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.