Printer Friendly

Teaching voice teachers.



[This month's Voice Pedagogy column is the first in a series exploring how we prepare our future generations of singing teachers for their important work. Representatives from prominent graduate voice pedagogy programs will discuss their curricula, educational philosophies, facilities, and special features that might be unique to their situation. These articles grow from the work of the NATS Pedagogy Committee, created by President Martha Randall and chaired by Katherine Barnes-Burroughs.]


Darlene Wiley

THE CONCEPT AND CONTENT of the voice pedagogy program at the University of Texas at Austin are influenced by the highly diverse and international student population (4500 international students from 126 countries), access to a "technologically rich" learning environment, and the sheer mass of students, faculty, and staff (71,000 in all). The major challenge for the UT-Austin pedagogy program is to exploit and incorporate the vast expertise found throughout the campus. The confluence of technology and instruction has been given the highest priority on this campus. Campus wide initiatives, advanced faculty training, and competitive grants encourage online course development and allow voice pedagogy to flourish and reinvent itself annually.

In 1998, voice pedagogy was taught with a single textbook, a few video and audio materials, and a bushel of handouts for the class. Today the core courses, a 32-week graduate class and a 16-week DMA class entitled Technology in Applied Voice Study, are taught in "smart classrooms" along with a state-of-the-art voice lab. Ancillary materials include interactive spectrography programs, the "Texassings" web site, CD-ROMS, and unlimited storage space up to one terabyte for "eReserves" (hundreds of readings, CDs for listening, DVDs, articles, on-line assignments available to enrolled students). The original model for the "tech saturated" Voice Pedagogy Program and preliminary web site comes from The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Instructional Technology Services ( and its vast array of online instruction. Of particular interest to voice teachers are the foreign language instructional sites: Francais Interactif (; Tex French Grammar (; the Foreign Language Teachers' Toolbox ( toolbox.shtml); and the Liberal Arts Compendium ( webcomp/) for other languages such as Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, German, Spanish, etc.

The pinnacle of the voice pedagogy program is the highly selective DMA degree in Applied Voice with Pedagogy Emphasis, designed for only the strongest performers who wish to prepare themselves for tenure track positions at universities and colleges. All DMA students in the pedagogy emphasis program must give two full-length recitals, one lecture recital, and are strongly encouraged to participate in the Butler Opera Center, Austin Lyric Opera, the Choral Arts Society, or Chamber Singers. Currently four out of forty total graduate voice students are enrolled in this course of study. In their first tenure track positions, our graduates have been asked to teach:

* courses in voice pedagogy, studio voice, and diction;

* survey courses for nonmajors, such as Introduction to Western Music, World Music, Music Fundamentals;

* nonmajor applied voice, class voice, ensembles (choirs, glee clubs, and jazz choirs), and opera workshop;

* Medieval and Baroque music history for music majors.

In some cases, this has been accomplished while simultaneously building a voice lab. Our Voice Pedagogy Program provides the best and most thorough training for these students who are often expected to be jack-of-all-trades in their first teaching assignment.

The Butler School of Music offers three degree programs in pedagogy: a DMA in applied voice with Pedagogy Emphasis, and a MM and BM in Pedagogy and Literature. The latter two degrees have become obsolete since these students are urged either to pursue careers in music education or the more flexible Bachelors of Arts in Music. Music Studies students enroll in a one semester introductory voice pedagogy course.

Curriculum: Voice Performance Specialization in Voice Pedagogy


8 hours: VOI 490 Advanced Graduate Course in Music Performance

3 hours: MUS 688 Seminar in Theory and Composition: Analytical Techniques

6 hours: MUS 387 Advanced Studies in Music

Topic 1: The Solo Song

Topic 9: Opera

3 hours: MUS 399 Treatise

A research paper of a scholarly nature within the field of voice pedagogy and voice science.

6 hours: MUS 399R and MUS 399W Dissertation

3 recitals: one of which will be a lecture recital, and one of which should be prepared without the assistance of the supervising professor.


9 hours: MUS 380, Advanced Studies in the History of Music, series (3 Topics)

Topic 1: Medieval

Topic 2: Renaissance

Topic 3: Baroque

Topic 4: Eighteenth Century

Topic 5: Nineteenth Century

Topic 6: Twentieth Century

3 hours: MUS 381 Reference and Research Materials in Music

9 hours: Additional course work in voice pedagogy and communications

3 hours: CSC 393D Evaluation and Remediation in Speech/Language Pathology

Topic 1: Voice Disorders

Topic 7: Diagnostics

4 hours: MUS 480 Graduate Voice Pedagogy (2 semesters)

2 hours: MUS 280N Technology in Voice Study

6 additional music courses chosen from the areas of advanced theory, composition, musicology, music education, Psychology of Music, conducting, and ensemble.

3 related courses outside the Music Department which will complement study in voice pedagogy (i.e., speech, acoustics/physics, foreign language, linguistics, psychology, drama, etc.)

Proficiency examination in one foreign language Total 56 hours

Beginning in the fall of 2009, the 6 hours of electives will be structured to include professional observation and research. The observation and research will be conducted at the Texas A & M University System Health Science Center under the supervision of Dr. Reginald Baugh, MD, and Professor and Division Director of Otolaryngology, Temple, Texas and Kyla Sherrard, PhD, CCC-SLP, along with their staff.

Two features of this degree plan include a dissertation of a scholarly nature within the field of voice pedagogy, and a class in the Department of Speech Communications and Disorders, Evaluation and Remediation in Speech/Language Pathology Topic 1: Voice Disorders. (The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has about 175 undergraduate majors, 80 graduate students, and a faculty and staff of 30.) In addition to the above listed courses, DMA students are required to enroll in advanced diction (poetry analysis and translation) and complete all basic courses in French, Italian, and German, not previously studied. Russian has become a part of the advanced diction requirement as well. All graduate voice majors are strongly encouraged to enroll in additional piano instruction since keyboard skills are becoming a necessity for landing a college teaching position. Graduate students have flexibility in enrolling in independent studies or directed readings for additional credit hours in voice research. In no way does this degree impede a student's singing career; all are required to study voice, enroll in advanced art song/opera coaching, and explore all performance possibilities.

The Voice Lab, a major component of the pedagogy degree, was created in 1998 with major grants from the College of Fine Arts, Intel, and Microsoft. The main purpose is two-fold: biofeedback for all levels of applied voice instruction (including remote Texas high schools), and singing voice research. The DMA course, Technology in Applied Voice Study, is a fast-paced, intensive course that covers recording technology for speech and singing, data collection, programming interactive tutorials, spectrographic analysis, and EGG (electroglottograph) analysis. The prerequisites for this course are teaching experience and advanced PC experience. Without the continued expertise of Jim Kerkhoff, Instructional Technology Dean and his staff of 13 full-time and more than 30 part time employees, the Voice Lab would never succeed. Voice research in the lab has involved every level of student. Some volunteer to gain expertise; others are paid for their assistance by competitive grants. Responsibilities include installation of software and hardware, writing lab protocols and tutorials, programming, recording, interviewing, translating, editing, data collection and analysis, website design, and grant writing.

The 32-week Voice Pedagogy course endeavors to prepare graduate students for teaching applied voice in the community, in the private studio, and in higher education. All voice teaching assistants are required to enroll. Course topics include: an introduction on how we learn; basic musical skills, educational theory; an introduction to brain activity of vocal functions; alignment; breathing practices; physics of sound; understanding vocal resonance; the function of articulators; registration; and disorders pertaining to improper use of the vocal instrument. We have added three weeks addressing the issues of men teaching women and women teaching men, as well as a four-week discussion of appropriate vocal literature and additional published source materials for beginning voice students of all ages. There is also a significant practicum component for this class: each student is required to teach two nonmajor voice students who enroll for Voice 201. Midterm exams are "in-class" lessons observed by the entire class. The final exam is a recital for all nonmajor voice students, averaging about 60 students.

Most graduate voice students will teach at some point in their careers, so while voice pedagogy is not required for the BM in Voice, MM in Opera, MM in Applied Voice, or DMA in Applied Voice, the UT voice faculty strongly encourage students to enroll. Support from the faculty is one of the major reasons behind the success of the program. While studying voice at UT-Austin, many graduate students teach at the 20 local middle and high schools that offer private voice instruction. Another employment opportunity for our students is the network of informal classes offered by the university and community colleges. Several DMA graduates who are still living in the greater Austin area offer instruction to the many "wannabees" of the "Live Music Capital of the World" who encounter vocal issues during their performances, or who simply want to better the quality of their singing. Some even teach lobbyists at the state capitol how to command their speaking voices for extended use in the legislature.

In conclusion, here are the major lessons we learned when developing a multitiered voice pedagogy program:

* Create a world view incorporating the widest possible view of classical singing from international artists of every culture. "One man's nightingale is another man's crow." This sanguine quote comes from my late colleague, Prof. Walter Ducloux.

* Find out exactly what skills DMA graduates need to land a college teaching position. See what teaching opportunities are available in the community for all voice students, including undergraduates.

* One cannot have too much information about the voice or too many recordings.

* Know your sources (Vennard, Applemann, McCoy, Rossing, Benade, Sundberg, Fink, Lagefoged, Miller, Sataloff, et al.). There will always be a graduate student in class who would like to prove you wrong!

* Explore all possible options, particularly in terms of what technology your campus can provide. Sit on the IT person's door step and become a nuisance.

* Talk with colleagues at other institutions and share everything that works. There is no perfect syllabus.

* Keep a recorder handy for any and all sound samples. (We use a Marantz CD recorder or H4 Zoom; even an iPod recorder will do.) One never knows when a chance recording will immediately cement a concept during a lecture.

* Send your students hunting for YouTube examples to demonstrate topics such as timbre, breathing, and alignment that are covered in class.

* Make your students really work and teach them how to speak and write intelligently about singing and its value to society. This prepares them for their first job interview/audition and helps them to learn to talk about their life's work.

* When hunting for funding, collaborate with your colleagues across campus in engineering, drama, speech pathology, foreign language, or even physics.

* The hardest audience to convince that learning about the voice is essential for performance and teaching is beginning freshmen who already seem to know everything. Trying to convince them is a great learning experience which translates well when writing a grant for funding. It prepares one for any administrator's questions or skepticism.

* Apply for every possible grant. Competition for funds on any college campus is fierce, but just keep trying--eventually you will succeed.

Darlene Wiley has been critically acclaimed on three continents for her work in lieder, opera, and oratorio. She began her career as lyric coloratura at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, performing over 50 roles in such operas as I pagliacci, Die Zauberflote, Don Pasquale, Tales of Hoffmann, La traviata, and Le nozze di Figaro. A veteran of over 1500 performances, Ms. Wiley has sung in more than 25 opera houses in Germany and the United States.

Wiley's broadcasting credits include PBS, Canadian Broadcasting, KUT, KLRU's Front Row Center, Deutschefunk, Hessischer Rundfunk, Seoul Educational Broadcasting, and WFMT. She is currently Professor of Voice at the University of Texas at Austin, director of the CASA Vocal Arts Lab, and supervisor of the DMA Voice Pedagogy Program. The Casa Vocal Arts Lab, established in November 1997, began to combine high speed digital processing with the centuries-old study of classical singing.


Patti Peterson

AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO in Boulder, most voice students from undergraduates to doctoral candidates complete one to three voice pedagogy courses. Our philosophy is that all singers should understand how the voice works, both anatomically and acoustically, whether they choose a career as a professional or amateur singer, or as a singing voice teacher in a private or academic setting. The voice faculty believes a singer who has a strong pedagogic background will, at the very least, do no harm as a teacher, and, at best, become an informed and creative singer/ teacher. We try to foster in singers the ability to independently assess their own vocal progress, choose competent teachers after leaving school, and even teach themselves when necessary.

Undergraduate voice majors studying for a Bachelor of Music degree take a basic voice pedagogy course, taught separately from the graduate courses. The course includes anatomy and acoustics of the larynx, choral techniques, and repertoire. Team-taught by a voice professor and a choral specialist, the course is also open to BA and BMT (music theater) students to take as an elective.

Masters and most doctoral students complete a semester pedagogy course that delves into voice anatomy and acoustics in more depth, as well as voice health, registers, phonation, vowel formants, and posture. A second course, a practical teaching seminar, follows. The seminar considers all vocal methods and requires the participants to teach both in and out of class for a semester, having their teaching evaluated by the professor and class peers. In-class lessons are recorded on DVD. Practice students are recruited from choirs and voice classes in the area, and class participants are required to teach a voice type other than their own. The seminar is designed to gently offer constructive criticism to budding teachers in a positive atmosphere. Students in the class observe all the CU voice faculty members teach, in the belief that open studios foster healthy attitudes toward the art of singing. A third course is offered for graduate students that focuses on the young voice, childhood to the teenage years, from anatomic, teaching, and literature perspectives. Repertoire is discussed at great length, with in-class repertoire projects presented by the students.

A small lab is in the process of being assembled, with VoceVista[TM] software available, as well as an electroglottograph. The voice area has strong relationships with two ENTs in the Boulder-Denver area, and students are encouraged to seek them out not only for personal voice examinations, but also for group visits.

Masters students who elect the pedagogy track will take the above courses and write a 30-50 page pedagogy thesis. Most of these papers are research documents that explore such topics as body work for singers, the effects of native language on articulatory patterns in singing, and the effectiveness of cardio training on breathing, to name a few. The papers are done under the supervision of the main professor and a pedagogy advisor.

Doctoral students are required to write a pedagogic thesis. This document may be a research paper or project, and may include directing, choral work, diction research, or collaboration of some kind with a voice professional. Independent study is available in the form of supervised teaching, but most DMA students who wish to teach in academia receive a teaching assistantship for 1-3 years, where they are directly supervised. TAs will teach freshmen voice majors, theater majors, class voice, as well as music majors from other performance areas. They are given responsibilities that correspond to the typical duties they can expect in an academic setting, such as organizing syllabi, coordinating with pianists, running a weekly performance class, and maintaining a voice hotline for prospective local students seeking teachers. They meet monthly with their supervisor, who also attends their weekly performance classes. These students leave the university with a strong sense of their responsibilities as a teacher and a commitment to teaching excellence.

Some support courses in the voice area include German and French song literature, Alexander classes for both beginners and advanced students, Body Mapping presentations, the usual theory and aural skills courses, and also advanced theory courses that often include song literature (e.g., a Mahler song course that is part of a doctoral theory seminar), as well as many coaching and diction opportunities for all voice students. Students in the performance voice degrees study piano, at least two languages, diction, conducting, and opera theater. There are opportunities to participate in world and early music ensembles, as well as to audition for musicals and operas, three productions taking place during the academic year, and two shows done in summer.

Colorado also offers a Professional Certificate program, geared to post-masters students who seek a professional singing career. In addition to voice lessons, coaching, required opera and recital programs, PC students take courses through the College of Music's Entrepreneurship Center, and practical courses in resume preparation, agent auditioning, and role preparation, which are designed to prepare them for entry into the professional music world. PC students are encouraged to perform off campus and therefore are allowed more leave time than other degree students.

CU Boulder's College of Music enrolls approximately 500 students, 120 of whom are singers. The atmosphere is supportive, intense, fun, and full of energy. The voice professors are all trained pedagogues; while employing teaching different methods, all are dedicated to the principles embodied in our open studio policy. Students are often fiercely loyal to their studio teachers, but they work in an atmosphere that encourages them to seek new ideas, to learn independence as musicians, and to keep open minds about the many ways to teach and learn singing.

Patti Peterson is a soprano whose background includes study in piano, voice, voice pedagogy, and movement. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in piano from Salem College and Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in voice from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Much of her DMA work involved the performance, translation, and study of the songs of Edvard Grieg. She studied voice with Barbara Doscher and Joan Jacobowsky, and coached with Gerhard Husch, Martin Katz, Martin Isepp, Dalton Baldwin, and Gerard Souzay. She has studied modern dance and the Feldenkrais and Alexander movement systems.

Peterson has sung in recital and concert throughout the United States and in Germany, often collaborating with dancers and actors in contemporary works. She has given master classes at many colleges in the U.S. and has been invited to work with students at the Hochschule fur Musik "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin on several occasions. Patti Peterson is Associate Professor of voice at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where she coordinates the voice pedagogy program, specializing in a teaching style that integrates the practical application of knowledge of anatomy and acoustics of the larynx with body work and ease of vowel production.

Scott McCory, Associate Editor
COPYRIGHT 2008 National Association of Teachers of Singing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:VOICE PEDAGOGY
Author:Randall, Martha; Barnes-Burroughs, Katherine
Publication:Journal of Singing
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2008
Previous Article:The women composer question in the 21st century.
Next Article:What to expect during a visit with a voice doctor. Part I: the history.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters