Voice Class Syllabus

New England Conservatory
VC 161/162/ 261/262
VC 521/522
Voice Class for Undergraduate/Graduate Level Non-Classical Voice Majors Fall 2017
Professor Emily Siar
office: JH367 (Carr Room)
Office Hours by appointment only


The human voice is a complex mechanism capable of great expression, producing a range of sounds from basic speech to the highly athletic act of singing over an orchestra, and above all else, meaningful communication.

This course seeks to:

  • introduce undergraduate and graduate level students (non-classical voice majors) to a basic understanding of the voice;
  • illuminate the paradoxes that must be understood and overcome to cultivate a solid and reliable singing technique;
  • teach the student to use their voice in an optimal manner regardless of stylistic considerations;
  • impart a vocabulary to describe optimal and successfully expressive singing, and to cultivate a critical ear when listening to singers;
  • and strengthen and develop (through classroom exercises, clear and simple take home exercises, and individual coaching) each student’s individual voice and ability to comfortably sing in public.

Private Lessons/Group Lessons Tracks

Based on a short evaluation, students will be placed in either the private lessons track or the group lessons track. Students taking private lessons will receive ten, half-hour lessons. Students taking group lessons (small groups of around 4-6) will receive ten, hour-long group lessons.

All lessons will hopefully begin the third week of the semester.


1. All students must select appropriate repertory from the song book on reserve at the Spaulding library. The book is under “Siar — Voice Class.” Please select music that you like; your teacher will help you make sure it is an appropriate piece for your voice. Your teacher may also suggest appropriate songs for you to sing.

2. Everyone must participate in group/private lessons and sing a memorized, juried selection at the end of the semester. This Jury will take place during exam week. Do not make travel plans before the final exam schedule is released.

3. All students are expected to practice singing outside of class time/lessons.

4. All students are expected to behave collegially toward their peers and instructors.

5. Everyone must select one additional item from the following list to complete their final grade:

  • If you are not a native speaker of English and have not passed the English test given by NEC, you may elect to take a listening exam at the jury.
  • You may write a short review of a public performance featuring an unamplified, classically trained vocal soloist. These reviews should assess the technical choices (successful? unsuccessful?) made by the singer. Try to find connections between their performance and what you are working on in your lessons. Examples: An orchestra concert featuring a vocal soloist, a solo vocal recital by a voice major at NEC or another area music school. Due by the jury. 
  • Offer an additional memorized song at your final Jury, from any tradition (pop, folk, jazz, gospel, &c).

6. You will be evaluated by your teacher following each lesson; you will be notified on an ongoing basis if your progress is unacceptable. You will be given a midterm grade and a final grade following the jury.

Absence and Classroom Participation Policy:

Participation in classroom conversations, observations, and singing is crucial to the vocal progress that will allow you to sing a successful jury, and is a sign of your respect for your peers. As such, students are expected to attend all required classes and lessons. Every unexcused absence will deduct 5 points from your final grade. Approved absences, according to the approval procedure covered in the NEC Student Handbook, are excused with no grade penalty, and you will be given every opportunity to make up any missed work. However, if your jury suffers as a result of your absences, you may need to raise your grade by completing additional work. If you cancel a lesson with few than 24 hours notice, your teacher is not obligated to make it up.

Academic Integrity:

This class follows the academic integrity policy as outlined in the NEC Student Handbook.

Late Assignments:

All written assignments are due by 11:59 pm on the given date. Every day late will deduct 5 points from the assignment grade.

Any questions or concerns? Ask me early, ask me often!