Welcome to Diction For Singers!

The Singer's Voice: Vocal Folds The Singer's Voice: Resonance

Overview of Vocal Pedagogy Multimedia Platform



James Beard, the famous American chef and pedagogue, wrote a remarkable book called The Theory and Practice of Good Cooking. He aims to help readers master their time in the kitchen, and so breaks down kitchen activity into nine processes—boiling, roasting, broiling and grilling, braising, sautéing, frying, baking, thickeners and liaisons, and non-cooking—a comprehensive set. Wall and Caldwell, authors of the vocal pedagogy multimedia platform, also break down singing activity into nine processes, those listed above in the chart.

For each process, Beard first writes an essay—concepts related to the whole process of sautéing, for instance—the theory—and then follows the essay with a wide range of specific recipes—the practice. The broad, informative ideas in the essays enrich the step-by-step recipes, which are numerous and varied enough to flesh out the ideas, a comprehensiveness that leads the reader to a sense of mastery in the kitchen.

Wall and Caldwell follow this two-part theory and practice for their vocal pedagogy materials—essays followed by step-by-step exercises, descriptions of vocal functions followed by pragmatic applications, wisdom from our rich, pedagogical history followed by hands-on practice. They might have even called their works the theory and practice of good singing. 

This pattern frees you to teach a wide variety of vocal pedagogy students: While integrated, each section stands alone, allowing you to mix and match sections to create a curriculum that suits your needs, from teaching undergraduates to professionals.

The theory is expressed through hours of animation, MRIs, cineflouroscopy, and fiber optic video (six films), 146 essays (from six texts), and (soon) interactive online applications; the practice draws from over 500 exercises—a comprehensive set covering virtually all aspects of singing. You can feel assured knowing you can cover virtually any topic in voice that comes up with the same ease of any other topic, not only with ideas, but with the same format for a wide range of exercises. 

Why multimedia?

You can preview a sample chapter to see this essay-with-exercises pattern and preview clips from the animations.  

sample chapter 8 “Breath” from Mastering the Fundamentals
sample clip of “sound at the vocal folds” from the film The Human Voice
sample clip of “formants” from the film The Human Voice

And you can see how these fit into the overall organization of the platform, and see why our professors love the thoroughness with ease in getting through all issues. 

organization of the multimedia platform

And you can read reviews from your colleagues: collectively, coming from such a wide range of singing professionals, from professors to voice scientists to opera stars, they paint a similar picture the material: they love the genuine support for training great teachers of rich and expressive singing in their studios through knowledge and commitment.  

reviews from across the multimedia platform

As an example of how you would mix and match the materials, consider the topic of breath. 

1. Assign the movie The Singer’s Voice: Breath.

sample clip from the film Breath

2. Assign the essay on pages 157-166 from Beginning the Process, which elaborates on the film. 

Discuss the passivity of the lungs, and how air flows in because of vacuum created by an expanded chest cavity. 

Discuss what this means in terms of the sensations of breathing. 

Discuss the muscles that expand the chest cavity: diaphragm, external intercostals, and the abdominals.

Discuss the viscera and the sensations of breathing.

Discuss muscle antagonism between the intercostals and abdominals, and between the diaphragm and abdominals for smooth and steady breath support.


3. Assign the essay “Teaching and Learning Flexible Breath” on pages 45-54 from Chapter 8 in Mastering the Fundamentals. (See link above).

Discuss the ideals of good breathing for singing.

Discuss the four phases of the breathing cycle: inhalation, suspension, exhalation, and recovery—the places where problems can occur.

Discuss terminology and sensations of breathing.

Discuss problems that commonly occur. 


4. Assign the breath exercises on pages 55-106 from Chapter 8 in Mastering the Fundamentals. (See link above). 

Discuss discovery exercises. 

Discuss using familiar experiences to guide students to requisite sensations.

Have your students prepare a list of what they can do to get their students’ breath to become active for singing (to warm up the breath) and demonstrate one of the exercises.

Discuss exercises for the four phases of the breathing cycle: inhalation, suspension, exhalation, and recovery. 


5. Have students pick two exercises from each group to teach in a practicum. 

Assign chapter “Flexibility in noticing and responding” (pages 53-74) and the accompanying exercises. 

Discuss what your student noticed in her student’s breath and how your student responded with the selected breath exercise. 

Discuss the notice and respond cycles of the selected exercises. 

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