As a result of the growing interest in Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) singing, and growing interest in TV shows like ‘X Factor’, and ‘American Idol’,  many CCM singers are realising the importance of building a solid vocal technique. Because of a lack of scientific understanding and poor kinaesthetic awareness, singing pedagogies have relied on the use of imagery and on the sensations of singers and teachers (Morris, 2012, Chapman, 2006). In the 21st century, however, scientific understanding and knowledge about the voice, as well as a great tradition of imagery and sensation-based pedagogies, has led to a great deal of disagreement about the best method to approach the teaching of singing. Vocal music is a broad field and incorporates many genres. Voice qualities vary greatly between these styles and are very different from classical singing (Bjorkner, 2008, p. 533), which has been the predominant style of tuition until relatively recently. The difference in voice quality between classical and CCM styles has raised issues about the nature of appropriate teaching for CCM. Some have argued that different techniques are needed for learning to sing CCM and that classical tuition is not appropriate. The research reported here aims to develop a greater understanding of pedagogy as it applies to CCM by interviewing ten internationally acclaimed vocal coaches and asking them to indicate what approach they would have to addressing the difficulties of two singing students presented to them on video. Epistemologically, this research adopted a phenomenological approach and semi-structured interviews were used. The research has generated some very specific lessons for vocal pedagogy. It has shown: teachers need to base their teaching on an in depth understanding of the physiology of breathing and singing rather than just teaching how they were taught and tailor their teaching to the needs of individual students, as well as be aware of the latest developments in vocal pedagogy; that there are differences between teaching singing in the classical and CCM styles; that learning about specific styles requires specific training. Teachers should have professional performing experience; encourage and support students; and help their students to become emotionally aware, personally and when communicating with an audience. Education is ultimately concerned with the improvement of practice. My aim is that this study may contribute to the development and reevaluation of the teaching and learning of CCM singing in Ireland and provide a strong and comprehensive vocal methodology.

Published in: World Congress on Education (WCE-2018)

  • Date of Conference: 15-18 July 2018
  • DOI: 10.2053/WCE.2018.0005
  • ISBN: 978-1-908320-91-9
  • Conference Location: Dublin, Ireland