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'City Lit' – Fundamentals of the Singing Voice
British Voice Association event report – Christian Fellner
This has been the most excellent course and it is hard to think of an aspect of the singing voice that has not emerged over the last ten weeks. The range of subjects covered was diverse and the course was structured in a way by which the more challenging of these were well balanced by those that were more immediately accessible. The lecturers invited to speak all displayed very distinct personalities and qualities and each session has been exciting and stimulating.
Limiting the number of students to a small group of around twelve contributed significantly to the quality and enjoyment of the sessions by giving us all a chance to actively interact. Having access to those at the top of their various professions was an immensely valuable part of the course. It was also very good to be in a group where the members represented an interesting mix of classical, music theatre and jazz styles, coming from different musical backgrounds with varying levels of experience and at different stages of development.
Janice Chapman's master class, at a midway point in the course, was excellently placed and provided a welcome break from theory as well as an opportunity to hear each other sing. I am sure I was not the only student to have spent the first four sessions wondering about how the others sang and what they were doing! It was refreshing to have a practical session and the chance to apply some of the ideas that had been discussed in the previous sessions.
On a more personal note, I first became involved with the multi-disciplinary movement in teaching singing three years ago. I was suffering from some speech impediments and a huge lack of confidence but had the good luck of meeting someone who immediately picked up on these as well as many other points and sent me off to see a speech therapist. At the time I was completely unaware of the connection between speech and singing. A whole new world of voice opened up and I felt very excited and reassured by the fact that there were many more possibilities of help and support available to me than I would dared to have imagined.I worked with a singing teacher, coach, osteopath and movement teacher and realized that in order to teach responsibly then I needed to take the multi-disciplinary route. I already had a few singing students whom I taught to the best of my abilities but often came up against technical problems of which I could sometimes show a way through by demonstrating, but not really explain effectively.
This has all changed! As a result of being on the course I have been able to deepen my knowledge and apply some of it immediately to my own teaching practice and singing. The more difficult subjects covered, such as vocal acoustics as well as some of the terminology, while not the easiest of topics to grasp, were imparted clearly and sympathetically. Combined with the handouts, which were of a very high quality throughout the course, I now have a vast amount of concrete information that I can add to under my own steam. The course has been a springboard for several new ideas one of which is that I have started working on developing my own teaching model. I have also got my act together at last and joined the BVA!
I think this course plays a vital role in providing an awareness of the depth of knowledge and learning required and expected of us today as voice teachers. As I am beginning to work with professional students, having access to a course such as this is tremendously important. It has been hugely enjoyable and I feel very privileged to have been among the first group of students taking part on it. Thank you!
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