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Vocal Advancement Podcast


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  • 3. Empowering Transgender and Non-Binary Singers in Voice Lessons with Ajay Henry

    59:51
    As singing teachers, we want our students to be comfortable with their voices and willing to explore their range. But what happens when we instruct non-binary and transgender students who experience voice dysphoria, or discomfort from the feeling that their voice does not match their gender identity?This episode’s guest, vocal coach, songwriter, and music lecturer Ajay Henry, has been exploring ways to help non-binary and transgender students feel more empowered and comfortable with their voices. Having taught many non-binary and transgender singers, Ajay encourages vocal teachers to focus on what each individual student wants to achieve and let them help guide their lessons.It’s an approach that requires teachers to rethink common beliefs about music, such as gendered roles in singing. Yet it also helps build trust between student and teacher — and can create a massive impact in a transgender or non-binary singer’s identity that goes beyond their singing.In this episode, you’ll learn:(17:57) How early vocal injuries and an experience with a vocal therapist led Ajay to do his Masters study on vocal anatomy and breathing(12:00) How Ajay built on the work of voice educator Liz Jackson Hearns to better help his transgender students(16:07) Why it’s so important to view each singer as an individual when making voice lessons more inclusive and choosing what language to use(18:09) How Ajay deals with voice dysphoria by focusing on each singer’s comfort level and goals for their voice(21:56) How steering away from gendered roles in singing can help students discover the ranges where they feel their voices best fit(29:01) How teachers can prepare to teach transgender or non-binary students — and what type of support network they should have to provide needed help  (32:38) The practice of “binding,” how it can affect a student’s ability to do breathwork, and what adjustments a teacher can make to sensitively work with the student(36:45) How helping students become more comfortable with their voices can positively impact them outside of singing lessons(41:34) The difficulties of adapting current singing curriculums to the needs and challenges of non-binary and transgender singers(44:24) How to find more resources to help teach non-binary and transgender singersKeep up with Ajay’s activities on his Instagram and his website. The singing teacher Ajay references is Liz Jackson Hearns, co-founder of The Voice Lab, an inclusive voice studio dedicated to cultivating transformative relationships through voice and music education.Ajay Henry is just one of the many talented performers and educators we’ll be interviewing this season. Make sure you hear from them all by following us on the Vocal Advancement Podcast.About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute of Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide voice teachers with a support network to provide you with the best teaching tools and strategies to advance your career. Our trainers teach from an empathic mindset, showing you how to improve your own teaching style. Learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!

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  • 2. Using Singing to build Communities, Health and a sense of belonging with Lisa Strong

    55:07
    Think back to your time singing in your favorite choir or band. What did you love most about the experience?You likely enjoyed the sense of belonging that comes from being part of a group that shares your love of music. Ideally, you found good friends and formed close bonds.But did you know this feeling of community offers mental, physical, and emotional benefits that go beyond socializing?This episode’s guest, Lisa Strong, does. An occupational therapist, professional singer, and leader of the Walton Feel Good Choir, Lisa started her singing group to raise community spirit in the Tendring area of Essex, England. As community members, which included retirees, dementia patients, and the socially isolated, joined, Lisa saw improvements in their cognition, multi-tasking abilities, and communication as they sang together and supported each other.The group even became motivated to raise money for local charities through their performances, further nurturing their sense of belonging and interconnectedness.These experiences motivated Lisa to conduct formal research on health and singing to show health professionals the holistic benefits of singing and how inclusive choirs can improve the health of an entire community. She shares some of her findings with Heather and Tom, revealing how choir leaders can create a greater sense of belonging in their groups by adopting a more inclusive policy.In this episode, you’ll learn:(8:46) How Lisa started the Walton Feel Good Choir to deal with the social isolation in her town (12:07) Why Lisa is building an evidence-based model to show health professionals the holistic benefits of group singing(16:20) What people need to have to enjoy the mental and emotional benefits of group singing(17:47) How group singing helps improve memory, attention, focus, and other cognitive abilities(21:21) Why certain choirs do not foster a sense of belonging(25:47) How to build a sense of belonging in your choir by welcoming and accommodating choir members of all backgrounds(30:17) Why different styles of choir leadership may attract different types of singers(34:32) How to effectively promote the mental and emotional health benefits of group singing to the mental health community(39:28) The business benefits of creating a space for group singing(42:12) The mental and emotional benefits singing instructors gain from leading a choirVisit the Walton Feel Good Choir website and its Facebook page to learn more about its mission and Lisa’s work. You can hear valuable insights from talented performers and educators right now by listening to the Vocal Advancement Podcast. Follow us and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss an episode! About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide both veteran vocal coaches and teachers-in-training with a community that provides teaching tools for your classrooms. And our conferences are fun events where guests can socialize, teach, and learn from each other. Want to see what we can do for you? Learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 1. Getting Started as a Voice Teacher with Heather and Tom

    51:50
    Welcome to Season Two of the Vocal Advancement Podcast! Whether you’re a longtime listener or tuning in for the first time, we invite you to delve into all the fun and useful resources we have for you.Join Tom and Heather as they share the exciting lineup of voice coaches, researchers, and professional singers they’ll be interviewing this season. You’ll also get the inside scoop on IVACON 2024, the first IVA conference open to all voice teachers (not just IVA students and teachers) and all the amazing opportunities you’ll have to practice and level up your teaching skills with veteran vocal coaches.If you’re just getting started in voice teaching and wondering how to gain the skills and confidence to manage your classes, you’ll love this episode. Heather and Tom reflect on their early teaching days and explain how they turned teaching theory into practice.In this episode, you’ll learn:4:57: Who Tom and Heather will be interviewing about singing and teaching this season(7:13) How to attend this year’s Vocal Advancement conference in June 2024 — even if you’re not affiliated with IVA!(13:00) How Heather got her start as a voice teacher and gained the skills and confidence to build a full-time career offering private vocal lessons(15:34) How Tom’s singing teacher helped him build his career as a voice coach(18:10) Why new teachers have a high turnover of students in their first year — and why this can be a good thing(20:07) The transformation singing teachers go through in their first year as they learn to shift focus from their lessons to their students’ needs(21:40) Why improving your own singing technique can make you a better voice teacher (22:50) How attending conferences and observing other teachers can improve your teaching(24:42) The challenges that come with teaching an advanced singer — and what you as a voice coach can offer them(29:32) Why it’s important to go off-book and try unconventional teaching methods (32:11) The importance of taking advantage of every teaching opportunity when you’re starting out — and where you can find those opportunities(39:15) The business side of voice teaching — what realities do you have to be prepared for when you become self-employed?(45:34) The importance of constantly investing in your own education as you grow as a teacherReady for our upcoming IVACON 2024 in Edinburgh from June 17-21? Then visit the IVACON 2024 event page to learn all about our event speakers, programming, and accommodations. Be sure to register today to take advantage of all our sessions, resources, goodies — and karaoke night!Are you excited to hear from all the talented performers and educators we’ll be interviewing this season? Make sure you don’t miss a single episode by following us on the Vocal Advancement Podcast.About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThis year’s IVA conference may be months away, but you can start enjoying the teaching resources IVA provides you with right now by checking out how our Teacher Training Programs can help advance your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 24. Working on The Voice Germany

    01:11:39
    Do any of your students dream of performing on a TV show like The Voice or one of the Idols singing competitions?Then they’ll want to hear the insights of this week’s guest Stephanie Borm-Krüger, co-founder of the Institute for Vocal Advancement and vocal coach for The Voice of Germany. Being a coach on a TV show like The Voice is challenging, especially when you only get a few minutes with each contestant to help them sound their best. Yet according to Stephanie, working in such a high-pressure environment also inspires coaches be more creative in their teaching methods — and unlocks opportunities to work some truly extraordinary people.Join us as Stephanie reveals what it really takes for anyone — singer and teacher — to succeed in the world of show business. Learn how stepping out of your comfort zone helps you gain more trust in your instincts. And discover where resilience really comes into play when working in such a high-stress field. In this episode, you’ll learn:How learning how to fix her own damaged voice helped Stephanie discover how to fix hard voices in other singers 8:05The vital role networking played in introducing Stephanie to the world of show business 13:52How much time a vocal coach gets to work with the singers on The Voice — and the challenges this creates 21:54The issues of maintaining vocal health and advocating for singers in a competitive and high-stress atmosphere 26:39How to succeed in a show like The Voice 35:16The importance of realizing if working in a high-stress field is right for you 41:17Why stepping out of your comfort zone is important for developing a good toolbox of teaching techniques 44:11The benefits of observing other master teachers at work 49:47Stephanie offers professional voice training to singers of all levels and styles. Learn how she can help you by visiting her IVA profile pageDisclaimer: The free November online teaching summit Tom mentions has been pushed to January 2024 — sign up for our mailing list, and we’ll let you know when you can sign up for this and other great free resources!Can’t wait for the summit? You can hear valuable insights from talented performers and educators right now by listening to the Vocal Advancement Podcast. Follow us and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss an episode! About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementInterested in becoming a better vocal coach? The Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA) connects you with teachers who can provide you with more teaching tools for your classrooms. The IVA community and trainers teach from the empathic mindset that students of all ages benefit from, showing you how to improve your own teaching style.Check out our list of upcoming events and learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 23. Can gesturing help with your singing?

    47:23
    Join Heather and Tom as they talk about the effects of gestures on singing.The Vocal Advancement Podcast interviews many talented performers and educators, each with their own unique perspective on music and teaching. Follow us and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss an episode! IVA offers plenty of great resources for singers and voice coaches, including a FREE singing teacher’s summit in November 2023 and a vocal warm-up app for IOS and Android phones that’s due in October 2023. Sign up for our mailing list and be notified when these resources come out! About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementInterested in becoming a better vocal coach? The Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA) connects you with teachers who can provide you with more teaching tools for your classrooms. The IVA community and trainers teach from the empathic mindset that students of all ages benefit from, showing you how to improve your own teaching style.Check out our list of upcoming events and learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 22. Are you a perfectionist? With Helen Woodley

    59:59
    Are you a “triple threat” — a performer who’s adept at singing, dancing, and acting?If you want to work in musical theater, revue shows, or cruise ship entertainment, you’ll often find producers expect their dancers to have some singing ability.Unfortunately, many performers who identify primarily as dancers may resist learning how to sing. Having held themselves to extremely high dance standards, many choose to believe they “can’t sing” when they don’t immediately sound like Beyonce Knowles.This week’s guest helps prevent that perfectionism from getting in the way of performing dreams. A professional singer who identifies as a dancer, Helen Woodley has helped many dancers become comfortable with their singing voices — even when they need to sing in a foreign language. Her experiences have showed her the dangers of “maladaptive perfectionism” and how it can lead to anxiety, depression, and avoidant behaviors that keep talented people from expanding their skillsets.Join us as Helen explains the challenges perfectionism creates for students and teachers. Discover strategies that encourage students to recognize the voice as another muscle that can be trained. And learn where those self-limiting beliefs about singing and performing may originally come from.In this episode, you’ll learn:How Helen’s early background as a dancer unexpectedly gave way to a singing career 7:43 Why modern musical theater is now requiring more dancers to know how to sing 9:26The unique challenges voice coaches face when working with dancers without a strong singing background 12:38Why students decide they “can’t sing” 15:19The difference between adaptive perfectionism and maladaptive perfectionism 17:48The tendency dancers have in developing maladaptive perfectionism 21:10How to encourage a dancer to develop their singing abilities 23:45How social media and reality shows have helped create limiting beliefs about singing and training 29:28How adult dancers need to look at singing and their ongoing singing education 34:15If singing should be part of a dancer’s early education 38:00 The Vocal Advancement Podcast interviews many talented performers and educators, each with their own unique perspective on music and teaching. Follow us and subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss an episode! IVA offers plenty of great resources for singers and voice coaches, including a FREE singing teacher’s summit in November 2023 and a vocal warm-up app for IOS and Android phones that’s due in October 2023. Sign up for our mailing list and be notified when these resources come out! About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementInterested in becoming a better vocal coach? The Institute for Vocal Advancement (IVA) connects you with teachers who can provide you with more teaching tools for your classrooms. The IVA community and trainers teach from the empathic mindset that students of all ages benefit from, showing you how to improve your own teaching style.Check out our list of upcoming events and learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!
  • 21. Did You Warm-Up Before You Sang? with Tessa Smith

    55:45
    Do you do vocal warm-ups before you sing?If you’re like a lot of us, you may gloss over this part of your singing process. Maybe you feel you don’t have enough time. Or maybe you think good warm-ups can’t be done without a piano.This week’s guest Tessa Smith knows how you feel. In fact, she spent much of her early life skipping her warm-ups and going straight to singing. But a chance meeting with session singer Kim Chandler showed Tessa that beneficial warm-ups could be done in five minutes, anywhere and anytime, with no special tools. Intrigued, Tessa began researching vocal warm-ups. What she found enabled her to embrace a new philosophy where warm-ups don’t have to be prescribed exercises but adaptable activities that performers change based on what their voices need.Join us as Tessa reveals why warm-ups are so important. We’ll also delve into the benefits offered by short and long warm-ups and the obstacles that keep musicians from warming up. Finally, we’ll explore how performers can check-in with themselves to discover what warm-ups or cool-downs will help them the most.In this episode, you’ll learn:How her early music teachers inspired Tessa to pursue a career in jazz — and later teaching 6:44How a meeting with Kim Chandler caused Tessa to re-evaluate her beliefs about vocal warm-ups 12:25The different benefits offered by short, physiological warm-ups and longer warm-ups 16:25Common obstacles that keep many students from wanting to do warm-ups 18:24What singers need to ask themselves before deciding what vocal warm-ups they need 19:25How much time a singer should spend warming up their voice to avoid straining it 22:58How to approach “cool-down” periods and get your voice back to its base position after performing 25:50How singing lessons can help you understand what warm-ups and cool-downs your voice needs at any given time 31:35The type of vocal warm-ups non-singers (professional speakers, podcasters) can benefit from 32:56Why teaching students how to adapt vocal warm-ups to their needs motivates them to actually use those exercises in the field 34:14The responsibility singing teachers have in properly explain vocal warm-ups and their purpose to students 38:16How Tessa teaches students to alter warm-ups to fit whatever they’re working on 38:59Tessa’s favorite SOVT exercise — and the importance of not relying on external tools for warm-ups 40:32Find the educational courses and resources on vocal warm-ups Tessa describes at her website.Ready to get some more help with your warm-ups? IVA is coming out with a vocal warm-up IOS and Android app in October 2023 for both male and female singers. Sign up for our mailing list to be notified when the app is released!  About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementInterested in checking out our webinars and online courses? See what’s coming up in our list of upcoming events and learn how our Teacher Training Programs can help your career. Use the code “iva20percent” to get 20% off your first year’s course membership fee!