FAQ

General Pedagogy Questions

When should I rest my voice?

Rest when you first sense that you are losing mental coordination in your practice, or when you feel any hint of fatigue.

Singers benefit from rest so that their muscles can recover from the fluid and energy depletion that occurs during exercise. During rest periods, the muscles involved in singing are nourished with fresh supplies, and built up through the natural processes common to all athletic activity. Short breaks–even a few bars of rest in a song–can be somewhat restorative for a singer, and much longer breaks from singing can result in a significant increase in vocal well being.

Other evidence suggests that silent practice can be helpful. In her article (below) Lynn Helding describes how practicing can be effective even when the voice is under the weather due to fatigue or illness, calling it “The No-Practice Practice Routine”.

Helding, Lynn. “The Mind’s Mirrors.” Journal of Singing – the Official Journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing 66, no. 5 (05, 2010): 585-589.


What does recent research say about practicing?

Ali, Susan. “Understanding our Students’ Self-Regulation during Practice: Verbal Protocol as a       Tool.” Journal of Singing – the Official Journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing 66, no. 5 (05, 2010): 529-536.

Provides information on self-regulated practice and mindful practice, and a self-monitoring process called the ‘verbal protocol’, a process of thinking aloud while practicing.

Bergan, Christins. “Motor Learning Principles and Voice Pedagogy: Theory and Practice.” Journal of Singing – the Official Journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing 66, no. 4 (Mar 2010): 457-468.

Explains concepts such as “blocked versus random” arrangement of vocal exercises, student reflection on previous lessons, frequency and spacing of practice sessions, approaches to giving feedback, and other helpful concepts supported by research.

Helding, Lynn. “The Mind’s Mirrors.” Journal of Singing – the Official Journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing 66, no. 5 (05, 2010): 585-589.

The No-Practice Practice Routine describes potential use of the Mirror Neuron System for singers and other performers who rely on their motor system, the ability of the MNS to keep charging even when the actual muscles are at rest due to fatigue or injury.

Rainero, Ruth. “Practicing Vocal Music Efficiently and Effectively: Applying “Deliberate Practice” to a New Piece of Music.” Journal of Singing – the Official Journal of the            National Association of Teachers of Singing 69, no. 2 (11, 2012): 203-214.

Verdolini, Katherine. “On the Voice: Learning Science Applied to Voice Training: The Value of being “in the Moment”.” Choral Journal 42, no. 7 (02, 2002): 47-51. This article discusses a concept called “variable practice” and describes how it is superior to “non-variable” practice.

Ingo R. Titze and Katherine Verdolini Abbott, Vocology: The Science and Practice of Voice Habilitation (Salt Lake City, UT: National Center for Voice and Speech, 2012).

Chapter 7 in particular provides helpful advice about practice.


As a teacher, what should I know about how to give feedback to students in lessons?

Maxfield, Lynn. “Improve Your Students’ Learning by Improving Your Feedback.” Journal of Singing – the Official Journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing 69, no. 4 (03, 2013): 471-478. This article discusses how much and what kind of information to give as feedback to students in their lessons, and how soon to provide it after each exercise attempt by the student.

Verdolini, Katherine. “On the Voice: Learning Science Applied to Voice Training: The Value of being “in the Moment”.” Choral Journal 42, no. 7 (02, 2002): 47-51. Teachers want their students to feel encouraged. Surprisingly, Verdolini shows that less effusive feedback produces better long term results because it requires the student to do more mental work during lessons.

Harald Jørgensen (2000). Student learning in higher instrumental education: who is responsible? British Journal of Music Education, 17, pp 67-77 This article summarizes the views of students and teachers regarding initiative in music studies, particularly with regard to the ideal balance of responsibility between student and teacher.

 

 

More FAQ

1. What is an ‘Aha!’ moment?

2. How does it feel to find your authentic voice? “I feel like I’m me now”

3. What are the stages of vocal progress?

4. How can “letting go” make a difference?. More info here.

5. What does playfulness have to do with practice?

6. How can acting contribute to vocal technique? The Singer-Actor. More info here.

7. What kinds of things can spark a breakthrough?

8. Why, sometimes, does singing study seem like “one step forward, two steps back”?

9. How can team teaching help a singer?

10. How does motor learning & muscle memory affect vocal progress?

11. What is the role of attention in finding freedom in vocal performance?

12. How can imitation help you find your authentic voice?

13. How can making ugly sounds have a positive result in singing practice? More info here.

14. What does the ability to take risks have to do with vocal breakthroughs?

15. What about the Right Brain/Left Brain difference?

16. How does the learning environment make a difference in voice studies?

17. Why do I always ‘Choke’ when it matters most?