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Ten Things Real Singers Understand

Ten Things Real Singers Understand

by Dr. Meribeth 1. How to stay grounded 2. Communicating with the audience is essential   3. Distorted faces are only useful for very strange characters   4. Practicing and learning are actually fun 5. Appropriate gesture is part of the story 6. Lip syncing is not for real singers 7 Excessive physicality does not prove you are emotionally involved in the song 8. Drinking or eating the microphone is not necessary   9. Ten year olds can imitate any singer, so what! 10. Being yourself is completely compelling  ...
Thoughts on Current Vocal Pedagogy: There seems to be a lot of old dust

Thoughts on Current Vocal Pedagogy: There seems to be a lot of old dust

by Meribeth Dayme I have been an avid student of singing and vocal pedagogy from the time I entered college. In fact, it was my personal project to read every book on voice in my college library—and I did. It became obvious very early in my pedagogical meanderings that the voice world, even from its earliest days of information, rarely agreed on what something meant. There were simply too many interpretations of how something felt. After all, singing is certainly a vibratory sensation. As we know, how to verbally describe sensation still escapes us—sensation and verbalizing belong to two different parts of us. But the part that wants to put it into words continues to try to do it. This plagues us to this day. There are countless books and articles that continue to try to explain feeling, and it creates yet more controversy. Cleverly, we have turned to science to prove what we are sensing when we sing. So now we have lots of graphs, acoustic formulas, and many discussions of the “technical” aspects of singing. We can retune the voice, show formants, and offer lots of interesting, fun ways to “see” a voice. Yet we still can’t describe the feeling. We doggedly stick to researching and trying to prove the traditional perceptions of vocal technique, which lead us into ever deeper circles and ruts. This is then promoted in the literature and courses as “scientific” truth and fed to students in vocal pedagogy courses who then teach it to their pupils. (This very limited view of science is also outdated by today’s standards in sports medicine, biology and...
Back to the future 1: creating new paradigms from the old

Back to the future 1: creating new paradigms from the old

We are standing on the edge of unlimited possibilities for music and singing. There is a new sense of adventure and creativity entering the scene. We are in an age of change and we must be aware and open to it. To some it probably seems like confusing chaos and a threat to the status quo. It is a threat to the status quo! What can we do to be a positive part of the change and at the same time stay centered, and learn to dance and play with the times? Part 1. Where have we been? What has brought us to our current stage? 1. We are moving from a singing teaching system of very private, limited and limiting local traditions and oral tradition/ hand-me-down information of over 400 years to a very different picture where information about singing and music is available immediately and globally. Vocal performance is changing because our exposure to singing has become global and offers us so many possibilities. The old classical system of teaching gave us some wonderful singers for their time. It also gave us some ideas that became more and more fixed and and at the same time distorted as the hand-me-down information continued—much like the game of “gossip” where original information becomes distorted as it moves from person to person. This resulted in teaching that was highly reliant on what was thought to be the way to train voices for the music of the time—such as church and opera. Whole methods evolved based on perceptions of what was taught before we had adequate records and information. You could...
Back to the future 2 – Where are we now?

Back to the future 2 – Where are we now?

  There Is Unprecedented Interest In Singing. Singing is blossoming around the world. The numbers of programmes featuring singing have exploded and hundreds of thousands of young singers are auditioning for their moment of fame. Internet sites like YouTube have encouraged anyone and everyone to contribute. New stars have been born over the Internet and not through the usual channels. Teachers are finding their studios full, even in times of austerity. It seems that many, many people of all ages want to sing. Teachers regularly tell me that they get requests for lessons from every age from 5 to 85. Musical and vocal tastes are changing as our ears, eyes and other senses become global—not local or national anymore. Global access to information means that we can hear any kind of music from the far corners of the planet. The Internet and television truly have made us “one world”, especially where music is concerned. The singers and future singers of today are exposed to all these new musical experiences on a regular basis. Singers of the current generation are not comfortable or patient with the old traditions of singing and learning. Not only are the singers searching for new horizons, teachers also must find new, creative, authentic ways of meeting the needs of this generation and their music. To that end, there are numbers of new vocal pedagogies being developed for different styles and genres of singing. There is a new sense of adventure in singing. Teachers are beginning to look outside of the box for bringing new elements into teaching. Interest in the science of voice is continuing...
Back to the future 3: Where do we go from here?

Back to the future 3: Where do we go from here?

How do we take the teaching of singing forward this century and into the next? Which of the current trends will influence teaching and singing? Here are a few thoughts: The hugely popular self-development movement has been gathering momentum for the last fifty years. Teachers of singing, in general, are just beginning to find ways to bring this into their own teaching. As a profession, they have tended to rely more on past teachings, often following a preprescribed pattern of those they perceive to be knowledgeable. They err on the side of the cautious rather than having the confidence to push the boundaries as much as they might. As more and more teachers become personally involved in their own development, they are discovering that it is related to singing as well as life. This is creating a new confidence in which there is more willingness to explore, experiment and enhance the teaching of singing. Large areas of self-development have come from ancient Eastern concepts and philosophies that are now globally accessible. The “old” has become ”new”. What are we gaining from exploring these concepts? The Eastern qualities gained from studying Qigong and Taichi are a sense of flow, the awareness of the life force and a new way of being balanced and grounded for singing. Emphasis on being grounded, flow of energy and the variety of techniques to achieve it will give singers new sense of strength, a more authentic sound and a quiet confidence. It is fascinating that many of our “sacred cows”, including posture and breathing, in teaching singing actually interfere with flow of energy making everyone...

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