Descriptive vs Prescriptive Teaching

We had a workshop yesterday, and one of the participants commented on how they had once been told by a singing teacher to “put the sound in *THIS* cavity” accompanied with a finger pointing to somewhere in the head. The main reason he brought this up was because of how unclear and confusing that language was, so I thought it was worth talking about descriptive vs prescriptive teaching.

Descriptive Singing Instructions

If you’ve ever had a singing lesson, or looked online for singing videos, there’s no way you’ll have escaped the weirdness of such instructions. “Put it in the masque”, “make it brighter”, “the sound should open downwards not outwards”, “sing from the diaphragm”, “don’t sing from the throat”, “gain strength from your knees”, and other such gems. At least one of these statements I’d even agree with, in the sense that I also feel this when I sing, so they’re not “wrong” per se, they’re just not helpful. Continue reading “Descriptive vs Prescriptive Teaching”

Vocal Pedagogy: Why we need to look to the past to progress into the future

A great coach once said to me “to be a student of singing, you must be a student of the HISTORY of singing”.

At first hearing of this, I was initially dismissive to some extent – why does it matter what people 20, 50, 100+ years ago were doing? What does that even mean and why is the history of singing relevant to me and my voice? But pause for a second, and think more like a scientist, and you’ll begin to understand. Continue reading “Vocal Pedagogy: Why we need to look to the past to progress into the future”

Style Exploration: Expansion and Contraction

I was having a chat with a local artist recently about developing vocal style and development of artistry. One of the topics that came up was about learning new things and expanding one’s palette of available musical ideas, genres, musical phrasing etc. The whole point of doing so is to expand and grow one’s musical vocabulary and knowledge, to understand more of the nuances to the musical landscape than we did previously. Continue reading “Style Exploration: Expansion and Contraction”

Style vs Hyper-style

I get a lot of emails and messages from people asking me “what do you think of this person”, usually with an attached video/link. One of the things I see a lot of is younger guys/girls doing YouTube covers of modern pop songs, or maybe original songs, but performed in a way that is highly reminiscent of a current pop singer. And here is what I’ve noticed, especially in relation to technique and vocal style… Continue reading “Style vs Hyper-style”

Do I have to sing in chest voice?

“I was wondering whether I HAVE to sing in chest voice? I feel like when it’s only chest voice it’s a bit monotone and lacking variation”

Great question from a student this week. Just for a bit of context, this singer sings regularly doing a number of covers as well as working their originals. It’s also important to note they are relatively early on in their vocal development. Continue reading “Do I have to sing in chest voice?”