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Vocal Advancement Podcast

Evidence Based Pedagogy with Kari Ragan

Season 2, Ep. 8

Voice teachers today can build expertise in so many different fields — vocal anatomy, musical theory, acting, multiple singing techniques — that many teachers feel they need to have all the answers.


And that’s too much to ask of anyone. Because the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know — and how developing a network of experts is essential to provide you and your students with the knowledge they need.


Our guest today, singing voice specialist Kari Ragan, knows a lot about the power of collaboration. While she’s been teaching singers for over forty years, Kari appreciates that she doesn’t know everything about vocal health and regularly collaborates with medical experts to help rehabilitate singers with injured voices or vocal pathology.


Join Tom and Heather as they learn more about how Kari has collaborated with doctors, teachers, and other experts in her decades-long career to help singers. Reflect on when it’s important to know when you need to refer out to provide students with the best teachers for their needs. And discover all the resources available today (including many provided by the IVA!) for developing a support network that helps everyone achieve their full potential.


In this episode, we cover:

  1. How Kari’s teaching career led her to work with many music genres, age groups, and singers (5:12)
  2. What a Singing Voice Specialist (SVS) is, and why they need to work in tandem with a medical team (9:47)
  3. The major trends and changes Kari has witnessed in vocal pedagogy and research over her decades-long career (16:01)
  4. Misconceptions surrounding evidence-based pedagogy, and how this form of pedagogy includes multiple areas of expertise (22:01)
  5. The purpose of Kari’s book, “A Systematic Approach to Voice” (30:56)
  6. The evolution of teaching classical and contemporary singing techniques (37:29)
  7. Why being willing and able to refer to outside experts is important (41:45)
  8. The necessity of staying current with vocal research for voice coaches (45:19)
  9. All the opportunities for collaboration available to modern voice teachers (46:10)
  10. The strength that comes from admitting what you don’t know (54:30)


Stay in touch with Kari at her website where you can find links to many of her articles. Check out Kari’s webinar “A Systematic Approach to Voice,” which covers the definition and application of Evidence-Based Voice Pedagogy (EBVP).


And make sure you hear from all our other guests by following us on the Vocal Advancement Podcast and subscribing to our YouTube channel! Is there a teacher, performer, or researcher you think would make a great guest on our show? Email us at hello@vocaladvancement.com and let us know!


About the Institute for Vocal Advancement

The 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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  • 10. How Much Information Should You Share in a Voice Lesson? With Heather and Tom

    49:58
    Here at the Vocal Advancement, we give teachers access to a wealth of knowledge. Between our webinars and conferences — not to mention our delightful podcast — you can learn a lot about vocal anatomy, singing careers, vocal pedagogy, and much more.But how much of this knowledge should you share with your students when you teach?It’s a question that has no “right” answer. Some beginners get confused when you bombard them with too much technical information, slowing down their progress. Other students hunger for this knowledge and will take up class time bombarding you with questions about vocal theory. Ultimately, it’s up to each teacher to walk that fine line between teaching theory and practice.In this episode, Tom and Heather talk about how to effectively impart technical knowledge to students and turn that theory into practice. They look at the art of teaching and the importance of learning how different students process information to instruct them better.    We explore:How imposter syndrome can cause beginner teachers to overshare their knowledge — and why that can be detrimental to students (8:30)The type of students who can benefit from learning theory, and the type who require more practical instruction (13:50)What to do when you encounter students who do want to learn more about theory (16:03)How to explain voice concepts without being overly technical (17:40)The art of using your technical knowledge to help a singer develop their vocal techniques (23:58)What to do when a student comes to you with a question you don’t know how to answer (26:47)The value of being a teacher with more experience (28:40)Teaching voice concepts to students who are neurodivergent or have other educational needs (30:49)The importance of having enough self-knowledge and humility to know when you’re not the right teacher for a student (32:16)Understanding the different goals of your students and the importance of letting them have fun in the lessons (33:59)How to keep students motivated and aware of what they’ve learned and achieved through their lessons (39:39)What’s next for the Vocal Advancement Podcast — and how you can listen to our bonus episodes! (47:19) The 2024 IVACON Conference is just around the corner. It will run from June 17 to 21 in Edinburgh, Scotland. But don’t worry if you can’t join us in person; we’ve got you covered! Tom and Heather will host a special bonus podcast season with daily episodes so you can feel like you're part of the action! Follow us on the Vocal Advancement Podcast and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up! The Vocal Advancement Podcast will return with many more exciting guests later this year. If you know a teacher, performer, or researcher who would make a great guest on our show, email us at hello@vocaladvancement.com!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 the 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!
  • 9. The Secret to Pop Singing with Renee Maranan

    55:10
    How do you help your students make pop music “pop”?At one point, many voice teachers saw pop music as a performance that flaunted the conventions of traditional music and didn’t need to be studied as a singing technique.This episode’s guest, vocal instructor Renee Maranan, disagrees. To Renee, breaking the rules of classical singing requires singers to have a firm grasp of those rules in the first place so they can make deliberate, sustainable choices that form emotional connections with their audience.This means pop singers need to be instructed in vocal science and conventional singing techniques even as they build their own aesthetic. Come hear how Renee breaks down both the art of singing pop music and the challenges of teaching this music style to students. Learn how the very definition of “pop music” encompasses a wide range of sounds, requiring singers to become comfortable with exploring their voices and the places they can take it. And discover why becoming an effective pop music singer ultimately requires training to produce an effective — and intentional — sound of their own. In this episode, we discuss:How growing up in a Filipino musical culture of pop music provided Renee with a unique perspective on pop music performance and teaching (3:03)Why teaching multiple genres of music help reveal new teaching techniques that are more effective with different students (4:40)The style choices that create the aesthetic of “pop music” (7:07)Cultural differences in pop — and the rising popularity of collaborating with pop singers from different states and countries to produce new flavors of music (11:17)How artists find a “good” pop sound through exploration and being open to change (16:08)The value of listening deliberately to pop music and picking out the details (20:11)Why mastering pop music singing requires training (25:00)How the relationship between pop musicians and their audience has changed in today’s online age (26:48)New opportunities for sharing your pop music and passion projects (30:05)How to direct students’ attention to the details of a pop music singer’s technique (32:30)Renee’s advice for new voice coaches just starting to teach pop music (35:07)The importance of developing a strong musical foundation in your pop singer students (41:55)Book a session with Renee Maranan by visiting her website and follow her on Instagram to learn more about her upcoming classes.Is there a teacher, performer, or researcher you think would make a great guest on our show? Email us at hello@vocaladvancement.com and let us know!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 the 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!
  • 7. Can being a singer damage your mental health? with Dr George Musgrave

    01:01:32
    Disclaimer: This podcast mentions suicide in connection with the music industrySometimes, students become so passionate about building a music career that they jeopardize their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Beyond that, the music industry is competitive and has been linked to depression, anxiety, and even suicide among occupational musicians. Even performers who overcame huge odds to become professionals later discover they don’t want to be part of such a stressful world and seek an exit plan.This episode’s guest Dr. George Musgrave has a unique perspective on this. A former professional rap artist once signed with Sony Records, Dr. Musgrave now enjoys a position as a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Sociology and Creative Industries at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research focuses on the psychological and emotional experience of musicians building their careers.In this episode, we’ll discuss:(5:07) How George made the shift from the music world to academia — and used his experiences to improve research on music and mental health.(11:04) Why music careers can be sources of great joy and great suffering.(17:00) The “dark side of optimism.”(19:42) How and why musicians who see music as their main career can have worse mental health outcomes compared to those who do not.(25:01) The challenges of monetizing music in today’s online industry — and why the average musician’s earnings can be worse than a McDonald’s employee.(29:22) How your personal view of success has a positive or negative impact on your mental health.(33:56) The importance of having a “Plan B” backup plan when pursuing a music career(36:40) The responsibility teachers have for equipping students with skills they can use in their careers, no matter how “big” they make it.(40:20) The inequalities and hazards of the music industry(49:10) Why the performing lifestyle is not for everyone(51:40) If turning your hobby into a career can take some of the pleasure away(53:14) Why having a backup plan is useful when training to be a voice teacherGeorge lists many mental health resources for musicians. These include:Tonic Music for Mental Health: Training and support for music industry professionalshttps://www.thecalmzone.net/: Suicide supportMusic Support: Support for peers in the music industry affected by mental illness and/or addictionIf you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline can offer additional helpful resources.Visit George on his university page and read his papers.About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementThe Institute of Vocal Advancement (IVA) was created to provide voice teachers with a support network that provides you with the best teaching tools and strategies to advance your career. Our trainers teach from the 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!
  • 6. Delivering Helpful Feedback with Lynn Maxfield

    56:45
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  • 5. Personalising the Use of Imagery in Voice Lessons with Jenna Brown

    54:55
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  • 4. A Very Important Message for Voice Teachers with Bob Marks

    01:02:13
    How does auditioning for the stage and screen look like in today’s post-pandemic era?Now, casting directors prefer reviewing “self-tapes” or pre-recorded videos that showcase a performer’s acting or singing talents during the initial audition process. It’s a major shift from the days when actors had to meet in person and perform live.But according to vocal coach Bob Marks, this break with tradition is opening many opportunities for performers who no longer need to travel across the country to audition for their dream roles. That said, creating an excellent self-tape and leveraging the power of online casting takes skill — which is why Bob now coaches performers on how to produce the type of self-tape that not only showcases their skills but also helps them stand out from thousands of other auditions.In this episode, you’ll learn:(7:11) How networking enabled Bob to build a successful career as a vocal coach(13:58) The advantages of using self-tapes in auditions(15:49) How to appear professional when creating self-tapes for auditions(19:11) The number of songs an actor should have ready when auditioning — and how to choose an appropriate song for an audition(20:25) How to pick out a 90-second cut out of a song to include for your self-tape audition (23:25) The songs you don’t want to pick for your audition (which many other singers often overuse) (29:37) How Bob helps prioritize and organize material when a performer needs to make and submit a self-tape right away(32:34) Why the self-tape is here to stay — and why that’s a good thing for singers, actors, and casting directors(33:56) How self-tapes can open the door for performers not based in New York and London (35:02) How online learning is changing the way voice coaches teach, and how singing teachers need to adapt to such changes(45:00) How self-tapes are being used for marketing(50:00) The benefits of being able to email self-tapes vs. traveling to auditions(52:10) How casting practices both limit and increase opportunities for performersIf you’d like Bob to help you with your voice and auditioning technique, contact him via his website.Bob’s book, “88 Keys to Successful Singing Performances: Audition Advice from One of America’s Top Vocal Coaches” can be purchased on Amazon.Download Bob’s IVA webinar, “Keys to Audition Success with Bob Marks” which covers how to prepare for your audition, build confidence, choose your music, and work with accompanists.We’ve got many other exciting guests lined up for this season’s Vocal Advancement Podcast. Make sure you hear from all of them by following us! Is there a teacher, performer, or researcher you think would make a great guest on our show? Email us at hello@vocaladvancement.com and let us know!About the Institute for Vocal AdvancementCheck out our webinars in our list of upcoming events and 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!
  • 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!
  • 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!