Private lessons of either half an hour or an hour are available to individual students at my home studio. During the early stages of development, my teaching style focuses on building healthy vocal production, including posture, respiration, phonation, support (appoggio), resonation, registration, articulation, and relaxation. In later stages of development - with more emphasis being placed on style and languages - students will be encouraged to work on elements of expression and interpretation and, if desired, to perform in master classes and music festivals.
Vocal workshops are available for community choirs, church choirs, music teachers, and people who use their voice to make a living. Most often these workshops last for two hours and introduce the basics of vocal technique - posture, respiration, phonation, support (appoggio), registration, resonation, articulation, and relaxation - in a warm, friendly, and relaxed environment. Workshops are experientially-based, moving between processes of demonstration and participation. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
Courses in vocal physiology are available to those interested in how human anatomy and physiology are related to vocal function. Courses come in two forms. The first is a two-hour introductory course where vocal systems are explained using a PowerPoint presentation; the second is a ten-week course in which vocal processes are described, analyzed, discussed, demonstrated, and experienced using PowerPoint slides, selected readings, worksheets, and specific vocal exercises.
Having participated in a cross section of teaching situations, I have seen vocal students come not only with varying musical and life experiences, but also with different abilities and intentions. My role as the teacher is to take all of these factors into account, and to guide and support the vocal development of my students as they prepare to meet the challenges of learning to sing. This has led me to adopt a multi-faceted teaching philosophy founded on diagnostic, preventative, holistic, and musical principles. From a diagnostic point of view, a student’s vocal production is assessed in terms of what Barbara Doscher describes as the 'functional unity of the voice'. Vocal processes are broken down and introduced as a series of building blocks (or events) which encourages the student to explore how the voice works as a complex whole. By helping students to recognize vocal and/or physical tensions which may be restricting or preventing their instrument from functioning naturally, students have the ability to acquire the skills necessary for proper vocal technique. Sometimes this involves a process of ‘undoing’, leading the voice towards its own economy of function. As the proper musculature is assessed, strengthened, and employed, each problem is addressed in a variety of ways. While this taps into the student’s particular way of learning, it also helps identify and correct individual vocal weaknesses. Gaining an understanding of the voice can also enable students to protect their instrument while away from the teacher’s studio. By providing students with a foundation of the interrelationships that exist between human physiology and the physics of sound, students learn preventative measures - to self-diagnose and correct vocal faults -to avoid over-singing and other forms of habitual vocal abuse. I apply a holistic approach to vocal studies because the singer’s ‘body’ is their instrument. Affected by things such as stress, fatigue, and emotions, the body can react negatively and leave students feeling vulnerable in performance. While students learn to recognize the emotional and physical signs of vocal distress, they also develop skills to reverse these processes. By placing focus on the student’s self-understanding, students will develop a sense of confidence and adventure as their personal, artistic, and professional objectives are fostered and nurtured. Musically, students will be exposed to a variety of styles and languages. Emphasis will be placed on applying fundamental vocal technique to repertoire, examining the 'functional' relationship between pronunciation and the vocal articulators. Repertoire is chosen collaboratively to reflect their artistic personality or to broaden the student’s knowledge of vocal literature. Students will be encouraged to choose wisely not only for future roles, but also for their voice type, temperament, and desired lifestyle.