I recently had two local voice teachers ask me how I became comfortable teaching contemporary vocal techniques like belting. In both cases, the teachers had heard several singers make noticeable improvements after taking voice lessons from me.
Like many voice teachers working today, I studied classical voice in college and my pedagogy training focused entirely on classical vocal technique. To make up for those limitations, I have spent the last 10 years attempting to educate myself about contemporary singing. I would like to share some of the resources that I have found most helpful.
A NYC-based voice teacher, Mary has been teaching contemporary musical theater vocal technique for several decades. She recently retired from Penn State University, where she was head of voice for the BFA program in Musical Theatre and program head for the MFA in Voice Pedagogy for Musical Theatre. Mary teaches privately in NYC and leads workshops throughout the United States. Her two instructional DVDs – Bel Canto Can Belto: Teaching Women to Sing Musical Theatre and What About the Boys: Teaching Men to Sing Musical Theatre – are a wonderful introduction to her work. They are available at www.belcantocanbelto.com.
Matthew Edwards / Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) Vocal Pedagogy Institute
A leading teacher of commercial and musical theatre voice, Matt Edwards is artistic director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute and associate professor and coordinator of Musical Theatre Voice at Shenandoah University. The CCM Institute offers summer training programs in teaching and singing commercial and musical theatre styles. The program is divided into three sessions, each of which takes place over three days:
- Session 1: Respiration and Phonation for CCM Singers
- Session 2: Resonance and Articulation for CCM Singers
- Session 3: CCM Styles and Performance Practice
Jo Estill was an American voice teacher and voice researcher whose Estill Voice Training attempts to distill and organize vocal concepts into thirteen “Figures for Voice Control” and six “Voice Qualities.” The system is complex with a strong emphasis on vocal anatomy and physiology. It is used by voice teachers and by speech and language pathologists who specialize in voice therapy. The Figures are essentially anatomical elements that affect vocal tone. They are combined into various “Voice Qualities,” vocal sounds which can be found in musical styles ranging from opera to pop or rock.
In its most basic form, Estill Voice Training is taught over five days as “Level 1 (Figures for Voice Control)” and “Level 2 (Figure Combinations for Six Voice Qualities).” More info is at www.estillvoice.com.
The most prominent proponent of Estill Voice Training is Broadway voice teacher Joan Lader. In 2016, Joan – whose students include Patti LuPone, Kristen Chenoweth, and Sutton Foster – received a special Tony Award for her work as a voice teacher and voice therapist.