the operatic repertoire. Having started with a voice that had been largely shaped through gospel choir experience in an African American church in Philadelphia, Anderson’s sense of comfort with operatic pedagogy took her through trials with several teachers well into her twenties.1


Classical Music African American Church Music Lesson Music Teacher Musical Taste 
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© Ruth Gustafson 2009

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