Vocal Focus: Sight-Reading and Vocalise Books

While my teaching adventures in the private lesson world focus mainly on clarinet and piano, I have begun including voice lessons due to high demand for them withing the studio. (I also have a saxophone student!) In an effort to be a better voice teacher I purchased a book entitled The Private Voice Studio Handbook: A Practical Guide to All Aspects of Teaching by Joan Frey Boytim (purchase on Amazon). She writes the book as though she is responding to the questions of a beginning voice teacher who comes from a trained vocal background but may not know how to run a private voice studio on his/her own. This seemed to be a good place to start, as I have about 10 years of choral experience (large and small ensembles), formal vocal training at a collegiate level, and have taken various classes on music theatre, diction, recital training, etc. Teaching music comes fairly naturally to me (I was often helping out classmates in school), but working with a person’s voice is entirely different because every voice is different, and working with children is especially tricky because young voices can be easily damaged by improper training. So this book will be a wonderful help to me!

There is a chapter in this book on what are known as “vocalises”; a vocalise (“vocal-ease”) is essentially a warm-up, designed to strengthen the voice, promote flexibility and help a student to remember pitches and intervals, etc. It promotes “muscle memory”, strengthening the larynx (your vocal muscle) in ways it may not have been used before. I looked up two of the books she recommended, so I could order them, and I found them for free! I plan to buy the books eventually, but for some beginning students all I need is a few pages to get them started.

The School of Sight-Singing, by G. Concone is the recommended book for beginners, according to Boytim. In her review she says that it teaches key, time signatures, and movable do syllables. She suggests writing the first letter of the solfeggio syllables above the notes, or having the student do so, and says that the average teenager takes close to one and a half years to complete the book.

The Complete Vocal Method by Marchesi (published by G. Schirmer) is what Boytim recommends for girls after completing the Concone book. It is more difficult and complex than the beginning method, but includes agility exercises as well as vocalises.

About Lady Fair

Lady is a musician with a bachelor's degree in music education. She plays multiple instruments and has participated in numerous musical ensembles, giving her a wide variety of experiences and knowledge to use in her teaching career. Of her ensemble participation, she has fifteen years of band experience, nine years choral, and four years in orchestra. Éowyn's primary instrument is clarinet, with voice and piano being close secondary instruments. Throughout her musical education career she studied voice and clarinet simultaneously. In addition to clarinet, piano, and voice, she has also studied violin and oboe at the college level, and also plays recorder, tin whistle, and other instruments in the woodwind family. If you ask her, she will say, "I chose to major in music education because I have a desire to use my knowledge and experience in music to share its beauty and foster a love of music in the hearts of my students. I hope to encourage my students to try their hardest, feel like they have accomplished something, and give them a life long passion for music." Lady currently teaches private lessons on clarinet, sax, flute, oboe, piano, and voice, and recently gained a position teaching orchestra and chorus at a local middle school. She is also a member of the Once Upon a Dream woodwind ensembles.
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