Category talk:Quick guide

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    I would like to take this opportunity to welcome everyone to Vocal Mechanism.   I hope that this class will provide  an opportunity to explore questions you may have about singing.  It is always invigorating for me  to teach this class because I  learn so much from my students.  I find that it can be a very stimulating experience for everyone because we all come from a variety of teaching experiences and have different areas of expertise. 
    Studying the vocal mechanism has helped me throughout my life.  As a student it helped me realize that I could improve my singing by understanding how the voice works at a deeper level.  It allowed me to better understand the advice that voice teachers, coaches, and conductors were giving me.   As  a graduate student it inspired me to become a voice teacher.    As a teacher, it has allowed me to better understand my students'  vocal issues.  
    In this course we will be studying the physiology of the the voice, however, it is my intention that we will discuss how to train singers and not just discuss what to train.   One of the goals for this class is to build a stronger relationship between the art of singing and the science of singing.  As teachers we are trying to not just teach singing with the information we have learned,  but also by  using our intuition and creativity.     The study of the vocal mechanism is not intended to restrict anyone's teaching, but rather give teachers more ideas on how to develop the singing voice and also to focus on the important aspects of voice science that can help us arrive at better solutions to some of the challenges we face in the classroom, choral rehearsal, and in private lessons.
    As we begin, try to think about some of the challenges you face in the classroom or in rehearsal.  Some of the challenges that many of us face are: 

How do we teach vocal technique that addresses the students' various learning styles?

How do we fit in teaching vocal technique while teaching the repertoire in a classroom setting?

Can students improve their sound without becoming too self-conscious or disinterested?

What kind of sound is appropriate for students in grades kindergarten through 6th grade?

How do we use the information from voice science and vocal pedagogy to best help our students?

How do we help the untuned singer?

How do we address the changing voice?

Please use the discussion post to tell us what grade levels you teach, and describe the issues that you face in the classroom. This will help direct our discussions as the semester progresses.

The text for Vocal Mechanism is called Teaching Kids to Sing by Kenneth Phillips. I have found this book to be very helpful to voice teachers and choral directors because the author has organized the book in a way that allows people to read the scientific information and then learn ways to apply this information through exercises and activities. The topics for this class will include, but are not limited to the following:

Release of tension and alignment

The breath mechanism/breath management

The vocal folds/phonation/onsets and release


Vocal registers

The changing voice/aging voice

Vocal health


You will enjoy reading various articles as well; as you revisit the different principles of singing, you may find that you will gain a deeper understanding of the material.

Please take a moment to review the syllabus and let me know if you have any questions. The syllabus will give you an overview of the topics we will be studying and discussing each week. It will also provide due dates for the assignments and quizzes. Weekly reminders will be posted as well. There will be a weekly opportunity to enter the class discussion. The participation part of the grade will be based on this. You should enter the discussion a minimum of 6 times in order to earn points for class discussion. There will be 3 assignments, 3 quizzes, and a final at the end of the semester. Please contact me if you have any questions.

I look forward to working with you very soon!