“Okay, as you can tell, we have absolutely no idea where this podcast is going”
In the ninth episode of our #ThisIsAVoice podcast, voice experts and authors Gillyanne and Jeremy riff about how they do what they do and how they help singers and teachers in “making it work”.
- The good and bad bits of being creative teachers.
- The three most important things that make us great teachers
- What it means to create 130+ resources in different formats
- Musical experience (and the difference between musical learning and application)
- Why we love words (and what type of books we read)
- Communication and context, rhythm and pulse and singing AND speaking
- Our different takes on “the interconnectedness of things”
- Finding song repertoire by voice type, range, genre, composer, show, lyricist or period for different ages and abilities.
A real behind-the-scenes peek at how two talented musicians live and create together – it’s their personal guide to making it work.
Sponsored by Vocal Process
Three Songlists (General, Specialist MT female, Specialist MT male) https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/LessonPlans
Online Professional Development Webinars https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/Webinars
Online courses (Popup workshops and Online Singing Teacher Training) https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/Singingcoursesandretreats
The One Minute Voice Warmup app
Gary Provost “This sentence has five words” text: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/373814-this-sentence-has-five-words-here-are-five-more-words
Oren Boder’s SOVT straw and free ebook https://ob1store.co.uk/?ref=VOCALPROCESS
AMAs for Oren (our next podcast) or for us https://speakpipe.com/Vocalprocess
Vocal Process Online Singing Teacher Training https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/singing-teacher-training-online
Keep your eyes peeled for the public Popup Masterclasses here: https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/
Below is the transcript of the whole episode – you can listen on your favourite podcast platform (we’re on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and a host of others) or click on this link to go to our own This Is A Voice podcast website: https://thisisavoice.buzzsprout.com
This Is A Voice podcast episode 9 – Making it work
This is a Voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.
Hello and welcome to I think this is podcast nine. I’m Jeremy Fisher.
Gillyanne Kayes 0:26
And I’m Gillyanne Kayes. Good morning.
Hello, good evening, wherever you are. Um, what is the topic today?
Gillyanne Kayes 0:34
I’ve written down, make it work,
Make it work!
Gillyanne Kayes 0:39
This tells you something about the television programmes that we tend to watch. Yeah, it’s Runway, isn’t it?
Runway? Certainly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Okay, as you can tell, we have absolutely no idea where this podcast is going
Gillyanne Kayes 0:52
Have we prepared for?
Normally, we have quite an interesting list of things that we want to talk about. And today, this was sort of originally my idea. And we’re talking about making it work and how we work and, how we have come to create so many resources. And what are the upsides and what are the downsides of being creative teachers?
Gillyanne Kayes 1:15
Yes. And I’m going to tell you why this is on our mind, particularly at the moment. For the last six months what it’s almost, it’s longer that that isn’t it, it’s seven months now since lockdown. Like most of you, we’ve been riding the wave, you know, kind of going along with it. And it’s been a good time for us in terms of how we’ve been able to connect with the voice community, we feel very fortunate. But nevertheless, we’ve been riding a wave. And now what we’re doing is we’re actually taking some time, more or less off
Gillyanne Kayes 1:48
Yeah, we are tired. As we would say in the UK, we are knackered
We are knackered. It’s been really interesting. Because prior, to I think we may have said this already, but prior to lockdown, we’d actually taken almost a year where we’d started to ease up on what we were doing.
Gillyanne Kayes 2:04
Yeah, we called it the deep thought
Deep thought moment. And because we wanted to know where we were going, what we were doing what we’d already done, because sometimes when you when you do things, you don’t recognise what they are, you just do them and move on. But you don’t recognise what they are. And you don’t necessarily recognise how powerful they are, and what effect they have on people. And it’s really interesting, just looking at the list, we have something approaching 136 different resources.
Gillyanne Kayes 2:35
I know. And look, I’ve got to say that when we’ve taken biz advice, which we have. One of the big things that comes up is brand ID. Okay, we have a lovely, strong name Vocal Process for voices that work. But what we found out is that
people don’t know what we do
Gillyanne Kayes 2:54
People don’t know what we do. And that can be an issue when you’re running a small business, I guess what’s been good for us about lockdown is that we really focused on working with teachers.
Gillyanne Kayes 3:09
And that’s kind of really strengthened our our brand identity
Can I have a small rant just right now.
Only if it’s a small one
It’s a small one. I remember talking to somebody that we were working with, and he said, Oh, you know, somebody was telling me about you. And he said, Oh, I know everything about their work. And I thought I know that person, that person has been on one one-day course with us. It is impossible to know everything about our work. Even people who’ve been on three day courses go “can we do another three day course”. And then they discover that we actually know a lot more than than that original three day course. And when you think that we have actually produced over 130 resources. That’s not we’re not repeating ourselves in those resources. We know such a lot of stuff. And that’s gonna sound like a big, it’s gonna sound like a big boast. And in fact, it isn’t. Because the whole process of us creating resources is about getting information out to people that we have
Gillyanne Kayes 4:04
It’s just what we do. And the thing is we’ve been doing it for 22 and a half years, something like that. Yeah. And 21 years of them in business together.
And 20 of the married.
Gillyanne Kayes 4:17
I did. I did. Yes, we’ve done really well, haven’t we?
We’re still talking to each other
Gillyanne Kayes 4:22
Congratulations, Mr. And Mrs. Fisher
Gillyanne Kayes 4:26
So I did write a little list of things that we have. We’ve done you if you go on to our website.
Oh, can we just talk about the website
Gillyanne Kayes 4:35
How many pages on the website Jeremy?
I cut it down to 250 pages. And that’s not including the store
Gillyanne Kayes 4:42
It used to be over 300 pages
It actually used to be over 400 pages and people just got completely lost.
Gillyanne Kayes 4:46
And websites have changed. You know, when when we first sort of put the website or that version of the website together, often they were there was loads of information on them and you know, lots and lots of different tabs to go through. Since really the mobile phone has taken off, and everyone has a smartphone, we need much smaller chunks of information
Go on to www.Vocalprocess.co.uk and admire the horror. That website is so old and we do apologise for it. So the part of the plan
Gillyanne Kayes 5:19
and this is one of the reasons why we’re taking time off
is to do a new website. Yes. So I mean, what will be really interesting is if you told us what you want on the website, because I know there are certain things that I want that we haven’t been able to put up front and centre, we have so many things like the BBC programme we did
Gillyanne Kayes 5:38
so we’ve got media stuff
With Michael Rosen, which is just gorgeous, half an hour of us training him to, to do the spoken voice exercises and stuff like that. And I’d love to go back on that programme and do singing voice as well. And then the interviews
Gillyanne Kayes 5:55
We could teach him to sing
Oh, I’d love to do that
Gillyanne Kayes 5:58
He’s doing quite well now he was very, very poorly.
So and then the the programmes where we were the voice gurus fo Cerys Matthews, yeah, she was just firing albums and CDs and voices at us and going analyse that sort of thing. That was fun.
Gillyanne Kayes 6:16
She was very good fun.
And then we’ve got a whole load of video stuff as well.
Gillyanne Kayes 6:21
And we’ve done courses for performers and for teachers for speech and language therapists – voice skills for speech and language therapists.
I think this is something that people don’t necessarily know about. We train speech and language therapists in vocal physiology
Gillyanne Kayes 6:37
in voice skills.
I mean, we actually show them how voices work, which is an interesting dichotomy, really, because you assume that slts will be incredibly knowledgeable about physiology, and there are gaps in the training.
Gillyanne Kayes 6:52
It’s more to do with the functional aspect because the mainstay of the training isn’t about voice. Voice is considered a sort of a subspecialty in speech and language therapy. Yeah, I hope I’m not misrepresenting our lovely SLT and SLP colleagues
Hello to the SLT SLP people. Drop us a note if we have misrepresented you
Gillyanne Kayes 7:17
And I think it is possibly more the case in training in the UK. Yeah, what else? Gosh, what are we done? Choral coaching, lots of choral coaching in different contexts. I
I mean, that’s your background really isn’t it?
Gillyanne Kayes 7:30
Sneeze is coming
Gillyanne Kayes 7:32
Okay, be aware that when Gillyanne sneezes, there’s normally about eight of them. That’s three. So that was Gillyanne sneezing, which went on for about four or five moments. And then, actually, it was really interesting, because the microphone picks up very, very clearly the state of your voice and your voice wasn’t quite back to normal.
Gillyanne Kayes 7:54
No, it wasn’t it felt a tiny bit croaky and a little bit trembly. Yeah.
So what did you do?
Gillyanne Kayes 8:00
Ah, well, can I see my little SOVT thing?
Yes. This is an SOVT straw. And this is relevant for our next podcast. This is the SOVT straw by OB1, which is a brilliant name. Oren Boder, who will be interviewing on the next podcast.
Gillyanne Kayes 8:19
So I did a little bit of…
my favourite voice exercise is to use the first phrases from that we’ve used in our This is a Voice book. This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five words sentences are fine, but several together become monotonous. And that is from Gary Provost. His book about a hundred best ways to write I think
it’s a really excellent paragraph. It actually goes on further but we use it because it’s a really nice paragraph sentence to use as a sort of, it’s not even an exercise. It’s a, it’s like a test.
Gillyanne Kayes 9:03
well, it’s and example. Well, maybe we’ll read the whole thing sometime because it has a really triumphant poetic ending. He understands that he understood that good writing was like music.
Yeah, we’ll put that in the description at the end, So we were talking about
Gillyanne Kayes 9:24
the fact that I had a background in choral singing
Choral singing and so we’ve done choral workshops. And we’ve done choral workshops with contemporary choirs. We’ve done choral workshops with non auditioned choirs, and we’ve done choral workshops with classical choirs. The last one we did was a…
Gillyanne Kayes 9:41
And barbershop, yes
Gillyanne Kayes 9:43
Both the guys and the ladies
and then we did a mixed one. Yep. The last workshop we did was a Verdi Requiem choral workshop, which is basically showing the choral singers how to cope with some of the real difficulties in the Verdi writing. Because some of it sits so high, some of it is really rhythmic. Some of it you want punch, some of it you want really diffused sound. So we were doing all sorts of exercises and techniques with them to make that performance really good.
Gillyanne Kayes 10:14
Oh, the frog is still here.
Gillyanne Kayes 10:20
That’s not me, by the way.
Gillyanne Kayes 10:21
That’s good. mucus is good for you.
Yeah. For those of you who don’t know, Mr. Jeremy Fisher is a character in Beatrix Potter stories. It’s the frog in Beatrix Potter. Remarkably stupid frog. I think so. I’m not that pleased. And the my parents did tell me that they didn’t know about the story when they named me and I’m thinking yes, so school was not fun. But people know my name now. Which is really interesting. Because they say Oh I’ve heard of you
Gillyanne Kayes 10:51
I’ve heard of you. We say nothing
We say nothing.
Gillyanne Kayes 10:54
So where did we get to?
I have no idea
Gillyanne Kayes 10:58
I did have this list in my head of choral, choral coaching,
Choral workshopw, audition workshops, schools workshops, insets, bespoke trainings, conferences. We do the lot.
Gillyanne Kayes 11:08
Yeah. And, you know, we were looking at our website and thinking, well, how are we going to trim this down? How do you what do we want it to tell people? And then it’s a real aaaargh moment? As in aaaarggggggh
Yeah. Who are we?
Gillyanne Kayes 11:22
I mean, what are we? Who are we?
Yeah. And what do we do? I mean, I have to say, it would be really interesting to hear from you to tell us who we are, and what it is that we do.
Gillyanne Kayes 11:33
Yeah. And how you see us? I think that’s really important. And we love it, if you say legend, but, legend who… you know, tell us a bit more?
Gillyanne Kayes 11:42
And so what we were thinking about in a way, and what we wanted to talk about today was how, how is it that we deliver the information about the voice, and voices that work in so many different ways, and for different audiences and for audiences at different levels. And I’m using the word audience intentionally here. Because when you’re writing for someone, when you’re preparing a workshop for someone, when you’re writing a lesson plan, you’re creating a course, it is an audience that you’re working with,
well, in order to in order for something like that to be successful. Well, actually, you can just, you know, basically stand up there and say, anything you want. In order for it to be successful, you have to understand your audience, and you have to understand who it is that you’re writing or creating for.
Gillyanne Kayes 12:32
Yeah, I mean, that’s why in an earlier podcast, we talked about the singer in the room, yes, obviously, the singer isn’t an audience in that sense. But they are an individual. And that when when you’re working with them, the the lesson that you give must be taking that individuality into account. So I would say one thing, two things, actually, and they’re related that we use in our creativity is we think about context. And we think about purpose. And actually, that’s quite important, because often what will happen when I’m creating is I have a germ of an idea. And I’ll come to Jeremy and I say, I’ve had an idea.
Now be fair, you come to me, and you’re going we’re doing this, and I’m going What?
Gillyanne Kayes 13:20
And he’ll say, what’s the purpose?
What’s the purpose?
Gillyanne Kayes 13:24
And that is a nice bit of creative sparking that goes on between us. Yeah. Sometimes a little bit more than a spark. Actually, you do need to know what the purpose is, you know, who is it that you want to connect with? Who is it you’re communicating with? What is it that you think they need? Yes. And what’s the best way of helping them to understand. So obviously, if you’re working with a bunch of school kids, it’s going to be very different from a bunch of avocational singers who are maybe high up in their own professional field, and different again, delivering information about voice skills to speech and language therapists.
Yes, well, actually, just if you just take singers and you look at level and age, and when we talk about age, we’re not necessarily talking about physical age. We’re also talking about experience age. So you can have some 10 year olds who are already leads in the West End. They are extremely experienced singers, even though they are only 10 years old. And you can have some 50 year old adults who are inexperienced singers, therefore they have chronological age, but not experience age.
Gillyanne Kayes 14:35
So if you are putting something together either, you know in a more formalised business context, or you’re creating a product, or an event, think about the context and purpose. I think that’s really important.
Context is everything.
Gillyanne Kayes 14:52
Yeah understand your audience and how you’re going to connect with them.
Context is everything because everybody has information, everybody has knowledge. But when you share that knowledge, and you don’t actually put it into the context that you are giving it into, if you like,
Gillyanne Kayes 15:09
it’s got to be in a framework. You know, there hasn’t there has to be a frame of reference,
I think what’s interesting about all the stuff that we’ve done, because obviously we’ve done books, courses, lesson plans, I mean, all sorts of things, each one, and I love this, and I know I said this in the last podcast, give me a format, and I will work out how to how to make it work. It’s one of my things
Gillyanne Kayes 15:32
You really do.
Yeah. And I like that, because each format has something very different, that it has to give. And if you look for the format, and its strengths, that’s when that format becomes successful. So when we’re writing, you have a format that is word only. Now word really creates imagination, you take something off the page, and you can imagine it, you can see it, you can hear it, you can feel it, you can do all sorts of things with it. And it’s often why when a really good book is made into a film, the film is very different. First of all, you are having to identify immediately how somebody looks, how somebody moves, what the setting is, what the costumes are. Whereas you do that in your imagination when you’re reading. And secondly, your idea of something you also have to edit in a film some things that you don’t edit in a book. So lots of book is about description. And that description can be very specific and be very precise, can be very elaborate. And yet on film, you get instant hit. So you get everything in that description in one frame. And you’ve either got to get it,quotes, right Or you go off somewhere else. I was only watching last night on YouTube a thing about historical costume, that how many films get historical costume approximately right. But then they go, Oh, well, this is for modern audience sensibilities, therefore those wigs can’t look that ridiculous. Even though they did look that ridiculous in that period
Gillyanne Kayes 17:00
Well that’s a frame of reference
It’s a frame of reference. And when you go into a different format, you have a completely different frame of reference.
Gillyanne Kayes 17:07
I want to point out how much Jeremy has used visual language. I mean, he loves film, and he loves television, I tend to see things televisually. Yeah. So I can share with you that sometimes when we’re putting a PowerPoint together for a presentation that we’re doing or a conference, and it’ll often be me that comes up with the general framework. And the, you know, the course of the information, I’m quite linear in the way that I think I must admit it
And i’m not.
Gillyanne Kayes 17:35
Yeah. And so you know, I’ll throw these things into the PowerPoint. And then Jeremy will look at it. And he’ll say, I can’t really do anything until I’ve seen it. And I need the images here. Yeah. And that’s, again, it’s that sort of different approach that we have that I think really strengthens what we do.
Well, it’s also why I edit well, because I’m I have also edited books. And it’s because I go, I can see the through route. And notice I use visual language all the time, even though I’m a nonspecific, which basically means I’m a concept person. If I get the concept, I can see how the whole thing works. And I’m still using see language. But if – I’m a concept person, so if I don’t get the concept, no amount of you explaining it to me will work for me. I will just go Nope, don’t get it. Nope, nope, no, oh, okay. Got it. Right, it works like this. And everything will then fall into place. So when I’m editing stuff, I’m going well, that fits there. And that fits there. But that doesn’t fit there. That’s something completely different. Let’s shift that around. And I’m actually using a lot of – I’m also physical because I’m shifting my hands around. But, I use a lot of imagery in order to get something to flow really well.
Gillyanne Kayes 18:51
I’m much more of a sequencer and a processor.
Yes, you are.
Gillyanne Kayes 18:54
Yeah. Hmm. All right. Well, let’s go on and talk about…
Oh before we do, can I just talk about the app? Okay. I mean, because we have an app, which is
Gillyanne Kayes 19:03
The one minute voice warmup.
And the one minute voice warmup was very interesting. We were approached by speech tools, high speech tools, I Sam and Garry. And we loved their stuff already. We’d already reviewed it. And they said we would we like to do an app with them. And we had such great meetings about how this was going to work and what we wanted to do. And it was Gary, who came up with the one minute workout. And that immediately I went, Oh, can we actually do vocal exercises in one minute? Can we get them down, refine them that much that they are effective in one minute? And once we’ve got that concept, we started to get the exercises that we wanted to do and we had a description section, which was like a tutorial
Gillyanne Kayes 19:49
and the visuals were really important, weren’t they? Now this is a case where Jeremy just turned his hand to something he’d never done before.
I can’t draw
Gillyanne Kayes 19:57
Because we were wondering how We were going to create the you know that the images that people expect imagery.
I love cartoons.
Gillyanne Kayes 20:06
And we didn’t want to want to do a video.
No, I loved we didn’t we definitely didn’t want to do live video, we didn’t think that was the point. I love cartoons. And I’ve actually been playing with cartoons. I published a couple of cartoons just on the website,
Gillyanne Kayes 20:19
Didn’t you just go to Google draw?
I went to Google Draw, which is the simplest programme you can get. And I thought, I can’t think of anybody that could draw this stuff. And even if they did, I wouldn’t necessarily know how to describe it, I’m going to have to do it. So I went onto Google draw, and I love line drawings, I love black and white line drawings. So I went, let’s do some line drawings. And I literally spent a day going, how do you draw a profile of a head? How do you draw the vocal folds? How do you draw the the throat and came up with all these things, and then sort of cartoonised them and made them move or morph for you know, created the cartoons for the for the videos. And it took some time. I’m not going to deny that, that took some time. But it was I was so proud of that app, it’s really good.
Gillyanne Kayes 21:10
Yeah. So you should be and also for that, not just the ideas that we you know, put together the both of our songs, especially with Sam Yeah. But the way it panned out visually… I’m going to cough.
You need the one minute voice warm up!
Gillyanne Kayes 21:36
Believe it or not, I have warmed up today. I blame it all on the sneeze. Okay. The other thing is, you do need to know your stuff if you’re going to create Yes, I think you have to be confident in your knowledge. As it happens because of our interest, which is about voice and making voices work in different contexts. One of our big strengths is our knowledge of vocal function. And I’m going to let you speak while that cough removes itself from my throat
vocal function, vocal function. And people talk about anatomy and physiology all the time. And anatomy is the bits and physiology is how they move. And it’s lovely knowing all the bits. And actually, to be honest, you can go into micro-minute detail, particularly now that people are looking at brain function and nerve function. And you are in micro detail about how things work. What I think is good about physiology, and the way that we understand it is that you’re looking at, essentially at mechanics and engineering. So you’re looking at this is connected to that, and the knee bone is connected to the shin bone. But what’s important, what’s more important is how the knee and the shin interact in movement. And it’s, usually you’ll find it’s not one muscle. It’s several sets of muscles that are working in synergy. So when…
Gillyanne Kayes 23:02
muscles aren’t solo activators as a rule
No, they’re not. And in a way, this is where the micromanaging can go wrong, where you go, Well, this is the vocalis muscle is doing this. And I’m going well the vocalis muscle can’t do that
Gillyanne Kayes 23:14
What’s it joined onto?
And what else is is counteracting it. So the vocalis muscle can’t do that, until this set of muscles, lets go and allows it then to move whatever that particular thing is. And I think what’s important about physiology and mechanics and engineering is that you start to pan back. And I’msing visual language again, you start to pan back until you can see more of the structure and how it’s interconnected with other things. That is something that we understand on quite a deep level. And it’s actually why we go, these are the exercises that we use, these are the fixes that we do. And this is why we know they work. And I think it’s really interesting, I would say that an understanding of physiology and mechanics is probably the most important thing if you’re going to teach singing. And there’s one other bit, which is the context of performance. If you get those two, you are almost certainly going to be a successful singer. And I just want to talk about physiology. Because for me physiology, understanding physiology is not about what someone has told you. It is not about what you have learned, what someone has said, you know, this this
Gillyanne Kayes 24:27
or the lecture that you attended
or the lecture that you attended, or even the set of courses that you’ve done.
Gillyanne Kayes 24:31
I mean, well done for attending it by the way, but often what happens I think in pedagogy courses is that quite rightly, you are presented with information about the mechanics of the voice. But if you don’t understand how those work in context, then sometimes what happens is you come out with all this information and you don’t know how to purpose it. You know, What’s it for?
Not only is that information in isolation, but it’s been taught in isolation, as in you can move this muscle, and no attention is being paid to anything else that’s going on. And that always worries me. Because it’s not real. I mean, it’s lovely, but it’s not real. And so my thing, I mean, what you and I have done is to sit and work out stuff that we have not necessarily been taught.
Gillyanne Kayes 25:21
Yeah, and but also not necessarily on our own. I think we’ve mentioned before that we do hang out with clinicians as much as we can
Gillyanne Kayes 25:30
And this is an ongoing journey for for us, you know, as medical knowledge itself and the instrumentation for looking at the voice while it’s in action, as that develops, you know, we constantly ask questions of colleagues who know more about what’s going on in the inside. I mean one of the highlights of this year for me, I don’t think I’ve talked about this yet in the podcast. The highlight of my year so far, was having a three day internship at the Deutsches Stimme clinic with Professor Marcus Hess and his colleagues, where I was not only able to sit in clinic and watch case history taking and diagnosis. But I was also invited to watch operations. So I went into theatre in my scrubs. And it was an enormous privilege to see the physiology of the voice in action. I learned a lot from that. And this is the kind of thing I mean, we must go again, when, when we’re able to travel. This is the kind of thing that informs us. And as I said, it’s an ongoing journey. You know,
There’s one more thing that I think is important, and that is a very healthy sense of bullshit.
Gillyanne Kayes 26:47
Ah, have you got it on today?
Now, I am wearing the Vocal Process bullshitometer badge. Yes, it’s real. Had it designed and the Vocal Process bullshitometor badge has magical powers. When you wear it, you get me whispering in your ear going “I think this is bullshit”.
Gillyanne Kayes 27:05
Yeah, always stay curious. And if you hear something, maybe delivered in a very didactic way, and it doesn’t make sense to you then ask a question. And if you feel that that question isn’t fully answered
Gillyanne Kayes 27:20
Or maybe the person you’re questioning, isn’t able to say, Actually, I don’t know. Yeah, then, you know, use your your bullshitometer meter and just go and check it out from somewhere else. And that applies if you hear us say something, and you go, What are you talking about? We love question
Oh you can question us. If we say something that you don’t agree with question us, because either we’ll know what we’re talking about, and we’ll be able to explain it, or we’ll go well, you could be right.
Gillyanne Kayes 27:52
And I’m gonna say this, I do think that our ability to deconstruct vocal function in this way, the fact that people know we are ongoing studiers, and the fact that we are able to say, we don’t know, this isn’t our area. I think it gives people quite a lot of trust in us as trainers
Because what we do know, we know at a deep level and what we don’t know, usually we know we don’t know. Usually
Gillyanne Kayes 28:20
Yeah it’s essential to know what you don’t know. Yeah, as far as you can. Okay, let’s move on
Well, let’s talk about the next bit, which is the performance and the context of performance
Gillyanne Kayes 28:31
We love music, we love language
We’re both musically trained. And you know, it’s really surprising that there are actually quotes singing teachers out there who don’t have musical training, or experience. Now, this is this is interesting because it’s different.
Gillyanne Kayes 28:33
Now we’re not talking here about music reading, we’re not talking music literacy. We have talked about this before so we shouldn’t over-egg it.
Okay I won’t over-egg it. But, this is really interesting that we equate musical experience and musical training as being the same thing, because it gives you different aspects of how music works. What’s fascinating is that you can also have people with really intense musical training, but not that much performing experience. And therefore they don’t get to find how that music works in context again, so we’re always talking context. We know a lot of singing teachers who don’t necessarily read music that well, they haven’t heard classical training. And that is not necessarily a bad thing, by the way. We’ll talk about that in a moment. But they have huge experience of actually doing the job of being up on stage being in the recording studio doing it, and therefore you have so much to bring when you have that level of experience.
Gillyanne Kayes 29:47
Can we talk about language? Yes, Jeremy and I are both avid readers, you know, avid readers from childhood. I sort of read all of George Eliot’s work by the time I was in the second year at my secondary school
I was more science fiction.
Gillyanne Kayes 30:02
I was never a big Dickens fan, but I read loads and loads of Thomas Hardy. I’d read all the Brontes, etc, etc. I just loved reading.
Okay, just say when people come to the house, we have something like 12 sets of bookshelves. And there’s a very, very straightforward divide.
Gillyanne Kayes 30:21
This is for the light reading isn’t it?
If you see anything that is English literature, that’ll be Gillyanne’s. If you see anything that is science fiction, comedy, or spirituality, that’ll be mine.
Gillyanne Kayes 30:35
And if you see anything that’s fairly hardcore, psychological thriller.
Oh, yeah, you do the blood and guts. Yeah. I do the…
Gillyanne Kayes 30:44
Anything to do with forensics
Yeah, so in crime because we both love crime, crime books, you do the blood and guts and the forensics and I do the historical – it’s the equivalent of easy listening, because it’s, um, it’s important.
Gillyanne Kayes 30:59
And oddly enough, I’m happy to read about that stuff. But once or twice when I’ve tried to watch it on TV. I’m just thinking of some of Lynda la Plante stuff. I couldn’t watch it. It I’m okay to read about it. I don’t want to see it. It’s too visceral. Yeah.
But we’re right back to the thing that I said almost at the beginning, which is when you read it in a book, you imagine it yourself, when you see it on television, it has been imagined for you. And I think this is also about discovery. It’s personal discovery. Sometimes when people will teach you something or say something, or will demonstrate something, and you understand it on quite a deep level. And sometimes you just go Oh, that’s really interesting. And it absolutely bypasses you. And I think this is all about personal understanding and your personal… it’s not even your style of learning. It’s just whether you take something in and get it or whether you don’t.
Gillyanne Kayes 31:37
And you are very hot on communication. Yes. If you communicate clearly with Jeremy, he’s a very, very happy bunny.
Gillyanne Kayes 32:03
Um, so why did we talk about language? Because Well, first of all, because we have done, we created products for spoken voice, haven’t we. And there’s a whole section on spoken voice in This Is A Voice and and the app is geared towards spoken voice
And I’m doing voiceover coaching, which is fun, I love doing that, so much to play with in that
Gillyanne Kayes 32:28
because when we sing we usually sing words. And we I mean, I in particular love text. Because I worked for 20 years in drama schools, I got to hang out with some really good voice and text people. And I just love digging into all of that and finding out how Shakespeare works kind of finding out about metre. You know, kind of really being able to look at the poetic side of song,
but also as a as a classical singer you headed for lieder rather than opera
Gillyanne Kayes 33:00
I did indeed. Yes. I used to do my own translations. Yeah. Jeremy, why don’t you talk – so we’re talking about loving music and loving language. Do you want to talk a little bit about rhythm? As you are the rhythm person
Oh yes. Rhythm is really interesting because when we think of rhythm as a musician, you tend to think of crotchets and quavers and 8th notes and 16th notes and rests and stuff like that. And in fact, rhythm and pulse tend to be slightly different things. Pulse is the sort of overview feel. Anybody who, who sings Motown or rock will understand pulse because it’s a feel thing. But pulse actually goes through. It doesn’t just go through all music. And I have to tell you, if I can’t feel the pulse of a piece, I’m really quite upset.
Gillyanne Kayes 33:46
I am. It’s really strong. But also pulse goes through spoken voice as well. And you will notice, by the way, just in the different speeds that we speak, tend to reflect a personality. I will not really do slow speaking, or I might do slow speaking while I’m thinking of the rest of the sentence. And then I’ll speed up again
Gillyanne Kayes 34:13
Jeremy’s goal is to fit in as many concepts and words as he possibly can, within the same sentence
No I’m going to pick you up on that. That’s not the case. I do do sub clauses. So I do a lot of sub clauses, but mostly it’s because my brain works really fast. And I have all of these ideas and I have to get them out to the point where sometimes my mouth just doesn’t keep up.
Gillyanne Kayes 34:37
And we we like the links between that kind of the prosody of speech and how that translates into song. Yes. And anyone who’s a Sondheim fan will know exactly how that works.
Or Jason Robert Brown. Yeah, yeah. He writes really good conversational music,
Gillyanne Kayes 34:54
If you speak the text and you speak it with inflection and meaning. It’s so close to the rhythmic structure in many, many cases. Okay. Right
So where are we going with this? Why are we doing this? What’s the context?
Gillyanne Kayes 35:08
Shall we… I mean, I’m just wondering if we could give some examples of stuff that we put together. For instance, I know we talked before about why we did the Webinars.
Gillyanne Kayes 35:23
So if you imagine, you know, us creating a Webinaron a particular topic, and meeting that need,
Usually we created a webinar, in fact almost all our webinars were created for a specific reason, and often it was to counteract bullshit. It was to counteract the bullshit that was out there.
Gillyanne Kayes 35:43
We could say myth busting?
Yeah. I mean, I think in in one of the two of the webinars, there’s a myth busting section.
Gillyanne Kayes 35:50
But it’s more than that. It’s actually giving people the information and the tools that they need in in order to learn that particular topic. So we’ve got three troubleshooting webinars, haven’t we, and those webinars, they came right at the end of the series, actually. And we felt that what, this was in particular for teachers, that what teachers needed was to be able to look at songs in context, and to see how to purpose you know, the work that we do, in vocal exercises on breathing, how to purpose that within the context of a song. And in this case, we had two or three different songs. So we looked at, you know, problem solving within the song. So we were thinking very much about the problems that the singer might meet, and how the teacher would address those issues within the context of the music, and understanding of the physiology of breathing, and the sorts of breathing exercises that singing teachers tend to use. So that’s an example of how the creativity and all those elements we’ve just talked about, took us to create that product.
I just, I’m going off with a little tangent on breathing. It is extraordinary for me how many people do breathing exercises that don’t involve voice? And I’m I’m not sure honestly, not sure what the purpose of that is. Because if you’re going to do breathing for singing, singing by its very definition is voiced. Yes, you will have unvoiced consonants, but they won’t from the main bulk of singing. The main bulk of singing is voicing. So if you’re going to do breathing exercises, but you’re not involving voicing, what are you teaching? Because voicing is interrupted airflow, so if you’re not going to set that up to start with within the exercise, what ARE you teaching? I’m sure, I’m sure that we will get comments on this. And people say, well, it’s perfectly obvious.
Gillyanne Kayes 37:48
Well you’re going to get a comment from me actually.The comment from me is it’s to do with awareness. And sometimes, do you remember when we did that course for the speech and language therapists back in March? And, you know, we went almost straightaway into doing things like vvv, zzz, because to us, this is obvious. Yeah. And I think somebody put their hand up and said, well, but what about people who simply have no sense of their abdominal wall, and we really had to backtrack.
Gillyanne Kayes 38:20
And one thing we did I remember was that we had people just sitting, you know, in a balanced stance, and just resting their hands on their bellies with a little bit of weight, and feeling what was moving, because so many people aren’t in contact with that. So it is about tuning in, and awareness. And those exercises do have value. I think what you’ve got to remember is that a lot of the community of people we work with, already have some awareness. So that was us responding to our audience.
I’ll take that.
Gillyanne Kayes 38:53
What is interesting…
Gillyanne Kayes 38:55
What is interesting is that what you’re talking about is awareness. And although awareness runs through quite a lot of the whole business of singing or speaking or performing, what you’re talking about is like a pre exercise, which is you need to become aware of something before you can move it. No, that’s not always the case.
Gillyanne Kayes 39:15
It’s not an exercise, it’s awareness, I think that’s different.
I think, what what what bugs me about people who do breathing, this is for singing, breathing exercises that don’t involve voicing, is that what they don’t realise that is that essentially, that’s an awareness, set of awareness, exercise,
Gillyanne Kayes 39:30
And everything changes when you open your mouth to make a noise
EVERYTHING changes, pressure changes, flow changes, volume changes, sound changes
Gillyanne Kayes 39:38
And the internal feedback that you have changes
So if you’re not, if you’re going to do, I know you’ve done your breathing exercises, now let’s sing a song. That’s too big a step. There aren’t any interim steps.
Gillyanne Kayes 39:49
I’m going to support a little bit of your idea because now what’s happened is that it’s popped into my mind that someone I worked with decades ago at the Actor’s Centre when we lived in London, Very nice guy. He was an actor. And he talked about the column of air. And I was listening to him sing and you know, maybe the first or second lesson, just sort of getting a chance to get to know him and what his patterns were. And I said, Tell me about the column of air. And he said, Well, I’m keeping the column of air at all times. And I thought, okay, somehow I’ve got to debunk this column of air. Because if you think about it, if you’re using that idea, and maybe you’ve done a lot of floor work and you’re really focusing on this. All of that’s going to change the minute you interrupt your airflow. And suppose then you’re trying to keep that sensation, that lovely sensation of the column of air while you’re vocalising? What is that going to do to your voice?
And what’s it going to do to your stopped consonants?
Gillyanne Kayes 40:57
And how is that going to work out in certain parts of your range? So we kind of wrapped very beautifully the column of and said, That’s lovely, when you need to kind of tune into your body. Now what we want to do is find out what happens when we bring voice in. So that, yeah, you’re thinking of those sorts of things aren’t you?
Yeah. Yeah, I am. I think the column of air is an interesting one. Because often when people use it, they use it as a given. And it’s not a given, I think when the column of idea actually might work is when somebody is simply not feeding enough air under their vocal folds. And then you need an imagery thing. I mean, imagery is an interesting one, there are some images that work very well. There are some images that actually are connected to neural linkages. And there are some images that work well for the teacher but have absolutely no meaning for the student
Gillyanne Kayes 41:47
You’ve got to make things up for your students. I think. So yeah. We kind of ended up sort of in agreement. How many diversions have we had today? Lots of diversions
Loads! We’ve had so many diversions, I can’t even remember what the original track is. What is this about?
Gillyanne Kayes 42:05
Creativity and making it work
Okay, creativity, making it work, let’s get right back to that.Creativity is taking something and making something different. So what – you have a really, really good skill at putting people together so that you can get groups of people together. Or you can get pairs of people together. And they will create it together. Well, it’s bringing people it’s not even like minded, you have a really good skill at this. Whereas I will look at things and go that, I do things.
Gillyanne Kayes 42:41
I’m more of a people person collaborator
yeah. I mean, ironically, I’m a collaborative pianist. So I’m working with people as a musician all the time. But I, nevertheless, I’ve been loving lockdown. Because I don’t have to collaborate with people.
Gillyanne Kayes 42:55
I do this with information, with facts, with skills. One of the things I love is the interconnectedness of things. So from that point of view, we’re actually a very good team, because he’s much he’s the concept person and the purpose person. And I’m looking at the, the interconnectedness of things, and seeing how things link together. And I think that really helps people who come to work with us, because, you know, we… none of this stuff that we’re talking about with voice, whether it’s singing, whether it’s speech and language therapy, none of it exists in a vacuum. Yes. I think that’s really important.
I’m going to say because because that’s how you that’s what you connect to this what you respond to, I respond to energy. Without question, I respond to energy. So it’s the energy of a thing, things have energy. It’s one of the reasons, by the way, why I can unlock stiff locks, which is gonna sound really weird.
Gillyanne Kayes 43:52
But Gillyanne will go, this door is stuck. And I’ll just go here’s the key. And it goes like that. And it opens. And because I’m sensing the energy
Gillyanne Kayes 44:01
You become the key
well become the keyhole. Just sounds like a weird sentence. But there are things have energy, people have energy, and I’m able to put energetically to put people and things together, which is why I’m so good on repertoire. I can find songs for people where I go, this song will fit your energy. The same song will not fit your energy, because you’re a different energy. But here’s an energy that will work for you. And I know, I mean, all the actors are going but I have lots of things that I can do. Yes, of course you do. Yes. Everybody does. Nevertheless, there are… that’s as that’s as close as I can get, which is it’s an energetic exchange.
Gillyanne Kayes 44:39
Do you know what you’ve just done a segue. You have done a very neat segue to talk about the Songlists. Yes, yeah.
Yeah. Okay. Sponsors today are Vocal Process and they we have three specific things that are sponsoring us today. And that is our Songlists. Now, those of you who are on our mailing list, if you’re not on the mailing list, just go on the Vocalprocess.co.uk website and join. I think it was this week. Last week, I sent out an email about the Songlists. And somebody had emailed me and said, I bought your Song list one of the Songists, but I’m not quite sure how to use it. Now. We have three Songlists. The first one is
Gillyanne Kayes 45:23
These are databases of songs,
Databases, spreadsheet-databases of songs, but they’re much bigger than that. So the first one is a General Songlist, which has repertoire for adults, changing voices, boys changing girls. It has folk, MT (musical theatre), it has classical, it has all sorts of things in it,
Gillyanne Kayes 45:45
Pop, or CCM
There’s 193 songs or song books in that list alone. The second one is, we then did two specialist lists which are specialist musical theatre lists for female voice and for male voice,
Gillyanne Kayes 45:59
and these were put together by one of our accredited trainers.
Gillyanne Kayes 46:03
who is very, very experienced at working in musical theatre, both at the university level. And also, you know, taking young people right through the whole exam process.
She is particularly good on repertoire for changing and settling voices. So the sort of 11 to 18/19 age group and really good
Gillyanne Kayes 46:27
and, you know, one of the things that we asked her to do was to talk about, you know, the pitch range of the song, where, where most of the song centres pitch wise, yeah. What kind of energy would suit? I think she’s, I think there is a Is there a column about whether the words are suitable or not for someone of under…
that comes in notes. there’s a there’s a notes column, there’s a pitch range column, and also voice type. So you’ll have baritone C3-F#4. So you’ll have absolutely specific notes that the song goes to, you’ve got a what type of song it is, I mean, yes, we have ballad and uptempo. But within that ballad and uptempo, you have about six or seven…
Gillyanne Kayes 47:12
It’s like patter, narrative, lyrical romantic. Yeah,
so all sorts of sub categorizations of that. You have composer, lyricist, the year it was written, the show it comes from or the, or the artists who originally recorded it. So these these are, there’s a lot of information in these.
Gillyanne Kayes 47:30
And these have been tried and tested by Kate. So she knows that these work for students in particular situations. And we felt that, you know, we know there are other songlists out there. But we didn’t think there was anything that gave teachers this critical information about. Okay, I’ve got a student here who’s very thoughtful, I need to get them singing in a slightly more contemporary style. Is there a nice narrative song that I can get them to sing? What’s the pitch range? Because obviously, you can always transpose, is this going to be suitable for that particular female singer.
And also, if you are having if you have students that are auditioning for drama schools, very often they will be given a specific year that they want the song before or after. So it’s a pre 1970s uptempo, and you can search on the database for pre 1970s uptempo. The musical theatre female list has 219 songs in it, which is extraordinary. And the specialist musical theatre male list has 250 songs. And this didn’t really come about deliberately. But it is interesting that I think songs for the men are more difficult to find, and therefore we’ve got more in there.
Gillyanne Kayes 48:48
That’s what Kate said
Yeah. And the reason that I sent the email out last week was because of the person who contacted me and said, I’m not sure how to use the databases.
Gillyanne Kayes 49:00
Is it an Excel? Or a .csv?
It’s an Excel spreadsheet. She said, Well, yeah, the General Songlist is a .XLS x s, l, x, whatever it is. And the two specialist lists are .CSVs. So they will open in anything
Gillyanne Kayes 49:16
we are not sponsored today by Microsoft
Absolutely not, no. Although we have worked at Microsoft headquarters. And so I created a video showing people how to set up the spreadsheet and sort and filter and filtering is amazing, filtering will do all the work for you.
Gillyanne Kayes 49:38
So for example, if I was looking for lyrical, and then so I do a search for lyrical.
What you do is you go into the column, you select the whole thing. I mean, you’ll see this on the video because I actually do simple filtering and then to do complex filtering, where I’m filtering three columns at the same time
Gillyanne Kayes 49:58
That’s that’s what I meant
Yes So you can go into the style column. And actually, you can either do the filter, do the pull down filter, and then tick everything that says lyrical in it. Or you can do something much more simple, much simpler, which is you go into the search box as part of the filter, and you type in lyric. And anything in the list that contains the word lyric or lyrical will actually will filter itself out and you’re left with a list and it can be lyrical ballad, lyrical uptempo, lyrical, contemporary, it can be all sorts of things.
Gillyanne Kayes 50:32
Good. So the little YouTube video that you’ve made shows you how to do that. I mean, I know lots of people know how to navigate spreadsheets
I mean, you’d be surprised I’ve been using spreadsheets for some time. And it was actually only when that particular person said, I’m not sure how to use the spreadsheets that I put down all of these thoughts. And in fact, the search box I’d never used before I just done filtering by hand. I don’t know ticking and unticking and I’ll show you a quick way of selecting the ticks as well. So I even I learned something doing the making the video myself. So yes, it’s on YouTube,
Gillyanne Kayes 51:10
share the joy
share the joy. So we had like I said the video I use the specialist male database to use that as a demonstration, I have blanked out some of the song names so you don’t get the database for free. Sorry.
Gillyanne Kayes 51:28
But it’s not expensive.
The general list of 193 songs is a fiver. And the two specialist musical theatre ones are 10 pounds each. But go on the YouTube channel and have a look at how it works. Because it is an extraordinary resource when you are just looking for songs and you have the person in front of you and you’re going I want a post 1970s uptempo that is baritone range that doesn’t go higher than a G. Sorted. I think there’s 16 of them. So um, yeah,
Gillyanne Kayes 51:59
what’s a mine of information you are. Okay. So should we talk? You know, we haven’t had any AMAs for ages, we have a must get some AMAs out for our next podcast.
Ooh, the next podcast
Gillyanne Kayes 52:12
which we’re going to flag. And we should we have a little moment
We shall, just if you if you’re watching this on YouTube, we are holding up our straws. These are the SOVT these are Oren Boder’s OB1 metal straws, they are really good. And this is Mark two that we have. But so in fact, for the next,
Gillyanne Kayes 52:36
what are we going to be talking about next, Jeremy?
excuse the Moomins from next door. Next podcast is Oren is actually going to be our guest on the podcast. So whole podcast is dedicated to SOVT or semi occluded vocal tract exercises
Gillyanne Kayes 52:52
Actually it’s under a generic title of lockdown heroes. Yeah, because we wanted to have a few guests under that title, because it’s been amazing to see what some people have been doing across the last few months. And you know, we’re not out of the woods yet with this. But this is exactly a case where people have been creative, and have been making it work in whatever, you know, with whatever challenges that they’ve met, and have still come out with something amazing.
There is an extraordinary story behind Oren’s achievements. And we want to share some of that as well as some of the exercises and some of the chat. So what we want you to do is to deliver us some AMAs, some Ask Me Anythings.
Gillyanne Kayes 53:39
And we have something very specific for you if we haven’t mentioned it before, which is speakpipe.com/VocalProcess. And if you go on to speakpipe.com/VocalProcess, you can record an AMA for us, and we will play your recording on the podcast. You know, we’ve done that before. But we know there’s gonna be lots of AMAs on this one
Gillyanne Kayes 54:01
and also it’ll be really helpful for our and as he’s moving forward. Yes. with, you know, with the development of his SOVT work
Yes. So that will be the next podcast you have approximately a week to do those speakpipe
Gillyanne Kayes 54:17
we’re recording on the 19th.
Yeah, because this one won’t… we record we normally record two or three days before because I get the time to edit everything. And so you’ll have about a week to 10 days to deliver some AMAs so please do that. Hmm. Check out the Vocal Process YouTube channel. Check out any of the links. Anything that we’ve mentioned will be linked in the description for the podcast.
Gillyanne Kayes 54:41
Oh, and don’t forget to drop us a line saying this is how we see you, Jeremy and Gillyanne, and try to be polite.
You don’t necessarily have to be polite. We’ll just delete you if you’re rude.
Gillyanne Kayes 54:55
Are we done?
I think we’re probably done. That was quite an interesting one. We really weren’t sure where we were going with this one, but we were fairly fluent on it.
We hope you’ve enjoyed it.
So we’ll see you next… oh!
mini chorus 55:08
Thank you, been dying to use that, recorded ages ago. So we are done and we will see and hear you talk to you next time. Bye.
Gillyanne Kayes 55:20
This is a Voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.