Podcast ep 6 – The Singer in the Room

In the sixth episode of our This Is A Voice podcast we’re focusing on the singer in the room, and why it’s important to pay attention to the person you’re working with.

Every singer is individual, with their own voice, skills and background. Does your singing teacher work with “the singer in the room” or do they try to fit you into their templates?

We’re chatting about

  • how important context is
  • what to listen for in each voice
  • the problem with “industry sounds”
  • the difference between demonstrating and modelling
  • different training timelines for different genres
  • why your voice isn’t my voice and what to do about it

This podcast  episode is sponsored by Vocal Process and our featured resource is our professional development online Webinar Finding the YOU in Every Song. This streaming resource is filled with exercises, analysis and vocal information. We break down five completely different song performances from singers in different genres, and give you five things that matter most when you sing.
You can see all 18 of our online voice training Webinars on https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/Webinars

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 6 – The Singer in the Room

Announcer 0:11  This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.

Jeremy 0:21
Hello, and welcome to the podcast. This is a voice This episode is called the singer in the room.

Gillyanne 0:27
Hello to the singer in the room

Jeremy 0:29
sort of sounds like a sort of rather dodgy thriller, doesn’t it? But we will explain what that means. I’m Jeremy Fisher.

Gillyanne 0:36
I’m Gillyanne Kayes.

Jeremy 0:37
So what is the topic for today?

Gillyanne 0:39
Right? Well, this was my idea, wasn’t it?

Jeremy 0:41

Gillyanne 0:42
I’ve been doing some sessions recently with singers and teachers. And the room of course, is the Zoom Room at the moment.

Jeremy 0:51
yeah, that’s true.

Gillyanne 0:51
And quite a lot of teachers are using the opportunity at the moment to update their practice so that they can deliver better to their own students. I think it’s fair to say, even now that many of us singing teachers came originally from a classical background that is changing now. And that therefore, sometimes we have to have learn how to reuse our voice so that we can feel for ourselves what it is that we need to teach our students if they’re singing, musical theatre, or commercial music styles.

Jeremy 1:28
Okay, how important is it for the teacher to feel what it is that the student is doing?

Gillyanne 1:35
for themselves?

Jeremy 1:36

Gillyanne 1:37
Actually, I think it matters quite a lot. And this is certainly what teachers tell me. Because if you don’t have a sense of what it’s like in your voice, how are you going to form that trajectory and I’m going to talk about trajectory in a minute. Hopefully, I can pronounce it properly. How are you going to be able to form that trajectory when you’re working with your student If you don’t have some idea of how it feels in your voice

Jeremy 2:03
I think this is a really interesting one because I actually do agree with you. Having said that, if you are a vocal coach with an instrumental background, you may or may not be able to do that. So I think this is one of the the other differences. And we did a whole podcast on the difference between the vocal coach and the, and the singing teacher. I think as a singing teacher, you really do because the singing teacher is so geared towards voice building and voice development. Whereas the vocal coach tends to be geared more towards musical presentation, shaping, phrasing, stuff like that. So yes, the whole business of whether you need to have experienced the sounds and so many senior teachers that we work with, say, I’m not going to teach that thing until I felt what it’s like because I can’t actually break it down myself and explain it until I know what it feels like. Now, what’s odd is that I’m a vocal coach, but I also want to know what it feels like. So as usual, I straddle the two camps.

Gillyanne 3:01
Okay, so let me go back to what inspired me to suggest this topic for this particular podcast. I’ve given a couple of sessions over a couple of weeks to these singing teachers. And I came away thinking, Well, what is it that enables me to hear the sound that that particular vocalist can make when she or he hasn’t made it yet?

Jeremy 3:30
Ooh, ooh.. Let’s just like, Can I just break that down? Because that’s really fascinating. You are essentially extrapolating their ability from something they haven’t done yet.

Gillyanne 3:42
Yes. So they might come to me and say, I don’t really know how to sing high in my chest voice. I can do it on the low notes. I need to be able to get the sense of what it is to do it higher so that I can teach my own students safely.

Jeremy 3:55
So you’re not just talking about oh, you know, you can sing in your chest voice low down. Therefore, I can help you To sing within your chest voice higher up, what you’re actually talking about is you can hear somebody singing and maybe the technique that they’ve got for that particular task isn’t quite right. But you can hear not just how the techniques going to work, but you can hear the type of notes they’re going to hit, even though they haven’t hit them yet.

Gillyanne 4:16
And one of the instances I’m thinking of it was a range issue. I could hear after I’d done the work that I did with the voice, the exploratory work, that she would be able to doD5, probably, in a chest mechanism, whatever we want to call it, whether we call it belting or a mix, I really don’t care. But that was one of the goals. And it was the song also that was brought to the table that she wanted to achieve. And we did get there. I could hear that she would be able to do a C5 without much difficulty. I wasn’t sure if the D5 was going to happen, but it did. So I came away thinking how did I know?

Jeremy 4:59
Yeah, it’s a really good question

Gillyanne 5:01
Eek! Because for me, it’s not an ought. It’s not every voice can do that, because in my experience, that’s not the case.

So, all could think of…

Jeremy 5:12
Well also the thing about the ought is that it’s very much an all singers ought to, but what you were doing was absolutely specific to the singer in the room.

Gillyanne 5:21
So I can share with you some of the things that I did. I mean, obviously, I listen at the beginning of a session what it is that the singer in the room wants to get out of the session and the difficulties or the things that they have or the things they want to explore. And then I will – this is a completely new singer. Yeah, I’ve never met before. I will test some things out. And usually because this was quite an experienced vocalist, I didn’t feel I need to, you know, see what their breathing technique is or anything like that. Usually, I will explore how the voice moves through the range, its relative weight, the ease of loudness and quietness, where I think the gear changes are. And sometimes you have to check that out and especially on zoom. And comfort, I think is something else I listen to, I’m listening to the relative ease of the voice as it moves across the range.

Jeremy 6:23
I mean, your PhD was on comfort zone so you’re definitely gonna be listening for that.

Gillyanne 6:27
It was indeed. And you know, sometimes when we learn a new sound, say, for instance, you know, as a female, you’re taking that chest voice based sound higher up in your range. It can feel weird, particularly if you come from a classical background, and therefore some rebalancing is required. So I listen to the balance. I think that’s what I’m listening for. What’s the balance of that voice in that particular singer, with the background of the training that they have, and with the kind of music that they normally sing How could I rebalance it to meet the goals that that singer wants. Does that makes sense

Jeremy 7:06
It does. You’re you’re not talking about a single balance though are you? You’re not talking about The Voice in balance? what you’re talking about is contextual. It’s a context.

Gillyanne 7:18
Yeah, I’m actually I’m glad you raised that because thinking of the two sessions I’ve given recently one was a coloratura soprano, and the other a much heavier voice and she revealed later in the lesson that she was more of a she never knew if she was a mezzo or a soprano. What they call a Zwichenfach, in between in classical and it was, you know, quite a heavy voice. And so the way that she sounded in her chest mechanism or a chest voice was very different from the other singer and very different from me as well. And that meant and we can go to modelling and demonstration now I think, that meant that When I was modelling for this particular singer, I had to use a much heavier sound to demonstrate the kind of sound that I thought she would produce around about, you know, a four Bb4.

Jeremy 8:16
Okay, let’s just unpack that for a moment

Gillyanne 8:18
Otherwise she’d hear my nice neat little chest voice sound and it wasn’t right for her.

Jeremy 8:24
Let’s just unpack that because and there’s there’s a whole thing in there which is so interesting, which is the difference between demonstrating and modelling. And we’ll get to that in a minute. What I think is interesting is you in order to in order to get her to hear where you wanted her to go, you had to change the standard setup of your voice even in a in an area that you’re very comfortable in teaching, because if she heard you do it, she might try to imitate you and it will be too lightweight for her voice.

Gillyanne 9:00
That’s not just a feature of zoom. I’ve had that when the singer is physically in the room.

Jeremy 9:04
Me too

Gillyanne 9:05
And I think this is really important. folks have a little bit of a frog.

Jeremy 9:12
Green and tasty.

Gillyanne 9:16
I hope we’re not letting that out. That’s gonna be in the bloopers.

Jeremy 9:20
Oh, I don’t think so I think that’s going in.

Gillyanne 9:22
I’m gonna have water break, excuse me. Demonstrating and modelling and the importance of the singing teacher being able to feel it in their voice. Yeah. I think we all know that there are some singing teachers that were great performers.

Jeremy 9:42
Sometimes still are.

Gillyanne 9:43
Yeah, and maybe they haven’t done any pedagogical training. And they’re out there teaching because of their performance background.

Jeremy 9:52
Maybe they have done pedagogical training and it’s not very good.

Gillyanne 9:55
And the trap that a teacher can fall into in that case is ” Do it like me, dear”, they demonstrate it, Yeah. And the demonstration in itself is not a bad thing because well, it can allow the, the the singer to hear the finished product, the finished package

Jeremy 10:15
Okay. So when you’re talking demonstrating what you’re talking about is the singing teacher singing it in their own voice, how they would sing it. And what what the student then hears is the finished package in the singing teachers voice

Gillyanne 10:27
within the framework of the relative ease across that vocalist’s range and their volume levels and all the rest of it.

Jeremy 10:35
I mean, there are some there are some students who are very keen auditory analyzers, and they will be able to pick something up from the demonstration. The difficulty with the demonstration and it’s why we differentiate between demonstration and modelling is that the demonstration is this is me singing in my voice and this is how I would do it. Off you go.

And therefore you should feel it like I do

And therefore, you should feel everything that I feel. And I will, I’ll talk and talk to you. And I’ll describe all the things that I feel and if you feel those you will be successful. That’s not a great way to teach.

Gillyanne 11:09
No, it isn’t. But I am going to say that as a singer, who is now teaching singing, sometimes I need to do that, particularly if it’s a sound that I’m not used to hearing from my singer. And I will say, Listen, I’ve got to try that out in my voice. I’m going to tell you that what it feels like to me is this. Now, it may not feel like that in your voice.

Okay, you’re describing something slightly different. What you’re describing is you doing it to work something out. You’re not saying here’s the finished product, I want you to copy it. What you’re saying is allow me to analyse it by doing it, feeling it on my own body in my own voice. I will then analyse it myself come up with the bits that I think are relevant to you. And give you an instruction based on that, that is relevant to you. That’s a different that’s a that’s like a mid process.

This is why I say All hail the singing teachers who are prepared to say, I need to feel that in my voice in order to teach it.

Jeremy 12:16
Yes, and oddly enough, I will also do that, particularly if it’s something like a phrasing or a breathing issue or a tonal quality issue or a shape issue. And I’ll go Just let me try that out to find out what you’re doing. And I will actually do little comparison things in my in my own voice to go Oh, I see what you’re doing. Okay, I see where you are, I see where you need to be. So in order for me to get to change where I my copy of what you’re doing to get to where I want you to be, I have to change this. Let’s try that as a change. Try this change on your own voice and see what comes out.

Gillyanne 12:53
So what we’re saying is that singers if we are teaching or if we’re leading a choir or something of that type. Because singing is an auditory and kinesthetic activity. And it’s really important for us to be able to hear the sound and sense the sound in ourselves as part of the process. That’s how we process our own sound. And therefore we’ve got to do that kind of link between us in the student to process what they’re doing.

Jeremy 13:24
I think it’s perfectly okay to say to the student, just give me a couple of minutes. I’m going to try this out. I’m going to analyse it and then I’ll come back to you. I do that all the time.

Gillyanne 13:35
So what I was doing, just get to going back to the difference between demoing and modelling,

Jeremy 13:40
Right, you’re doing, you’re doing you demonstrate but you also self analyse and then you don’t end with the demonstration.

Gillyanne 13:49
But then I model in the way that the student can understand and copy

Jeremy 13:54
Okay, now let’s talk modelling.

Gillyanne 13:56

Jeremy 13:56
Because what is modelling in this context?

Gillyanne 13:59
Well, go on then

Jeremy 14:00
Okay, modelling in this context is you’ve done all your analysis, you’ve worked out what’s going on, if we’re taught what the student is doing, you then change your voice or you, you… Yes you change your voice, because you don’t want them to model you. You change your voice to get closer to the sound that the student is making, and you do if you like a reproduction of the students singing that. So you are not giving your version you’re giving something that’s much closer to the students so that they can recognise it. They can hear it, feel it, understand it. And sometimes it’s quite useful to do an almost exact repetition of what the student is doing. And sometimes you just add a hint of something. So in your case with the student you were talking about, you made your voice darker and heavier and bigger, because then it was so much easier for the student to actually understand what you wanted.

Gillyanne 14:56
I also said what I was doing and why I was doing

Unknown Speaker 15:01
And that was really important.

Jeremy 15:02
I mean, it’s it’s sort of useful for me because a low voice, I very, very rarely work with someone who is my voice. So I’m constantly having to morph what I do in order to get slightly closer to whoever the singer is.

Gillyanne 15:16
Well, there’s musical theatre tenors

Jeremy 15:18
Oh, bless em.

Gillyanne 15:19
You are a hero

Bless em, and the sopranos as well.

So let’s also talk about the joy of comparison because I think this is part of modelling you know, because you’ve just talked about, maybe you will model to your students, how they are doing it, and you may want them to change. Now, one of the really smart things we can do is show in our own voice, the model that we want them to use, and then compare it with something else that is different

Jeremy 15:53
Yes, it’s the joy of wrong,

Gillyanne 15:54
get them to articulate what they hear and what they notice. Get them to do it in their voice. Yeah, because you know that we have so little sensory feedback from our voice, that sometimes it’s very hard to make those subtle changes that we want our our singers to do. But by contrasting and comparing,

Jeremy 16:17
oh you get to know much more,

Gillyanne 16:19
then they begin to realise what they’re doing and then they can begin to process their learning.

Jeremy 16:24
I think the other thing that you’ve got to remember is the both of us come from a classical training background, me as an instrumentalist more than as a singer. And I was only having a conversation about this with somebody last week. There is I think, still a thing in classical training, which is whatever you’re doing, it’s wrong. Just do it better do it differently, do it better, but whatever it is that you’re doing it wrong. Okay, now you’ve just made a change. That’s good. We’re getting closer but it’s still wrong. Okay, and this this thing about nothing is ever good enough.

Gillyanne 16:54
Do you know what some of you listening may think well, no, this this is this has changed now in our profession. But we do a lot of work with teachers

Jeremy 17:02
We do, I don’t think it has!

Gillyanne 17:03
And I gather that it is still going on, even with people who graduated fairly recently,

Jeremy 17:10
I don’t think it’s changed that much and in a way, it’s why we’re bringing up the joy of wrong because when you actually give someone permission in the studio to sing something really badly, it is so freeing. And I’ve always said, I’ve said this for…

Gillyanne 17:25
They usually fail to sing badly

Jeremy 17:27
They usually fail to sing really badly, which is so funny. I’ve said this for decades, that when you do something really wrong, whatever you think that wrong is, there is often something in the wrong that you do that is in fact correct and that you need. And what we do by deliberately doing something wrong, really exaggerating it is that you’ve discovered the Golden Nugget that is in there, and then you can use it to improve, it’s really fascinating that that happens so often

Gillyanne 17:56
Actually, I think this is really important because sometimes when you get a new client They come in with a list of things that they’ve been told they do wrong, or that they can’t do. And so then what happens is that they’re, you know, as they’re working with their voice, they’re spending a lot of time avoiding the things that they are not supposed to do because they’re wrong. And that completely interferes with the, the processing of the learning of the skills that they need. Really, because you know, the brain is is now not getting its reward because it’s it’s busy concentrating on the things it shouldn’t do.

Jeremy 18:31
Yes. It’s when you focus on something to avoid, you end up doing it really fascinating. Because the brain doesn’t understand negatives. So don’t think about the pink elephant. And instantly you’re thinking of the pink elephant but you’re not supposed to think because you have to think of it in order not to think of it and then you tie yourself in knots.

Gillyanne 18:52
Okay, right. Well, I’ll just leave the elephant in the room with you, I think.

Jeremy 18:58

Gillyanne 18:59
Can we talk a little bit about sound outcome. Because we singers are, as I said before auditory and kinaesthetic beings.

It’s inevitable that we are going to be listening for sound and listening to sound. Yes. And I think the trap that so many of us fall into is that we hear our student or our client, not making the sound that we want. I mean, that’s what we work with. I mean, we look at the singer as well, obviously. And we should be listening to what the singer themself wants to achieve. But ultimately, we are working with sound. We haven’t got a keyboard in front of us haven’t got a violin in our hands. We’re listening to the sound. And it’s very easy for us to be sound outcome driven.

Jeremy 19:53
There is there’s if you like first, because I’m just thinking of industry science people talk about industry sounds All the time and the musical theatre world is rife with I must sing in the industry sound And can I just say, categorically there is not an industry sound, there’s about 300 of them. So take your pick. Where I think you were, I think you do need to go is what’s the context I’m back on context again, as I often AM, because if you are singing something, let’s take the classical world and you’re singing a Richard Strauss opera, there is a hefty orchestra going scraping and banging in front of you going full blast. I’m allowed to say that because I’m an instrumentalist. And therefore there is a certain texture of sound that you need to get through without microphones. So if you like whatever your quotes “industry sound” is, it’s got to be of the type that will cut through or get across that sound. And you could say the same thing in any industry that there is a certain sort of catalogue of sounds?

Unknown Speaker 21:04
Yes I think that’s fair

Jeremy 21:06
I think where it gets really interesting and in musical theatre, although everybody is miked to the hilt now, there are certain… The thing about musical theatre is that because the focus is the words the lyrics the story, the character the moment by moment emotions, it’s almost there’s, we’ve got more leeway in a way because if as long as that sound sounds like that character having that emotion you can get away with it. So I think you know, we must have shed loads of twang and we must have this

Gillyanne 21:37
Or we must belt this note

Jeremy 21:38
We must belt this notice like, excuse me, have you listened to 15 performances of the same song, and you will hear 15 different versions. They don’t all sound the same.

Gillyanne 21:46
Well, not only that, but my belt isn’t your belt.

Jeremy 21:49
No, quite right

Gillyanne 21:51
it isn’t Idina Menzel’s belt

Jeremy 21:52
no my my belt would sound very odd if it was your belt

Gillyanne 21:55
I think this is really, really important because just as you said, Jeremy, ooh, I’m on hobbyhorse here. We have industry sounds and we have them in commercial music as well. Although there’s much more leeway for individuality there. We are looking for certain kinds of sound outcomes because they are the expectations of the genre.

Jeremy 22:15
We’re looking for sound catalogues, not sound outcomes.

Gillyanne 22:18
Yes, yes. Good. I’m glad you corrected me on that one. So what’s important is that you customise that for the individual singer. Yes, just like I did when I was modelling for that singer because her A4 in chest mechanism wasn’t the same as my A4 in chess mechanism. Neither by the way was her F5 when she sang something classical, it was very different the colour of it was different from mine. And I think that you know, whatever perhaps you know, system we use if we if we use methods because methods give us structure and are therefore very useful to some people, whatever system of sound analysis that we use, we need to have that awareness of that you could take six singers of the same voice category and the same age, singing the same phrase, they’re are not going to sound the same and Hallelujah, they’re not going to sound the same.

Jeremy 23:16
I mean, that’s part of the joy of performing and and performers is that you know, you bring YOU to the room and we’re back on singer in the room again. I had literally just had a thought which is about different genres of music, and I’m gonna, I’m going to look at classical, particularly operatic, musical theatre and almost all contemporary commercial. Okay? So let’s go here

Gillyanne 23:37
Have we got all day.

Jeremy 23:37
Let’s just explore this thought. And it is about when does the singer need to be quotes “fixed” in a genre, and when don’t they and this is to do with training. So if you look at the training for a classical particularly operatic singer, that training period is long because this is all about here are… Here are the sounds that you need to make. They are absolutely specific. They’re very finely balanced. A lot of the training is about getting that very, very fine control within this catalogue of sounds.

Gillyanne 24:11
And it also goes, you know, it usually starts in the mid teens in the life cycle. And the voice isn’t really maturing until the mid 20s. And that’s another reason why it takes a long time, I think.

Jeremy 24:25
Yes, and also, of course, it’s acoustic. You go to musical theatre, and what you’re what the musical theatre casting directors are looking for is the character making that particular set of sounds within this genre, and musical theatre is genre eclectic. So it will grab any genre that’s going on at the moment and then write a musical on it. And usually you can have several different genres within the same musical. So if you like there’s a shorter period of training where you have to make these sounds and then there’s more development of our character and therefore, there’s more likely that it is not how you sound, it’s how your character sounds. And since in every musical, you’re playing a different character, there’s more leeway. There’s more development. Now go to CCM. Right. CCM is fascinating

Gillyanne 25:14
Contemporary commercial singing,

Jeremy 25:15
Contemporary commercial music in almost every genre. This is really fascinating because if you like the the training period can be zero. I mean, you can get people just walking onto a stage picking up a microphone and creating sound. So although thankfully there are now because also CCM is about longevity, rather than the one hit wonder. What I think is really fascinating is that there is a very early and major self development period

Gillyanne 25:45
because it’s about the individuality

Jeremy 25:47
It IS about the individual person, the individual sound, the individual style. And a lot of the early training is about finding your own voice, finding your own style, finding your own niche, your own genre. What then gets fascinating is you find your genre, you record something, you have a hit with it, you’re pretty much then stuck with that genre. Because that audience loves you singing that thing. And it’s a brave performer who then completely changes the genre, because you will lose the audience that you’ve just gained

Gillyanne 26:20
It also depends on your contract.

Jeremy 26:22
Yep. So isn’t that interesting that the fixed area in the training comes at different or in the performance life comes at different points?

Gillyanne 26:31
Interesting observation

Jeremy 26:31
I literally just came up with that. So I hope you agree with that. If you don’t just make some notes, let us know.

Gillyanne 26:38
Can we just go back to the idea that six singers could be singing the same phrase? Yeah. And it would sound different. And the thing that I listen for is, does it sound like that voice? Rather than that sound? Do ya? Do you see hear feel what I mean?

Yeah, I do.

It’s suddenly it sounds authentic in that person’s voice.

Jeremy 27:05
Okay, this is partly about templates, which is here’s the template that you have to fit and you go, oh, I’ll try and squeeze my voice into the into a size 12, even though I’m a size 16, because somebody has told me that that’s the sound I need to make, and we go, well done. You’re doing a really good job, but it doesn’t sound like you. Okay, so how do I…Excuse me. How do we identify what sounds like you?

Gillyanne 27:28
Well, I don’t know. It’s so it’s so hard, isn’t it? Authenticity is maybe in the ear of the beholder.

Jeremy 27:35
I’d love to do a course on authenticity

Gillyanne 27:37
Would you?

Jeremy 27:37
I would. I would. I would love to host a course on authenticity, because it’s one of my things. It’s very interesting. And first of all, there are reactions that you have when you go Oh, that that that has an extra layer of something that I go, Oh, yes, yeah, I recognise that it has a layer of truth to it if you like, and some people are…. Some interestingly, some people can can take their personal truth and a lot of musical theatre singers will do this. They’ll take their personal truth and bring it to that character.

Gillyanne 28:07
They invest it, yes

Jeremy 28:07
And that’s about bringing your life history into that characterization and what that character is going through, so that they can sound authentic in lots and lots of different musical styles within the theatre canon. What’s odd is that they then don’t often sound authentic in the contemporary commercial canon, because that particular flavour of truth doesn’t work.

Gillyanne 28:29

Jeremy 28:30
It’s a completely different flavour of truth.

Gillyanne 28:32
I’ve had some really interesting debates on social media where, you know, somebody put up a sound file and a video of a performance. And I’ve watched it and listened to it and I thought, well, but it’s not doing it for me because it’s not doing the job of a musical theatre performance. But the jazz singers in the group have said Oh, but this is lovely, I love how so and so and you know, it’s so emotional. I’m thinking there’s no journey.

Jeremy 29:01
But that’s context again, which is you know, what is the song designed to do? I mean, we are way off in a way, we’re way off the topic of working with the singer in the room but all of this is really good background

Gillyanne 29:11
Well we’re not because the singer in the room in the room might want to be a commercial singer, or a classical singer. Yeah, well, the singer in the room might want to be a musical theatre singer. So therefore, some of the decisions that we make, together with that singer, will change.

Jeremy 29:26
And I’m going to bring the voice in simply because I want to

Gillyanne 29:30
what, you mean the voice as in The Voice

Jeremy 29:33
The Voice capital T, capital V.

Gillyanne 29:35
Oh you mean the show Oh, yeah.

Jeremy 29:37
Because we were we were judges on on it a couple of years ago, and

Gillyanne 29:43
We were coaches.

Jeremy 29:45
Thank you, that.

Gillyanne 29:46
We weren’t judges, we were not on screen.

Jeremy 29:48
Same thing. Same thing. We were judging.

Gillyanne 29:50
We didn’t sit in the chair.

Jeremy 29:52
We sat in a chair and we judged, okay? It was really interesting. I had a absolutely specific reason to bring the are first of all, loved working on on that show was actually really interesting to do. And we did a lot of the early stages of auditioning. And there was, people would come in and sing, essentially a pop song or a rock song or indie song or whatever. And you’d be able to go, you’ve had classic, you’ve had classical training, and you go, you’re a musical theatre singer, you heard some of the musical theatre, stylistic things which didn’t fit the indie. And there was one thing, one person that I thought you’re really good. I am going to give you one sentence to say, I’m going to say one sentence to you, which I think may make the difference, which is I said to her you’re sounding too musical theatre. That was it. That was all I said. And she in fact, went through to the next round and I got a note from one of the coaches in that round to say, you said she was too musical theatre, I couldn’t hear any. And I’m thinking Good for you lady.

Gillyanne 30:58
That worked

Jeremy 30:58
That worked really well. Yeah, it’s really interesting that you can because we do hear this, we hear people recording CCM songs. And I’m going… there’s a big range of styles that you can fit in for that song. But even so, that sounds too whatever that sounds too classical lessons too musical theatre that sounds too something.

Gillyanne 31:22
I’m done. I think we should listen to questions. I have no more to say on this subject at the moment,

Jeremy 31:28
we have two really interesting AMAs for you. So let’s do the first one.

Sam 31:36
I’d love to know what to do if there are four or five singers, all with different personalities, and maybe who all want slightly different outcomes, maybe have slightly different techniques.

Jeremy 31:49
Okay, this is a question from Sam. It’s a really interesting one. Now we’re assuming that you’re talking group, singing lessons and group training.

Gillyanne 31:56
Now there are two possible scenarios here. One Is that you could be working in an institution where you have to work in groups. The other could be that you’re working in your own studio. Yes. And you have your your singers in groups. My advice, if you’re in scenario two is that you put them in groups where they can sort of help each other with peer learning, where they can sort of not completely match in terms of skills and aspirations but where, you know, they can, they can learn by listening to each other, and you can give them some I hate to say generic because I don’t believe in generic exercises, but there will be some techniques across the board that you will be able to do with them. You may decide that one route for working with those singers will be that you’ll choose two songs that they’ll all work on, and then they can listen to each other and it becomes a discussion point. Obviously, you will need to customise keys and things like that. That would be one thing that I would do, and I think they would really enjoy it I

Jeremy 33:01
want to pick up on that last bit which is give them give everybody in the group, the same song to work on and actually rather than getting you know, singer A to sing the whole song, singer B to sing the whole song, actually, you, you give them a line each and they have to follow on from each other and match as much as they can. And then you can play games with this, which is you can draw straws so you know which order’s somebody going to go in.

Gillyanne 33:26
You’re so mean

Jeremy 33:27
Or you have, you write the lyrics out on pieces of paper and each person picks three pieces of paper and they have to sing those lyrics as they come up in the song. There are all sorts of things you can play with,

Gillyanne 33:38
Also they can do them in different ways. So to using using different emotions,

Jeremy 33:42
By the way I think it was Sam was suggested the jar, the jar of emotions, which I absolutely love,

Gillyanne 33:52
because we have a technique called Answers on a Postcard

Jeremy 33:54
we do

Gillyanne 33:55
and Sam works with a lot of young singers. So she said rather than getting to come up with

Jeremy 34:02
the emotional reason for the song

Gillyanne 34:03
or the intention of the song, that she gives them different cards, and they try things out.

Jeremy 34:09
And now I want to go

Gillyanne 34:10
If you’re not using your own technique in that situation, Sam put it into practice.

Jeremy 34:14
Now I want to start combining because I think this would be huge fun is that you, you go through once with the song and you get them to sing, each person sings different lines, so that they have to create the song themselves. And then you get them to pick the emotion card out of the jar, and you do it all again, but each person has to play the emotion that they’re holding. And that would be so much fun to do. Because it’s quite likely that somebody will get an emotion that absolutely does not match their their lyric line at all.

Gillyanne 34:45
And then they can have a laugh.

Jeremy 34:46
Yeah. There’s a second thing if you like, which is if people are at different levels. First of all, that what we’ve just described will work really well whatever levels people are at because it’s a sort of joyous game to play with the song but if you at different levels, I think it’s really interesting if you want to take a technique that – and if this, you know, if half the room can can already do that technique, it becomes a reminder. And if half the room can’t do that technique, it becomes just a little teaching tool. And you just pop that technique in to teach to everybody as a group, and everybody does it. Now, you talked about peer learning, and I think we should just unpack the peer learning thing a little bit.

Gillyanne 35:32
Go on then

Jeremy 35:32
Okay. peer learning is where you get your students to, for instance, rate each other. Now, this can be tricky if you have some bitchy students, obviously. So you have to be fairly careful about how you set this up. But what I think is interesting is if you say, Listen to that, listen to the student next to you and give them choose a positive word that comes up for you when they sing

Gillyanne 36:01

Jeremy 36:02
Because this is about feedback.

Gillyanne 36:03
Yes. So you’re looking for the positive. Yeah, I think that’s really nice. And actually, if you’re working within an institution, that’s something that you can use so long as that space is held. Yes. So the group within an institution and it doesn’t become a way of people. Not necessarily being mean to each other. But you know, I’m better than I’m better than you.

Jeremy 36:24

Gillyanne 36:25
Which we want to avoid. Okay. Yes. Whew. Let’s have a listen to the other question shall we?

Jeremy 36:31
So this is…

Joanna 36:33
Hi Gillyanne and Jeremy I’m absolutely loving this podcast. So my question is, if you have a student who you’ve worked with, and they have aspirated, phonated, resonated articulated intonated even intimated but you know what, they still just don’t sound great. At what point do you call it a day?

Gillyanne 36:55
Oh, my Lord!

Jeremy 36:56
Such a great question.

Gillyanne 36:57
That is a corker of a question.

Jeremy 36:59
When do you actually give up? Okay,

Gillyanne 37:04
I think it’s really important for you as a teacher to know that there are certain goals that you will have. And I think that’s okay. It’s okay for you to have those goals because maybe you’re working within a particular framework of, you know, you, you, perhaps you run training courses, perhaps you put on musicals or something like that. Perhaps you don’t like working with hobby singers, you know, as a teacher recognise that! Because it could be that the student continues to enjoy their sessions, but they are not reaching the goals that you want for them. I think

Jeremy 37:45
that they’re not reaching the goals that you want. They might be reaching the goals that they want.

Gillyanne 37:49
Yeah, I mean, and I have advised teachers in a situation where they’ve been working with a student who just wants to sing songs and the teacher in fact, doesn’t really enjoy that. Well, this is when you find a colleague, who will be perfect for that student, and you discuss with them, move it, moving them on. And I think that’s important because you’re not, you’re going to cease to get joy out of your teaching, which means you won’t be doing it as well as you could. It’ll also mean to you or to an extent, maybe you’re wasting your skills. So it is okay for us as teachers to have ideal clients that we want to work with. There is always another teacher who will be the best teacher for that client. Don’t be afraid to move them on.

Jeremy 38:43
I want to I want to break down because I want to break some some of that down because there’s some stuff in the middle. I think you’ve sort of gone to the end result. Yeah. The first thing I want to say is what is your job as a teacher? And in fact, as a teacher, you will have several jobs and they may they You may hit all of them in one client, it’s actually unlikely. But for instance, your job may be to help them improve. Fantastic. It may be that you are a pair of educated ears to allow them to sing to. And that’s it. That may be enough that maybe all they want. And maybe it’s a combination of the two, maybe, you know, they just want to sing to you, and then you go, Well, maybe you could improve this, and they try it again. And they either do or they don’t. But you know, if you like your main job in that circumstance is to be is to hold the space for them to sing. And that could be the only thing that they want from a singing teacher. And where Gillyanne went, is, you know, you may not want to do that you may want to work with people who are more motivated and therefore you pass them on and I’m going Yes, that is the case. But there may be a case where you go actually, if my job is to hold the space for them to experience singing, and that’s all they want. I’m being successful in my job. So in fact, my goal for them is not their goal. And that then becomes a decision about whether you want to support them in what they want to do, which is simply to sing in front of somebody who understands, or even just to release some emotion, when they open their mouths, which they may not have any other opportunity to do

Gillyanne 40:21
And to experience music. And maybe, I’m really glad you’ve made those points, actually, maybe what you could also do if you have two or three people in that situation is bring them together. And we’ve we’ve certainly advise teachers to do that. You know what those students then improve? Yes, they have more fun. You possibly earn more money per hour?

Jeremy 40:45
Yes. That’s always good.

Gillyanne 40:46
Yeah. And they get that that vehicle that they need.

Jeremy 40:51
So in a way, we’ve sort of split off into two different answers to Joanna’s question, which is: one is if you really feel that you are not getting enough to benefit yourself from this student, it means that you and the student may not be a good match, in which case you look around for somebody nearby who is going to be a better match. And in that circumstance that I’ve described, which is people want to sing to educated ears, one of the things that you can do is hand them to a vocal coach an accompanist, somebody who can play for them, not necessarily know as much vocal technique as you do, but since that situation isn’t really required, they might do better with a pianist who will just play

Gillyanne 41:33
Or someone who holds karaoke nights. Yeah.

Jeremy 41:37
So that’s, that’s strand one. Strand two is actually to look at your own goals for the students that you’ve got and decide whether they’re appropriate or not. And some of them may be appropriate, but it may be that it’s on a longer term basis than you think. So they may be just very slow in absorbing stuff they may make take them a long time to absorb stuff. And you’re going well, we did that last week, you should have got that by now. And it may take them a month or two months to get to the point where they go, Oh, I understand what you’re talking about. And there’s a little side issue here, which is if your student doesn’t get it, consider that you have explained it in a way that doesn’t work for them, so explain it in a different way.

Gillyanne 42:20
And I think there are sometimes blocks that a student can have I’m digressing slightly here, but I can recall when…

Jeremy 42:28
This is the This is a Voice podcast. We digress all the time

Gillyanne 42:31
When I was teaching at the East 15 acting school and working in groups, you know that there was some singers there who were so scared of singing that they could hardly do anything. And I would work with them for a year and they’d have a few one to ones 20 minute one to ones. And I do recall one particular person who went away, and 10 years later she came on a course of mine that was running. I was just doing a workshop. And I looked at her and I said, So when did you learn to sing in tune? And she said, after I left drama school, whatever you did, suddenly embedded, and now I can do it. And that can happen too.

Jeremy 43:17
Yes, that’s the really long term stuff that sometimes you don’t even realise is happening. That’s very nice.

Gillyanne 43:25
That’s a nice moment to end isn’t it?

Jeremy 43:26
Hopefully Joanna we’ve given you comprehensive ideas for that one. I think it’s a really fascinating question. Because there are sometimes people that I go, we don’t work together, we don’t fit or even and you’ve moved on and I need to move you to somebody else or I’ve moved on and I need to move you to somebody else.

Gillyanne 43:46
You could be making a difference and not know you’re making a difference

Jeremy 43:49
you could. So that sounds like a nice place to round up

Gillyanne 43:53
think it’s a good place to stop

Jeremy 43:54
Yes, I’m going to say that today’s episode is sponsored by Vocal Process and we have a featured resource today which is Webinar 4, Finding the YOU in Every Song, and this is a downloadable streaming video, which is an hour of Gillyanne and I showing you various exercises, chatting to all sorts of things, we analyse five completely different song performances, two songs, five performances, completely different and what makes them work and what makes them successful.

Gillyanne 44:23
And they’re different genres aren’t they?

Jeremy 44:23
The two songs are different genres. But interestingly, the singers of each song are different genres as well.

Gillyanne 44:30
So they’re coming from different backgrounds

Jeremy 44:32
Completely. And we also give you five things that matter most to you when you sing. And what’s fascinating about this is when you choose one of them that may not be the one that you love the most, it will change the way you sing the song. So I’m not going to say any more than that check out Webinar 4, Finding the YOU in Every Song, and that’s on https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/Webinars and that link will be in the show notes at the end. I’m going to say to you as well to remember to subscribe to this podcast on your favourite platform. We are listed on here we go, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Deezer, Spotify, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Listen Notes, Overcast, PocketCast, Castro, Castbox and iHeartRadio and probably some more that I don’t know about. Check out the YouTube channel as well Vocal Process or https://YouTube.com/VocalProcess because we are videoing these podcasts now I don’t tend to put the videos out until several days after we put the podcast out, but the video will be there so you can see the faces that we pull at each other

Gillyanne 45:41
and the strobing on my outfit today

Jeremy 45:43
Yep, and and also subscribe to our newsletter which is https://vocalprocess.co.uk and finally, download your free build your own tilting larynx template on https://vocalprocess.co.uk/build-your-own-tilting-larynx. That’s fun. We’ve used we actually use that still in our courses. We’re running a course next week that we’re going to be using it in. We’ve sent it out to people, so yeah!

Gillyanne 46:10
But it’s full.

Jeremy 46:13
Yeah, sorry, course is full can’t come not doing it again until 2021. So we are done.

Gillyanne 46:20
We are done.

Jeremy 46:20
Great. And we’ll see you and hear you and talk to you next time.

Gillyanne 46:24
Yeah, look forward to your feedback.

Jeremy 46:26

Announcer 46:39
This is a Voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.