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Training Tenor Voices.

Richard Miller, in his new book Training Tenor Voices, offers the vocal world a first: a manual that demystifies the existence and development of the voice accurately termed on the dust jacket "a mystery to most audiences and teachers alike." Those readers familiar with Miller's other work, especially The Structure of Singing (also Schirmer, 1986) will not be at all surprised at the clarity, sensibility, and organization of this new volume.

Unlike other books claiming to accomplish what this one indeed does, Miller dispenses with interviews of singing teachers and acknowledged performers which so often prove vague and uninformative; nor is the book a collection of experiments or studies of the throats of famous singers that only an otolaryngologist or acoustical engineer could understand. Instead, Miller's approach is a unique balance of voice science, physiology, and old-fashioned sensibility. The book examines various historical and international approaches, assesses the validity of each, and shares Miller's own accessible vocal method and its applications.

Miller provides 173 pages packed full of vocal and pedagogical history, specialist descriptions, analyses of problem passages from the tenor literature (with music examples included) seventy-two exercises for the development of the voice with instructions for their use, anatomical photographs and drawings, and select spectrographic analyses of the voices of famous tenors. Training Tenor Voices combines these resources with Miller's keen insight and experience as a performer and teacher.

The book is constructed "organically"--as is the healthy singing voice. It systematically studies the issues of breath, support, phonation, resonation, registration, range extension, classification, problem assessment, and daily maintenance. The vocalises offered tackle all the requisite tools: legato, staccato, flexibility, velocity, vowel modification, pianissimo, and messa di voce. Miller trains the teacher and the singer, paying particular attention to diagnostic skills and trouble-shooting; he successfully demystifies tenor training by remaining unafraid to question the standard symbolisms so often misunderstood and misused in vocal instruction. His no-nonsense discussions of breath and support will inspire even the most seasoned instructors to rethink their daily presentations of these essential basics. Also of special interest are Miller's insights into the countertenor, the baritone-to-tenor transition, and the pedagogical use of the falsetto.

The inclusion of state-of-the-art vocal technology will impress even the most traditional vocal instructors with its practicality. Miller uses these studies, especially the spectrographics of four famous tenors, to illustrate what the discerning ear should already hear. His inclusion of the analyses, in addition to his ever-competent commentary, are valuable teaching resources with regard to registry and classification.

Training Tenor Voices is a "user-friendly," practical guide for young instructors as well as for experienced professors. For beginning teachers, a glossary of foreign and unfamiliar terms is provided, as well as a guide to the International Phonetic Alphabet which is used frequently throughout the text. The vocalise and repertory examples (taken from the standard literature by Handel, Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, and Puccini) can be used in many instances straight from the book. Veteran voice-builders will rejoice in the topical, goal-oriented organization of the book, and the flexibility of the method overall, allowing them to include their own favorite exercises and examples with a revitalized understanding of their content and purpose.

Every tenor, voice teacher, and coach should own Training Tenor Voices. Miller deserves admiration and gratitude for offering voice professionals this comprehensive, coherent manual, which facilitates a once daunting, inexact facet of vocal pedagogy.

RONALD F. LAND Temple University
COPYRIGHT 1994 Music Library Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1994 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Land, Ronald F.
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1994
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