Pedagogical approach of CVT

Everyone learns differently. Some singers need to understand a problem logically and need technical details, such as anatomical functioning knowledge in order to solve or understand a vocal problem. Others might feel burdened by such information and more easily relate to body experience (kinesthetic experience), or auditive experience (learning via hearing, recognizing, and copying a sound). For others graphic illustrations or anything visual might be helpful, and yet others may find some imaginary tools helpful. It is easy to see how a variety of tools for all learning types is important.

To accommodate all learning types, CVT includes the following

  • Anatomical and physiological explanations
  • Physical instructions
  • Sound examples
  • Illustrations
  • Examples of inner images and sensations

CVT makes no judgement on how we learn and recognizes our individual learning styles. Different learning tools are are available as a path to convey information. Each singer is respected for their own way of learning. The singer is free to choose the tools that help most. Being able to learn from and study a variety of learning tools may however be helpful in understanding the voice and in gaining insights that are complementary and may offer a new perspective.

Here are some important CVT guidelines:

Know the anatomy of the body

Understanding and sensing anatomy or physiology is not a requirement for singers. It is offered as a tool to gain knowledge of what is happening in the body. Knowing what is happening in the body during singing can be an important step in understanding the singing process. Understanding the anatomy and physiology of the voice,  helps with with understanding vocal technique and the necessary building blocks. It can also help you distinguish between good and bad technique/advice, and various singing myths about ‘correct’ technique.

Locate the main problem

Part of my skill as a teacher is to help you identify and focus on the main problem because once that is corrected, many other problems may easily be resolved as well. In learning and solving problems, it is best to concentrate on one problem at a time.

Take responsibility for yourself

Take responsibility for our own development! My role as a teacher is to ASSIST you in YOUR development and process. Unless you engage with the teaching I offer and dive into the work yourself, I may not be able to effectively help you reach your goals.  You, the singer, has to actively participate in shaping your learning path along the way. Dismiss what does not work for you, ask questions, and become an explorer of your voice. As a teacher I will be a guiding resource and valuable feedback, but I can not MAKE you become the singer you wish to be.

Your input is valuable. Technique and practice are ways to learn what you want to be able to do. Always be your own judge and decide whether you are getting closer to your goals. My personal musical taste is irrelevant as a teacher.  I am here to help you achieve YOUR artistic singing goals — your desired way of singing— and to help you identify technical hinderances and unhealthy vocal habits by offer suggestions in how to remove them. At times, when appropriate and possibly helpful,  I may offer input about sound or style possibilities, but the singer always has a choice in his or her artistic direction.

If you practice correct technique you should see results and continuous improvement in your singing. Why take lessons for years if singing doesn’t get easier or you are not getting results.

How to practise

Practice with a  healthy voice!

Learn not to lose your voice. If you experience vocal hoarseness or loss, you have to stop working until your voice returns and is healthy because a “stressed” voice does not respond correctly and we only end up compensating for the vocal strain.  Only practicing and experimenting with a healthy voice will help you reach your artistic or technical goals.

Build correct muscle memory
Singing something over and over again will help your brain remember the action via ‘muscle memory’. After many repetitions, muscles eventually respond automatically. Therefore it is important that you are concentrated and avoid making too many errors while practicing. Easy exercises without mistakes are better than complicated exercises with many mistakes. Three errors in a row means the exercise is too difficult and you may be experiencing constrictions of the muscles in your throat. Such constrictions stop the voice from working freely and easily. If this is the case, make the exercise easier so you can accomplish the vocal task with the correct sound /‘feeling’ and work healthy routines into your ‘muscle memory’. Healthy and correct muscle memory builds ease of singing.

Trust yourself
Singing must never hurt or feel uncomfortable. If something does not sound right, if something feels wrong, or if it feels uncomfortable, your voice is giving you the feedback that you are doing something wrong. Trust your feelings! Even the best teacher’s ear can’t know how YOU feel. Here are 4 important CVT guidelines:

  • Singing must always feel comfortable
  • The technique must have the intended effect immediately otherwise the training is not being done correctly.
  • If an exercise hurts or feels uncomfortable or wrong, then it IS wrong. You are the only one who knows how it feels, so trust your judgement.
  • Always practise as close to a real-life situation as possible. For instance, musicians who sit when they sing should also practise while sitting.

Exercises must be simple
THE WAY you work with exercises is much more important than the exercises themselves. Focus on exactly HOW you work with the voice during an exercise. Remember three errors in a row means to make the exercise easier!!! Complicated exercise are often more of a distraction while trying to solve technical problems. CVT exercises are purposely simple with each one of them dealing with one technical problem at a time. The melodic sequence in exercises are not very important. The WAY in which you work with the exercises, however, is important. If you wish to use other exercises, please feel free to do so.

Songs instead of complicated exercises
Once you are able to perform simple exercises with the correct technique, you will have a solid foundation with which to approach the problems in songs. At CVI we see no point in working through difficult and complicated rhythmic and melodic sequences in order to train your voice. Instead, you should tackle the problems in a song and its real problems. Every time you come across a technical problem return to a simple exercise and concentrate on solving this technical problem. Once you have figured out HOW to solve the problem transfer the technique to the song.

However to increase musical inspiration and to develop phrasings or improvisations, practicing a variety of scales such as the minor scales, pentatonic scales or blues scale is encouraged.

Changing the key of the exercises
Moving the key of exercises up or down allows you to perfect the same exercise at all pitches. The same emphasis on focus and correct practice must be observed.

Personalize your training program
Change your exercise routine as you see fit. Vary it, move it around, create your own exercises. Exercises can also be creative. However be focused on your technical goal and make the exercises easier if you have three errors in a row!

How long should you practice
It depends on the individual and you must judge how long you can work and be concentrate and effective in regards to your energy and physical strength. Improper training is not very useful and might hinder your progress. Poorly performed exercise are not useful in the long run. Rather limit yourself to several short but focused session, then one long exhaustive session.

Practise with other singers
Group lessons are a way to connect with other singers and to find mutual support and encouragement. Practising together is more fun and you can give each other feedback because it is generally easier to hear the mistakes of other singers than your own. The importance is to trust yourself and respect each others separate taste from technique.

Use exact vowels
Vowels play an important role in CVT. They need to be recognized and established 100% correctly so that the technique can work in the right way. A wrong vowel sound can be the source of many vocal limitations. Take time to understand exactly which vowel is called for.