Toward a music theater vocal pedagogy for emerging adult female singers
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The purpose of this study was to develop a case of contemporary belting pedagogy for emerging adult, female singers. Informants for the case included Jeannette LoVetri and Lisa Popeil, two well-respected pedagogues in both contemporary commercial and classical styles of singing. Data were collected through interviews with the pedagogues and observations of their teaching. The pedagogues' practices confirmed findings from prior research that three facets of singing differentiated contemporary belt singing from classical singing: (a) increased subglottal pressure coupled with increased closed quotient; (b) thyroarytenoid-dominant vocal production; and (c) resonance strategies involving a narrowed pharynx or oral cavity. LoVetri and Popeil characterized pedagogy for emerging adult singers as similar to pedagogy for classical singing in that it ought to be built on breath support and avoidance of vocal fold pressing. Further, the pedagogues recommended utilizing repertoire with moderate demands. However, they emphasized beginning with resonance strategies such as widening the mouth and lowering the velum. To teach emerging adult female singers, vocal music educators must: (a) be able to model appropriate music theater sounds for their students, (b) understand the shows and repertoire of music theater, (c) assign developmentally appropriate music theater literature to individual students; (d) expose students to a variety of musical styles, and (e) impart a functional understanding of voice science related to music theater vocal pedagogy in a way that emerging adult singers can understand. Emerging adult students should commit to performing in a healthy and sustainable way, and voice teachers should be a primary resource for reliable information about vocal health. Beyond this foundational pedagogy, teachers who prepare emerging adults for a career in music theater must ensure that their students receive significant training in acting and dance in addition to singing. Teachers must also help such students gain understanding of the casting process and their own casting strengths. Finally, because music theater is such a challenging industry, teachers should encourage their students to develop skills related to music theater so that they can earn a living, and teachers should highlight the importance of strong emotional, psychological, and financial support systems.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--Boston University