Intro to Vocal Ped Syllabus

Instructor: Dr. Ian Howell, Vocal Pedagogy Director
Time and Location: Mondays 2-3:50 pm, Carr Room JH 367
Office Hours: by appointment only


Required Materials

  1. McCoy, Scott. Your Voice: An Inside View (2nd Edition). Delaware: Inside View Press, 2012.
  2. Additional readings and multimedia DVDs/online videos
  3. Access to a computer (Mac or PC) and the Internet
  4. Regularly referenced materials found at (login info sent via email)




Not open to freshmen or sophomores; open to all graduate students, and juniors and seniors with instructor permission

Course Description

An introduction to vocal pedagogy, this course explores optimal singing technique in the context of a singer’s organizing principle, the series of clear thoughts that gives rise to a coordinated singing body. Practical anatomy and acoustics, historical treatises, and the paradoxes that inform technical choices in classical and musical theater styles are also covered. Regular listening exercises, readings, in-class demonstrations and presentations, and discussions are supplemented by exposure to computer based singing analysis and synthesis systems.

As the PRIMARY OBJECTIVES of this course, students will:

  1. Question the thought process they employ when singing (their organizing principle), and notice how these patterns (both productive and counterproductive) physically manifest in the performances and teaching styles of others
  2. Develop an understanding of the way that the human body’s physiological and neurological constraints dictate successful approaches to singing, predict problematic areas of the voice, and explain the characteristic sound of an elite singer
  3. Discover how physical coordination can arise from the conscious separation and reintegration of related actions
  4. Cultivate aural and visual skills through regular listening exercises and real-time computer analysis and synthesis of singing
  5. Be exposed to a broad cross-section of pedagogy literature, both historical and modern, and understand how teaching vocabulary has changed over time
  6. Place their own technique and vocal education into a broad context, and reflect upon the differences between studying vocal pedagogy and studying voice
  7. Begin to develop the skills needed to write about singing
  8. Gain a solid knowledge base, preparing them to take VC 566 Advanced Vocal Pedagogy

Course Assignments in Brief

  1. Weekly readings with a short, shared written response
  2. Periodic quizes
  3. Journal club
  4. Final presentation with written thesis

Course Assignments in Detail

  1. Readings will be assigned most weeks, and students will be expected to come to class prepared to discuss them. Each week, students will write a short reaction to the assigned readings in a private online forum and briefly comment upon two of the reactions of their colleagues. These reactions should be several sentences long, concise, and demonstrate not only an effort to comprehend the readings, but also an effort to find connections between the author’s thesis, other readings, and your current understanding of the voice. Ask each other questions, challenge the author, &c. Deadlines appear below.
  2. At the end of certain units, students will take a short quiz.
  3. Depending on total enrollment, students will each read one to two scholarly article (from the Journal of Singing or similar) assigned by the instructor, write a concise (250-350 words) summary of the author’s thesis, sources, methodology, and conclusions, and present their summation to the class. Please use audio, video, or power point if appropriate. You are limited to 8 minutes for this presentation. None of these articles are particularly imposing; don’t worry about statistical analysis.
  4. Students will give a 20-minute final presentation to the class synthesizing something related to the materials covered. Some possible examples: an analysis of several recordings of the same piece illustrating a specific point, a comparison of pedagogues that highlights inconsistencies or conflicts, or a purposeful survey of the student body or faculty. You will present a concise lecture with either powerpoint and recordings (if applicable) or a poster. The nature of your topic will determine which approach is more logical. Please choose a topic close to your own interests; I want your presentation to be meaningful, substantial, and an opportunity for you to be creative outside of a performance setting. You must clear your topic with the instructor ahead of time and meet for a progress report. If recordings are used, playing them may take no more than 8 minutes of the presentation.
  5. You will submit a concise, written paper representing the thesis of your final presentation with appropriate citations, figures, and supporting materials.
    1. M.M. in vocal pedagogy students: Word limit 2250-2750, excluding bibliography
    2. All other degrees: Word limit 1000-1500, excluding bibliography.

Proposals for your paper– including a summary of your thesis and supporting materials–will be due Monday, October 23rd. Your first draft is due Monday, November 13th. You may rewrite your paper for a higher grade.

There is no final exam. 


Weekly readings reactions: 30%
Journal club (article summary/presentation): 10%
Quizes: 15%
Final paper proposal: 10%
Final paper/presentation: 35%


Technical Requirements for all Written Work

Any written assignment must be submitted electronically to your shared dropbox folder as either a WORD or POWERPOINT file. Weekly readings reactions will be submitted via my website. Please follow the style guide found in the shared dropbox folder.


Due Dates

            Weekly readings reactions are due by 5 p.m. (Eastern time zone) each Friday afternoon. Your comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. each Sunday.

All other written work must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the designated due date.

Proposals for your final papers are due October the 23rd. Your first draft of your final paper is due November 13th. You may turn in a revision for a higher grade.

Please feel free to turn in any assignment ahead of time. A half grade will be subtracted for each day following the due date. Plan ahead to turn your materials in on time. Communicate with me early if there is going to be an issue.

Academic Integrity

This class follows the academic integrity policy of this conservatory. Plagiarism is a serious offense, and you could be expelled from school for it. Document all quotes in your written work. Document all borrowed ideas in your written work, even if (especially if) you have paraphrased! If you are not sure, cite it. Please see the style guide in the shared dropbox folder for citation instructions.

Class Attendance and Participation

You are expected to come to all classes on time, having completed all assignments, ready to discuss the material. If you must miss class for an approved reason (meaning a medical emergency or performance/competition/big audition), make sure to let me know ahead of time. Otherwise your participation grade will suffer. If you miss more than three classes for any reason, you should talk to me about your future in the course. In any case, if you miss class, plan on making up the work in some manner.

Have a question or concern? Talk with me early on.

Preliminary Course Calendar (Subject to Change)

UNIT 1: History

Week 1: Introduction, review of syllabus, a survey of “Organizing Principles,” Paradoxes, and Listening

Week 2: Lecture on Coffin, Historical Vocal Pedagogy Classics

Week 3: Modern Rediscovery of Historical Approaches – Reid, Coffin, and Austin 

UNIT 2: How it Works

Week 4: Basic Laryngeal, Vocal Tract, Respiratory, and Postural Anatomy and Physiology (1)

Week 5: Basic Laryngeal, Vocal Tract, Respiratory, and Postural Anatomy and Physiology (2)

Week 6: Basic Motor Learning Theory, Intro to Techniques Used in SLP Therapy

Week 7: Voice hygiene and Self-Care

UNIT 3: Analysis and Acoustics

Week 8: Sound and Resonance, Source vs. Result, and What is a Vowel?

Week 9: Formants and Harmonics – Hints of Acoustical Registers

Week 10: Registration – The Sound and the Mechanics


UNIT 4: Presentations

Week 11: Presentations                       

Week 12: Presentations

Week 13: Presentations

Course Bibliography

Arneson, Christopher. Voice Repertoire from a Developmental Perspective. Deleware: Inside View Press, (anticipated) 2013.

Bozeman, Kenneth W. Practical Vocal Acoustics: Pedagogic Applications for Teachers and Singers. Hillsdale, NY: Pendragon Press, 2013.

Brown, Howard M. and Rebecca Stewart. “Workshop IV. Voice Types in Josquin’s Music.” Tijdschrift van de Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis  35,  1/2, Proceedings of the Josquin Symposium. Cologne (1985): pp. 97-193.

Coffin, Berton. Historical Vocal Pedagogy Classics. Lanham: Scarecrow, 1989.

Doscher, Barbara M. The Functional Unity of the Singing Voice. London: Scarecrow, 1994.

Feldenkrais, Moshé. Awareness Through Movement: Health Exercises for Personal Growth. New York: Harper & Row, 1972.

Garcia II, Manuel. A Complete Treatise on the Art of Singing. The editions of 1847 and 1872 edited and translated by Donald V. Paschke. New York: Da Capo Press, 1975.

Garcia, Manuel. Exercises and Method for Singing. London: T. Boosey & Co., 1824.

Hines, Jerome. Great Singers on Great Singing. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1982.

McCoy, Scott. Your Voice: An Inside View. Delaware: Inside View Press, 2012.

McKinney, James C. The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults. Nashville: Genevox Music Group, 1994.

Miller, Donald. Resonance in Singing. Princeton: Inside View Press, 2008.

Miller, Richard. On the Art of Singing. New York: Oxford University, 1996.

___________. The Structure of Singing: System and Art in Vocal Technique. New York: Schirmer, 1986.

Ravens, Simon. “‘A Sweet Shrill Voice’: The Countertenor and Vocal Scoring in Tudor England.” Early Music 26, 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 122-134.

Reid, Cornelius L. “Functional Vocal Training.” Journal of Orgonomy 4, 2 (1970):  231-249.

______________. “Functional Vocal Training, Part 2.” Journal of Orgonomy 5, 1 (1971):  231-249.

______________. Voice: Psyche and Soma. New York: J. Patelson Music, 1975.

Smith, W. Stephen. The Naked Voice. Oxford: Oxford University, 2007.

Sundberg, Johan. The Science of the Singing Voice. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University, 1987.

Titze, Ingo R. Principles of Voice Production. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1994.

Titze, Ingo and Katherine Verdolini Abbott. Vocology: The Science and Practice of Voice Habilitation. ???: National Center for Voice and Speech, 2012.

Vennard, William. Singing: The Mechanism and the Technic. New York: Carl Fischer, 1967.

Additional videos and media from The National Center for Voice and Speech and Inside View Press.