Group Vocal Lessons and Workshops
With Vocal Technique Instructor, Karyn O’Connor
Group lessons and workshops are a great opportunity for singers to gain some basic knowledge and skills in a pressure-free setting, in a relatively short time and at an affordable price. Students who are unable to commit to long-term vocal study can still take a lesson, gain a sense of whether or not voice lessons are for them and learn a little something about good singing technique along the way.
I welcome feedback and suggestions. If there is a particular area of interest that you have, please contact me. If a group can’t be created to focus on your particular interests or needs, I would invite you to come to my home studio and take a one-time extended private lesson, no strings attached. I am passionate about teaching, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise with others.
ONE-DAY GROUP SESSIONS
Basic Vocal Technique Workshop
In this two-hour group lesson, beginning singers – those with little or no formal voice lesson experience – will learn the basics of good, healthy singing technique. Students will learn about vocal anatomy, proper breathing and balanced tone, as well as vocal registers and vocal health. This clinic is ideal for singers in chorus classes at school, church or community choirs, bands of any genre, or anyone who would simply like to improve his or her singing voice. Informational handouts will be provided, and there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and to practice skills.
Please bear in mind that two hours is a very limited amount of time to cover even the basics of singing technique. The goal of this brief workshop is to provide a general overview of the voice and to equip beginners with some knowledge and basic vocal skills. Students who are interested in studying more seriously and long-term should consider scheduling private lessons.
Intermediate-Level Vocal Workshop
This clinic is intended for students who have already had some formal vocal training (either with other instructors or myself) or who have attended my Basic Vocal Technique Workshop and have developed a solid grasp of basic technique (diaphragmatic breathing, overall tonal balance and the ability to sing in all registers).
Students will learn about the concept of appoggio breathing technique to help them make better use of their breath and sustain notes for longer. Balanced tone will be treated in greater depth, including the science of formants and vocal tract shaping, as well as how to eliminate common technical errors. Register breaks will be addressed and techniques to repair them – to create evenness throughout the vocal range, or blend the registers – will be taught. Vibrato may also be discussed if time permits.
As with the Basic Vocal Technique Workshop, students should not expect to perfect their singing skills during a two-hour group lesson. However, this lesson will help to address concepts that are common stumbling blocks and/or necessary skills for good singers. Skills will develop in time with the correct application of the technique taught during the lesson, and the information that is shared during these group sessions will prove to be very helpful over time.
Conquering the Audition
In this workshop, students will learn about how to make the right song selections for their voices, how to fully prepare for the audition process, how to present themselves during an audition and how to overcome nervousness and stage fright. Students will also learn some basics about good vocal technique that will help them to stand out above the rest of the crowd. This one-and-a-half hour group clinic is ideal for singers wishing to audition for select choruses, musical theatre productions, talent shows and competitions (such as American Idol) or lead or background singer roles for bands of any genre.
There will be opportunities for students to discuss specifics about their audition selections (songs) and to practice their auditioning skills through role-play and mock auditions. It is a great opportunity for singers to practice appearing confident and poised while singing in front of others.
Much of the advice that I will be giving during the group lesson can be found in my article Singing Audition Tips on this site. However, attending the group workshop will afford singers the added benefit of being able to ask specific questions and to receive direct and individual feedback about their song choices, vocal abilities and personal presentation styles and skills.
Private lessons may also be offered to any student wishing to have help preparing for an upcoming audition.
Harmony and Ear Training
If enough interest is expressed in harmony theory – the basics of harmonizing with others for choirs, vocal groups or background singing in bands or recordings – I will schedule a one-and-a-half hour workshop on Harmony and Ear Training. In this future clinic, I will cover basic site reading skills that will help students visually recognize intervals. Simple tricks to help students accurately identify and sing intervals in relation to other pitches being sung will be taught. The concept of blending voices will also be touched upon.
As always, these same skills can also be honed during private lessons.
FOUR-LESSON EXTENDED GROUP SESSIONS (TOTAL HOURS OF STUDY = 4 HOURS)
The benefit of an extended session over a two-hour, one-time lesson is not only the extra amount of time devoted to learning, but also the week between lessons that enables the student of voice to practice applying the skills that are being taught during the group lessons. With this extra practice time, more progress will be made.
Basic Vocal Technique Group Lessons
These group sessions are designed to give singers with no (or little) formal training an overview of good, basic singing technique. The lessons are ideal for those who are not yet sure about committing to long-term, weekly vocal study but who are curious about whether or not they would enjoy and benefit from private vocal lessons. By the end of the four-lesson session, students should have gained a basic understanding of vocal anatomy and become more skilled in correct breathing technique, moving between vocal registers and producing balanced tone.
Enrollment is limited to six students per group. Additional groups may be created depending on interest and the need for alternative days or times. I will post more information on this site when the next workshop is officially scheduled.
If there is enough interest expressed by parents, I will schedule a separate group worshop for children ages 10 to 14. The children’s workshop will focus on developing the same basic skills as the adult workshop will, but my approach will be somewhat modified due to the nature of young voices. In addition to singing the vocal exercises designed for my technique, I will select an age appropriate song for the students to learn during the four weeks, and each skill learned during the lessons will be applied to the singing of that song. Parents are encouraged to help their children learn the concepts studied during the lessons.
Below is a brief description of the skills and information that will be covered in each lesson. Each lesson will afford some flexibility, as the students may learn at different paces. Ample time will also be allotted during the sessions for questions from students.
Each student will be supplied with a copy of this workshop outline, as well as a handout detailing the anatomical processes involved in breath and voice production and a short explanation of some of the concepts that will be covered during the four-week group session. It would be beneficial for students to read the information about The Anatomy of the Voice on this site before the first lesson so that more time can be devoted to the practical aspects of vocal study when we meet together.
Lesson 1: After introductions and a brief overview of my qualifications and teaching philosophy, we will discuss vocal anatomy and practice correct breathing technique. Students will be encouraged to continue practicing the breathing exercises at home between lessons in order to strengthen their muscles. Posture, jaw relaxation and neck positions will also be addressed. The importance of warming up the voice will be covered, and some effective vocal warm-ups will be taught. Finally, students will be taught about the five pure Italian vowels and will be briefly introduced to the vocal exercises used in my technique. In addition to continuing with their breathing practice, students will be asked to try a humming exercise at home in order to prepare for the next lesson.
Lesson 2: We will begin with a review of breathing to ensure that everyone is using correct technique. After warming up our voices, we will then discuss the physics of resonance and sound, and begin practicing to feel the buzz of good resonance in order to feel how and where our bodies experience resonance at different pitches. (This will aid the students in establishing good tonal placement through biofeedback such as sympathetic vibration, or memory of where the resonance should be felt while they are singing at various pitches.) We will begin learning about the basics of correct tone placement, (and its importance in vocal health/avoiding vocal fatigue, strain or injury), and applying these concepts while singing the vocal exercises. Vocal tract shaping will be discussed.
Lesson 3: The humming homework exercise will be reviewed at the start of the lesson to ensure that students are doing it correctly, and we will practice singing with pure vowels and balanced tone. This lesson will then cover vocal registration, beginning with an overview of how and why registers are produced by the voice. We will begin learning exercises that will develop the natural voice, the middle voice (or zona di passaggio in males) and the head voice. Particular emphasis will likely be placed on head voice, which tends to be underdeveloped in most singers and is a challenge for many new singers. Extending the singers’ ranges naturally and easily through effective placement, clear tone production and vowel modification will also be a goal for this, as well as the last, lesson.
Lesson 4: The exercises (from the previous lesson) for developing balanced tone in the various registers will be the focus of our time together. If time permits, we will attempt to achieve a blending of the registers, and any other pertinent vocal topics can be discussed, depending on how well students are grasping the concepts of basic vocal technique.
There are currently no group lessons scheduled for the upcoming months in 2013.