Breakthroughs in Singing
A Comprehensive Study on the Phenomenon of the Vocal Breakthrough
Voice students and instructors at the Desautels Faculty of Music described their experiences with breakthroughs in singing. Results were illuminating. They reveal much about the learning process in singing, about struggle and breakthrough, and about practicing in general. The study puts these results in the context of research on vocal pedagogy, performance psychology, motor learning, insight research, and neuroscience.
Analysis of the varied experiences reported by students and teachers reveals that breakthroughs are a functional part of vocal learning, athough not all students identify with the term ‘breakthrough’, and likewise, not all teachers embrace the term. Nonetheless there are good reasons for this, as can be seen in the vocal literature and the data itself.
“What is a breakthrough?”
‘Breakthroughs’ were defined and understood as a new awareness of vocal freedom, and the arrival of a new capability that had not been previously experienced. Further, breakthroughs come after a period of frustration and strain, where the singer is seeking change. There is an accompanying element of surprise because the new capability seems to come unbidden and brings noticeable ease. Breakthroughs are an indicator of the voice’s real nature and identity because they point to potential. They are not a destination or goal in themselves, but rather a signpost toward that goal.
How does a breakthrough feel?…, p. 2
Are breakthroughs only momentary? … to, p. 4
Does the vocal literature mention breakthroughs?
BreakthroughFinalPaper2 p. 6
What is the nature of a vocal breakthrough? ..p. 17
What if you don’t have any breakthroughs? ..p. 20
How does vocal change take place? p. 45 and p. 52
What contributes to breakthroughs? p. 26
What does the vocal literature say about what causes breakthroughs? p. 29
How does my mental focus affect my singing? p.30
What is the role of conscious attention? p. 49
How can I avoid overthinking everything? p. 55
Why do I sing better in my practice time than in performance? (p. 61)
How was this breakthrough study designed? ..p.8
What is phenomenology? …p.8
The author would like to thank Marcel A. Desautels for the research funds to make the study on vocal breakthroughs possible, Edmund Dawe, Dean of the Desautels Faculty of Music for his skills in fostering a collegial and productive work environment, Professor Mel Braun, Head of the Vocal Department for his leadership and help, and her other wonderful colleagues and students of the Desautels Faculty of Music for their valuable contributions to the study, Professor Jane Ginsborg, Associate Dean of Research and Enterprise at the Royal Northern College of Music for facilitating the focus group and for assisting with the study design, and to AIRS for the productive academic and personal synergies that encouraged the launching of this study.