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The various "schools" of vocal teaching?

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timmyo
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As an inexperienced student of singing it's becoming clear to me that there are these various systems out there, and that some share a common basis in technical approach or vocal 'ideology' but that to the uninitiated those with initially similar or contradictory approaches aren't entirely obvious.

The teachers and more experienced folks use the various teachers' names and systems as a kind of conversational shorthand and us "noobs" are therefore perhaps left in the margins of those discussions, unintentionally.

So how would people go about cataloguing or comparing a various approaches that get discussed around these parts?

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Great question... there needs to be a vocal Rosetta Stone to assist in this regard. I encourage you to reach out and address your question to one our members, Steve Fraser. Who is also very active on the TMV forum... I think you enjoy what you here?

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...i think the reason there is all this confusion is because when people talk about their systems, they are basing their ideas on arbitrary things like sensation, visuals etc etc... but they rarely support their systems with the actual physiological changes that take place. which would give a more complete picture of what actually happens.

therefore when people talk without the anatomical specificity and physiological part its indeed hard to follow and understand. cause they end up talking about subjective truths rather than objective facts.

for example... many talk about projecting the voice... seeing the note between the eyes[ alfredo kraus], supporting the note and having a bitting sensation[ pavarotti] etc etc without ever talking about what actually happens with the vocal folds to create the wanted result... which is... a strong projection of the sound because the the vocal folds get together they dont allow air to escape... therefore creating stronger sound waves in the vocal folds.

from what i ve gathered by studying and reading about ''the voice''... we are NOW reaching a time when all these things are gonna start becoming clearer... we were in the dark ages where a few blessed ones achieved incredible results... and the rest of the people that needed specificity where left in the dark. now we are entering the times of open and clear knowledge. it will take a while though before people start using the SAME TERMS FOR THE SAME THINGS.

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There's no problem as long as the teacher doesn't shuv his sensations through your throat. Sensations are often really good to learn.

I welcome the plurality rather then be angry about it (allthough I was once there.) However do you want everything to be prechewed for you or do you really wanna get it.

There are also different type of learners. Some (like me) really have a hard time with people talking scientific bs, others might not even want a scientific explanation, they say if I can't see it who cares, and rather have an image.

In the end we are all different, so we should be happy that singing education isn't uniform, cse it would then be centered on one type, wheras now we have a sea of different approaches to pick from, whatever makes us learn the fastest!

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Great question... there needs to be a vocal Rosetta Stone to assist in this regard. I encourage you to reach out and address your question to one our members, Steve Fraser. Who is also very active on the TMV forum... I think you enjoy what you here?

Timyo:

As Rob said, I have raised my hand to be the focal point of a vocal terminology project here at TMV. The goal of the project is to identify systems of terminology (pedagogies), provide descriptions of terms within those systems, and a 'crosswalk' of equivalent terms which are used in more than 1 system, when that occurs. It seems to me that the first section (identifying a system of terminology) could be enriched to summarize the scope and approach of the pedagogy.

How would that fit with what you have in mind?

Steve

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There's no problem as long as the teacher doesn't shuv his sensations through your throat. Sensations are often really good to learn.

I welcome the plurality rather then be angry about it (allthough I was once there.) However do you want everything to be prechewed for you or do you really wanna get it.

There are also different type of learners. Some (like me) really have a hard time with people talking scientific bs, others might not even want a scientific explanation, they say if I can't see it who cares, and rather have an image.

In the end we are all different, so we should be happy that singing education isn't uniform, cse it would then be centered on one type, wheras now we have a sea of different approaches to pick from, whatever makes us learn the fastest!

ok. that great. and i agree that whatever makes you learn is good. and its true that people learn in different ways.

so... a more precise reasoning would be: ''its important to back up with facts whatever is preached, and use any way that is suitable for the pupil to get the wanted result.'' but a good teacher should be able to provide you with both.. right? and then YOU find what works for you.

in other words... too much knowledge doesnt harm anybody

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I guess, Im still wondering what your question is? Would you like some pontifications on the different major camps? At the risk of an 89 post blow-out here... we TMV vets can more or less agree that there are a lot of good training systems out there and most of them teach similar things, with some variation. The big difference is the language and terminology... To be completely honest, if you latch on to any of the great training systems, your going to learn something and get better. Its when you get further along in your training that you may seek certain techniques to take you to advanced specialties and stylistic coaching.

But to answer your question, TVS is the best.

... Ok guys, relax... Im just jesting... "incoming Martin-CVI-isms!!!"... look out!

:lol:

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HAHAHAHA :lol:

Actually I really like your program Robert(and I only have the "old" one)!!

What I find great is that you ocassionally update your program when needed! Ex. the twang function. You have your eyes and ears open for new knowledge in vocal science and other vocal pedagogies and incorporate what you think is important into your own program. It's really important NOT to be conservative and you have always been openminded(though we have had our battles LOL). And also your vision with TMV shows a full hearted openness to a LOT of different views! We can all learn from each other. :)

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Yes guys......to cover learning first......people have different learning styles, if you have ever worked in business and training you will know these. Suffice to say there are those who need the detail logically, visually and there are those who need to feel and learn intuitively. All these make up our world of teachers and singers.

Voice science has one part and voice intuition has the other part, together they make up the whole.

A number of people have asked about a more organised way to check out the teachers on the site, this will come as we develop the site. For now I believe all the teachers are basically teaching the same thing in a myriad of ways and methods and sometimes new things come through from the very progressive people pioneering voice pedagogy. We have CVI, Robert Lunte, Jeannie Deva, Bel Canto, Estill, SLS, etc etc and all have credible methods and all have vocal success. As in all of life a student should go to several teachers and then with the knowledge and training develop themselves on.

For me, I can take in the science, but to me singing is from my soul and heart and it was voice healing that took me into new realms for my voice. Now I combine those techniques with some performance singing technique for my own teaching. Each teacher has something to offer even if it is only to shed light on another teachers training by explaining it differently. That is the joy of human expression, teaching and learning. love H :cool:

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Hi Tim,

Here in the U.S. we're having a huge debate about faith vs. science, mostly centered on Darwin vs. Adam and Eve, and I can't help but see a comparison to your question. TMV is a fairly new community, and in the short few weeks since I've joined, it's occurred to me that more members are involved in what's been termed CCM (commercial contemporary music) than in what might be called 'classical' voice. I sing in a church choir, but I also have an avid interest in the voice and how it works. That said, the need for some form of terminology touchstone has been recognized, and Dr. Fraser has volunteered the herculean effort of putting it together -- not just the formally accepted terminology but also the jargon terminology that hits the streets as each day passes. He has his work cut out for him, but it is urgently needed.

If I understand your wishes, I'd recommend that you purchase a copy of Johan Sundberg's excellent book "The Science of the Singing Voice." Johan stands today as certainly the most respected and knowledgeable expert on the voice and how it works, and is a wonderful writer and a close friend as well. In his book, he covers in a very accessible way the entire gamut from physiology to physics, with clear illustrations throughout. It is not a weighty tome, and when you finish it, you will fully understand how the voice works, what you're dealing with and what vocal teachers are faced with.

Another, though older, work is "The Science of Vocal Pedagogy: Theory and Application" by D. Ralph Appelman. Dr. Appelman has written a classically excellent work, including X-ray pictures of the vocal tract and its many formants that are used to sing the full IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) sound vocabulary. He also explains how and why each of these needs to be adjusted slightly depending on its pitch, because the pitch and the formants need to be aligned in order to clearly enunciate each syllable in a song. After you read it, you will understand why formal voice training is a demanding study.

The job of the vocal teacher or coach is to somehow evoke these sounds from your body in a manner that does no harm to your vocal anatomy and also meets your own personal learning style. To find the teacher who 'speaks your language' you need to discuss with each of them their methods and their beliefs (yes, "beliefs"). In this huge world of ours, and certainly in our growing TMV community, teachers run the entire gamut from Darwin to Adam and Eve. Some are religious attendees at the annual voice conferences and both learn and contribute to the field. Others are followers of subjective methods, either developed by themselves or patterned after a named style of teaching. And others are otherwise.

People are each unique, and what works for one turns off the other. Some of us feel that simply freeing the voice and letting you sing is what's needed, and others work intensely on details of technique that need to be progressively mastered. Which style works best for you is impossible to answer, but the more you understand how he voice works, the more ready you'll be to decide how to approach it. What worked for me was a solo venture, using HearFones so that I could actually hear how my voice sounds while I'm singing, and then playing around with Sundberg and Appelman to hear what they meant in actual practice. But that may not work for you . . .

Pete

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Great post Pete....I would just add something.....we are all born with the capacity to sing....singing is our birthright. Technique experts are not always the best singers...and that is because the mind gets in the way of the voice in it's pure expression. Only 20% of singing is technique.:lol:

Many top stars have great voices without training, what they need training for is to be able to deliver commercial consistency and cope with the rigours of touring shedules to keep their voice health in top condition and sing at the top of their profession.

I actually believe from my knowledge, training and intuitive wisdom that the voice is an expression of the sound inside us, not something produced from the voice box. If you lose your voice box you cannot make a singing sound because the box can not channel the sound through it any longer. Our whole cellular biology SINGS....you have to go deep into sound healing science to discover this and that science includes feeling it yourself!

The vocal folds and larynx just bring through the sound waves on air waves.....however, you might like to take a look at a new member GFIRE who uses the knowledge of George White and singing via the sinus cavities. The sinus cavities certainly hold resonance, personally I am not sure about nasal sounds they only bring through a part of our true sound in my experience and acute listening. However she has quite a unique voice and I plan to find out more for myself.

It goes back to all teachers have something to offer and YOU hold the key as to who YOU choose. only a few methods are unique, most teachers are teaching a combination of tried and tested voice exercises, physical exercises and introducing new regimes.

I find that the only way to learn to sing is TO DO IT and PRACTISE IT and use safe techniques. The uniqueness is yours, the technique is only to help you discover that uniqueness and sing safely. You cannot learn to sing reading about it only and discussing it only.....you have to spend time and dedication to DOING it ;)

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I agree, Pete...Vocal training is indeed like religion. And we should be very careful when uttering the phrase "Thus sayeth the Lord"! A member of a non-demoninational prayer group I'm in illustrated it like this: Say I'm in the kitchen of an apartment and someone asks me what the apartment looks like. I'm going to describe it much differently than my sister who's in the bathroom and my brother who's in the garage. We do best when we come up with a composite. This does NOT, however, mean that everything is the truth. If someone says the apartment has a wall made out of swiss cheeze and chocolate milk comes out the bathtub faucet, well... I don't think so.

Basically in agreement with all here, there are many ways to correctly teach voice. I have bought training method products from several teachers here and I can honestly say I've learned things I didn't know from each one. I don't usually agree 100% with a method (other than my PPP, of course :) ), but even when I disagree I do so knowing that I just can't make it work for ME, and it may just be my application of the technique. Where I DO agree, I pass the info on to others and credit the original teacher from whom I learned it.

However, there are wrong ways, too. One of the most beautiful things about this site is that if one of us were to offer harmful, weakening or useless technique, he or she would be busted quickly with passionate disagreement, proofs and reasons for the alternate viewpoint. This is a tough room!! :/

Great question raise here. Timmyo, yes, you will find things over your head (sometimes mine as well) as vocal science authorities discuss the intricacies of vocal mechanics, but of course you also find a plethora of readily understood information you can quickly apply to help you. I am personally thankful for all the levels of vocal scientists and vocal teachers of all sorts here. Teachers like Hilary speak to the intricate connection the mind and emotions make to vocal ablilty or dysfunction. I am grateful to be able to throw my ideas out to TMV's discussion walls to see what sticks... and more appropriately, what WORKS.

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In my view technique is the tool to express your feelings and shouldn't be underestimated.

Having lots of emotions doesn't make you a good singer. Knowing how to make those emotions be understood by your audience is.

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Yes but technique without soul is cold singing. There are expert singers technically and there are GREAT singers with technique and soul who move the listener. It's not just emotion, it's singing from your whole being! :lol:

By the way Elrathion it would be nice to see you contribute on the main site with some in -depth blogs? As a member of our Voice Council the rest of the members would like to hear your teaching wisdom I am sure! :P

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I have written one just now Hilary :>

And I know what you mean. But it's something that puzzles me. Because whatever you wanna express needs to be put in musical language or people won't feel it as much. It's not necc. about what you FEEL but about making others FEEL what you wanna express.

Maybe we should make a different thread on this topic :P

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Wow - some very interesting and informative responses there : thanks to all concerned for taking so much time to reply and take the conversation on.

Reflecting on the responses, it seems there is plenty to come in terms of cataloguing this body of knowledge, which sounds like a huge and worthwhile undertaking. I suppose my initial query is a less academic one: Are there generally accepted to be a smaller number of broad-brush approaches to teaching singing, upon which the myriad of contemporary (and not so contemporary) systems/approaches/brands are based upon? And if so, where would the systems and teachers who get name-checked both here and elsewhere (either in scholarly discussion of advertising - the latter being where the majority of students will come across them I'd wager) be pigeon-holed according to those overarching approaches?

I appreciate this is a blunt instrument in terms of cataloguing or starting to understand the approaches, but only if taken at face value. I suspect that for the relatively inexperienced singer a discussion that drew this information out would be both interesting and useful, by encouraging exploration of alternatives (right now I couldn't tell you which teachers or systems overlap and which are genuinely philosophically different) as well as giving insight as to whether one teacher's positive comments about another might be genuine professional admiration despite them being proponents of differing, perhaps even opposing points of view.

I hope I'm putting this across right : this comes from a genuine desire to understand some of the things which seem to underpin other discussions here and elsewhere which I think less experienced folks miss out on the relevance of.

cheers,

T

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Timmyo.....I suggest you do an advanced search on the main site of Voice Teachers put YES in the field and then look at them and what they have to offer. Our long term aim is to organise this better but we are still in early stages on the community development..it will come.

My own course is open amd good for beginners, but so to are the courses of my colleagues, you will be guided to what you need once you look.

love Hilary ;)

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Hi Tim,

From my engineering and love-of-music perspective, I can see lots of answers to your question.

First, let's consider just the word "singing." Around here, we've come to a sort of understanding that singing has many dimensions. We've argued for nearly ten years about "what makes for the best quality singing" and have generally reached agreement that a young mother singing to her baby is the bulls-eye of quality singing. Beautiful, non-confrontational, loving, gentle . . . And we've generally agreed that "singing" entails the use of pitch and time, and is probably distinguished from "poetry" in that it does not need to use "language" (verbal expression, with or without text).

That said, there are many ways to communicate with singing, and some of them are angry or hateful. A song that has a title and verse like "Hit Me Baby One More Time" or where the singer feels compelled to bite the head off a chicken during the performance does not fall under the topic of "best quality," and yet it certainly says a lot about the singer, the song or the songwriter. Even the fact that a singer sings the songwriter's song says something about the singer.

Let's confine ourselves to the quality stuff first. Let's say there's a young (or older) person who "wishes they could sing." We hear this ALL the time. Now, if this person had no language, or was in a foreign land, they certainly could express themselves using pitch and timing alone. As Hilary has said elsewhere: "I have traveled quite a bit of the world and have been able to converse with people with no language proficiency simply through the RESONANCE of VOWEL SOUNDS."

Our standard reply to these folks is "I don't know how to play golf, either, but I know I can, if I take a few lessons." I suppose that's unfair to say to a quadriplegic, but no more so than "that's silly; anyone can sing." What we do is offer them some first hand acquaintance with our "musical scale" -- since it's an arbitrary and societal invention -- and then offer them a set of HearFones so they can hear themselves sing and practice their scales, intonation and voice.

This flies somewhat in the face of the 'traditional' approach of having a "coach" or "teacher" who listens to you and then tells you what's wrong and how to right it, but we also know that far too many "recording artists" have foul voices and yet multi-mega-million dollar sales. They thereby have defined their own "style" and extended it by recordings to listeners throughout the world.

HearFones let these "noobs" hear themselves as the listener (or sadly more often, the microphone) hears them. Armed with this new information on-the-fly, in real-time, they immediately modify and learn habits from the sounds they want to produce. They also learn to avoid 'screaming' or over-driving their vocal folds into distortion and non-linear regions that cause damage to them.

Once they build some decent habits of arriving at pitch, of breathing properly, of sensing physical harm, they are better positioned to explore their voice safely and to have fun doing it.

Instructors or coaches can apply their own knowledge and experience to encourage the shy singer, to help them find a voice they need for a certain message, to point out clinically safe practices, and to meet them "where they're at" -- that is, to communicate with them inside their personal comfort zone. Sometimes this takes a psychological approach, as Hilary uses; other time it takes a clinical approach, such as an otolaryngologist or a speech-language pathologist visit, and other times it calls for a simple scientific understanding of how the voice works.

Which I think explains why there are so many "schools of thought" -- or to use your own words "approaches" -- on singing. With luck, you'll find them all here.

Pete

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Well said but Pete....... my course is very practical, not psychological, I use vowels as the base and teach many practical exercises. :lol:H take a look in my True Voice Group the course is broken down there. ;)

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