Welcome to the new look eZINE (to go with our new look website)
In this edition we introduce our new blog and share our articles on singing voice
Dr Gillyanne talks about the last seven years of study
We highlight our Performer’s Retreat
And we reveal the final results of our online training survey
New Vocal Process articles on singing voice
So many of you have written to us over the years telling us how much you have enjoyed our articles on singing voice, speaking and performing techniques. We’ve taken the best of them and put them all in one place on the new Vocal Process articles blog. You can click on the Blog button on the vocalprocess.co.uk navigation bar to find out more, but here are just a few for you to enjoy
Our first article is currently being shared around the twittersphere:
Er, which vowel should I sing?
Vocal tips for singers and singing teachers: improving your resonance with “er”
Gillyanne here. Jeremy often complains about my erring and umming when he’s editing the Vocal Process videos and Webinars. Of course it’s a trait of an auditory processor, who makes a noise while they’re thinking. So is “er” ever useful?
Er is often shunned as a vowel in singing, especially in traditional teaching, because it isn’t part of the Italian vowel set. And as we know, Italian – bel canto – is claimed to be the sine qua non of classical singing. Except of course if you happen to be singing in English, as personally I prefer to hear my English Song unmangled. Er is called the schwah in phonetics, and the English language is full of them.
So here are 3 situations in which I use ‘er’ positively for resonance and placement:
And we don’t just cover vocal technique – here’s a take from Jeremy on performance and rhythm
Rhythm and pulse
Rhythm and Pulse exercise for cool, swinging singing
You don’t have to sing louder or higher to make the music swing – it’s all in the beat. Here’s a story of a coaching session I gave in Stockholm recently where I used the Rhythm and Pulse exercise to help a singer give a much cooler, stronger performance.
During a musical theatre class, one singer arrived with the piece “What’s the Buzz” from Jesus Christ Superstar, the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical. He was performing it well, but his whole body was involved with the (very fast) pulse inherent in the song. He was bouncing with every eighth note and was displaying a highly tensioned body which was detracting from his performance, both vocally and as an actor.
Rather than getting him to sing stronger or higher, I took him through the following exercise for finding a different pulse…
Did you know that “sing vibrato” is one of the most searched for terms on the internet? Here’s how you do it
Singing with vibrato – different ways of learning how to sing vibrato
Pant, wobble and cry: exercises for singing with vibrato
I have had a number of actors arrive in my studio with the question “how can I learn to sing vibrato?” They complain that their singing is straight, and are searching for the warmth and roundness that they hear other singers producing.
Singing with vibrato depends on the repertoire you sing, the emotion you want to portray, and the genre in which you perform. It also depends on personal and societal taste – I am occasionally surprised at the extremes of vibrato that appear in performances of both 19th century Opera and 21st century Musical Theatre. Still, one man’s bleat is another man’s shimmer.
Here are three areas to explore when searching for “your vibrato”:
You may have noticed that we’ve changed Gillyanne’s title on the website to Dr Gillyanne Kayes. It’s the culmination of seven years of doctoral research (during which we also moved house, wrote four books on children’s singing, and created a chapter on contemporary vocal pedagogy for the Oxford Handbook of Singing).
“I started doing my PhD at the age of 50, after almost 30 years away from academia (my first degree was a BA in music from York university). I’m often asked why I put myself through the experience of becoming a student again when I already had a great teaching career. The answer is always the same – I did not want to see the ‘top of my tree’ – I wanted to grow – and I felt that research into singing voice was the right direction for me.
Doing a PhD is not for the faint-hearted: it requires the ability to think analytically and strategically, to be single-minded and organised, and most of all it requires staying power! I chose the Institute of Education for my place of study because I had seen my main supervisor, Professor Graham Welch, present at a conference, and liked his approach. I knew that he had practical experience of singing and music, not just theoretical and I had two colleagues who were already working with him and who were happy. What I didn’t know was that I would have access to a second supervisor – none other than Professor Johan Sundberg from Stockholm – an amazing stroke of serendipity.”
Our fifth Performer’s Retreat is coming up at the end of May. It’s a completely bespoke course for performers wanting to improve their craft. So before we talk about who it’s aimed at, here’s who it’s NOT aimed at.
You’ll be expected to sing and experiment with your voice throughout the course, so if you need persuasion to sing in front of others, this is NOT the course for you.
If you’re afraid to find out what’s holding you back from better singing, better performing or a better career, this is NOT the course for you.
If you don’t know your own mind and you can’t tell bull from butter, this is NOT the course for you.
On previous Performer’s Retreats we’ve given training on vocal technique, presentation skills, character work, emotion work, authenticity, repertoire and style (vocal, music and acting). We’ve also given career advice and a bespoke plan for how to move up in your chosen field. Past participants have gone on to star in musicals, get new jobs and record albums, and even to change career direction successfully.
We can’t tell you what else is involved in the Performer’s Retreat because we build the weekend entirely around you and your needs. And we do push you to achieve your best.
The results of our 2014 online training Webinar survey
Thank you to everyone who participated in our short survey on what you’d like to see us teach online in 2014.
The results are in and the top singing technique topics you voted for are:
3. Putting vocal technique into the song
We’ve already tackled the first two topics for you. Webinar 16 – Troubleshooting 1: Breathing! went live on January 21st. We included exercises on four types of breathing technique and why they work for different vocal tasks. We had a great response to this one and a number of you have downloaded the Replay. “Really interesting. Loved going over all the physiological stuff and getting some really good exercises to make students think about breath” “Much more detailed than I thought it would be”
Webinar 17 covered the second topic – Troubleshooting 2: Range!We examined the various myths circulating about range and why they’re misleading, Gillyanne shared three case histories on improving and increasing range in West End singers (in one case an extra 6th in one lesson), and we examined five areas of the voice that contribute to efficient range work. “Very clear and specific. Endorsed what I have been saying to my students for several years. Gave me the backup of scientific evidence and your extensive experience” The Replay is still available so you can check out our solutions to vocal range issues straight away
Webinar 18 will be on the third topic, Putting Vocal Technique Into The Song. This is such an important topic as learning technique means very little until it’s put into a context. We’ll be showing you how to apply your technique to song situations, and how to reverse engineer the song to improve your technique! Keep your eyes peeled for more details shortly.