Welcome to Diction For Singers!

Diction For Singers, 2nd Ed

Independent Dissertation on Texts for Teaching Diction




When teaching undergraduate diction, you usually have to cover at least English, Italian, German, and French—all within just one year. What is the best possible support to help you? 

IPA for SingersDiction for Singersand the Online Listening Labs offer you an integrated, multimedia platform for approaching all languages—and what they learn form you becomes an easy-to-use reference long after class. 

For an unbiased view from diction professors, we highly recommend reading Mahoney's  doctoral dissertation interviewing professors on specific texts for teaching diction.  Though a few years old, the challenges of teaching diction remain.


There are many helpful tables throughout the study. For instance, here is a table of comments from professors about our book ("Wall book" refers to Diction for Singers; "Wall/IPA" refers to IPA for Singers. The table starts on page 104 of the study.)



Table 3.50: Results for: What do you like about the Wall book? 


Number of Respondents Answers
18 Easy to use and reference
17 The way the material is organized
16 Clear rules
13 All languages in one book
12 Concise
11 Uses charts
8 Good introduction to diction for the undergrad
6 Not costly
5 Examples along with page reference
5 Singer’s text word examples
5 Very complete information
5 The detailed section on each letter
3 Use of IPA
3 Easy reading and comprehension
3 The manner in which it is simplified
3 Good overview of each language
2 Good to keep on the shelf as a reference
2 Pronunciation guidelines seem to reflect contemporary practice
2 Possible to cover this much material in such a short period of time
2 Correlates well with Coffin
1 Offers additional musical examples
1 End of chapter compilation of sounds
1 Helps student focus and work independently
1 Usable after class is over
1 Sound explanation of principles
1 Standardized tests
1 Easy to obtain
1 The guide at the beginning of each chapter
1 The workbook
Total: 150  



We also found this table especially interesting. (We’ve included only comments relevant to Diction for Singers, which include both the positive reasons professors switched to it, or the negative reasons they switched away from their previous texts to it. The table starts on page 135 of the study.)



Table 3.77: Comments for Question 45: Why did you switch?

Blankenberg: ineffective and error-ridden. (1 comment)
Colorni: preferred Wall’s overall take. (1 comment)
Too detailed for our level (Cox). (1 comment)
Grubb too detailed for undergraduate level. (1 comment)
Moriarty inconsistent, more expensive, sometimes not detailed enough. (1 comment)
Moriarty was hard to get, I think its Italian is too “pat”. (1 comment)
The German and French sections in Moriarty have a very confusing layout for the students. (1 comment)
Too many errors in Moriarty’s book. (1 comment)
Odom too detailed for undergraduate level. (1 comment)
Too hard to follow. Not outlined well (Odom, Bernac). (1 comment)
I teach beginners. Stapp was good, but didn’t provide enough information for beginners. (1 comment)
Wall: my homework and quizzes are based on her text and I don’t want to take the time to change. (1 comment)
Liked Wall book better. (1 comment)
The Wall has Spanish. (1 comment)
The Wall is more current in its approach. (1 comment)
The Wall seemed easier to reference. (1 comment)
Wall book currently in use here when I came. (1 comment)
Wall book was newly out and seemed an improvement because of it being comprehensive, easy to use, good reference. (1 comment)
Wall: like having the languages combined in one book. (1 comment)
Wall is a good choice in all languages. (1 comment)
Wall is better. (1 comment)
Wall is cheaper for students because all info in one book. (1 comment)
Wall is more consistent than Moriarty in layout. (1 comment)
Wall’s book is the only one that fit the time constraints. (1 comment)
Wall: concise material in one book. (1 comment)
Wall: this one is clearer. (1 comment)
Wall: This seemed to be the most thorough and easily understood text. (1 comment)
All three languages in one volume (Wall). (1 comment)
Better teaching in Wall as compared to Moriarty. (1 comment)
Wanted all information in one book (Wall). (1 comment)
I use one book for IPA (Wall/IPA) and one for French, German, Italian, Spanish and Latin (Wall). (1 comment)
Cost. (1 comment)
Easier for students to follow. (1 comment)
Easy to use format. (1 comment)
Experience. (1 comment)
Good charts. (1 comment)
Have not switched. Only supplemented with other resources. (1 comment)
Helps students with costs. (1 comment)
I agree with it more. (1 comment)
I was hired at a different university and they had ordered texts prior to my accepting the position. (1 comment)
I was tired of the old text. (1 comment)
I’m retiring in four years. I’ve considered new texts, but frankly I’m satisfied with the Wall. (1 comment)
Includes workbook. (1 comment)
Moved to school with 2 semesters of diction instead of 4. Students cannot afford so many books. (1 comment)
Needed more comprehensive introduction to languages since time is short. (1 comment)
Needed more exercises in a graded order. (1 comment)
New job location. (1 comment)
No continuity. (1 comment)
One text for full year is less expensive. (1 comment)
Organization (1 comment)
Other book out of print and had a few inaccuracies. (1 comment)
Overly pedantic. (1 comment)
Preference. (1 comment)
Progression of presentation and clarity. (1 comment)
Too expensive for students. (1 comment)
Too hard or detailed for beginners. (1 comment)
Teaching at a new school. (1 comment)
The amount of material covered suited our schedule better and it is just one book. (1 comment)
To improve. (1 comment)
Too difficult for undergraduate to follow. (1 comment)


From the interview section of the study, we also found this table interesting. (Again, we’ve included only comments that relate to Wall’s Diction for Singers. The table starts on page 168.)


Table 4.14: Comments for Question 9: Why did you choose those texts?


Wall: Resembles closely how I teach. (J. Blizzard)
Wall: It is the book they use in the first semester. I teach the second semester: French and German. Has guidelines and rules. Helpful in dealing with the rules for open and closed E and O in Italian. Pretty succinct. (Colleen Davis)
Wall: Liked the formatting of it. Very clear visually. Easy to locate material. Cost effective. (Jean Del Santo)
Wall: Very clearly laid out. Easy to use. (Diane Penning-Koperslei)
Wall: I use this text because all of the languages are in one book. (Lynnette Chambers)
Wall: It really is cost effective for the student because it contains six languages in one book. It’s also a textbook I have used it for a number of years. (Jennifer Luiken)
Wall: For an undergraduate, I think that it gives the rules in the most concise manner that I have found. It serves a simplicity in terms of quickly understanding, because when you are dealing with five languages in the course each semester, it has to go by quickly. So that’s why I chose the book. (Patrick Newell)

Throughout the 419-page study, Mahaney offers the same battery of questions to the participants, obtaining a rich set of responses by the different professors on their favorite textbooks. Here are further comments from the interview section relevant to Wall’s Diction for Singers. (Starting on page 177 of the study).



Rebecca Lister
Regarding the Wall text:


RL: Well, again, since I am doing all of those languages, that one has all of them in
there. And Moriarty does, too. The problem with Moriarty is that I don’t like the way
it’s set up visually. To me it’s confusing. I am familiar with it is because I used it in my
graduate courses. But I also realize that if you aren’t familiar with it, looking at that and
trying to find things in it, is not easy. And so the Wall to me is a little bit easier to find
things, because first of all, she gives you that chart at the beginning of every chapter.
Very, very clear outline of all the signs and symbols and everything. And then she goes
through very carefully each letter of the alphabet. And to me, that is so much easier
because then you say okay, I have got a spelling of E here, and so you go to E and you
find it. So I think it’s easier to find things in the Wall. That’s probably the main reason.
And again just the fact that it’s really cheap. All those languages for a very reasonable
price. That’s the main reason why I chose it.

Nancy King
Regarding the Wall text:

NK: Well, I think my initial reaction when I buy the text was it’s got everything in
there, English, Italian, Latin, German, French and Spanish. It’s one book, and it will
take the students through their undergraduate career. I am also sensitive to the issues of finances and the ability for the student to find the information in one place. So there were a couple of other things going on when I chose this. Aside from that, it’s quite a
good textbook.

CM: Anything else you want to say about that?

\NK: This one is pretty easy to negotiate. Some of the other ones are daunting. The ones that I use for secondary references, that I would use in my graduate studies, I don’t think are necessarily appropriate for an undergraduate, or the time constraint.

CM: That’s exactly what I am trying to find out here. Because I do want to focus on
undergraduate diction courses for French, Italian and German primarily.

Natalie Lerch
Regarding Wall and Wall/IPA:

NL: Well, the workbook (Wall/IPA). I chose the purple one (Wall) because it has all
the Italian, German, and French, and arts students are poor these days! You have the
charts, and you can teach them to understand the stress, as well as the syllabication. It
also has Latin and Spanish, which they sometimes are going to need as well.

Patrick Newell
Regarding the Wall text:

PN: Joan Wall? I think it’s pretty accessible. I haven’t had many students who look at
the text and get bewildered. I have found that for about half of the class, if I just turn
them loose on a chapter, they get kind of lost. But if I sit down and say, this is how the
book is set up, this is how you use it. You have a chart of sounds, you have the
explanation, and then they go into more detail, that seems to make a lot more sense to
them. So I think once they get the hang of the book, which usually happens by the
second or third week of classes, it seems to be pretty accessible. I think it is more
accessible than the Moriarty book, which I have used in the past.

CM: Just a question about that. When you used the Moriarty book in the past, was it
confusing for the students, or what was the problem would you say?

PN: The problem was mostly confusion for me. And then that probably played over to
the students as well. It didn’t seem to be laid out in a logical fashion for me as the Joan
Wall book is. And the Moriarty was the one that I used for my undergraduate as well.
And then to go on and teach with it, it just still didn’t make sense to me. I do use it to
help beef up my lectures or to go back and find another way to explain something, or
find example words. But I think the Joan Wall book has it over in terms of organization
and being concise.

CM: I know the Joan Wall book is supposed to have what’s called a teacher’s pack.

PN: I used that my first year that I taught diction. As a first-year teacher, it was really
helpful in terms of setting up lectures and having some ideas to use. But most
importantly it was very useful for organizing exams and coming up with quiz questions
and things like that. It can be a really good resource.

The dissertation goes far more in-depth in analyzing the pros and cons for the texts and resources available for teaching diction, a valuable read for anyone teaching the course.

Call us for more information about adopting Diction for Singers and IPA for Singers, or using the Online Listening Labs. We would be happy to set you up with an online account to test the labs.

Best Regards,

Vickie Miller
Customer Service
Diction for Singers. com