My philosophy of teaching maintains that any able-bodied person can learn to sing in a vibrant, efficient manner should they have an open mind to learning and an enhanced work ethic. The three skills I consider to be central to my teaching include (1) the ability to hear and diagnose vocal inefficiencies quickly and accurately, (2) a working knowledge of anatomic, physiologic, and acoustic functions of voice use in order to determine how and why a technical problem occurs, and (3) the ability to transform scientific and experiential knowledge into practical ideas and concepts that students can easily understand and implement. I aim for each student to discover a true, authentic, free, and dependable voice production through which a unique vocal timbre can emerge. After students have an understanding of functional voice technique, they are often surprised at how easily the voice responds and expresses the artistic and musical nuances they desire.
Singing requires simultaneous interactions between physiological, musical, and psychological concepts. The function of the human voice, due to its existence in the body, can be intertwined with student fears or negative past experiences. I constantly adjust and modify my voice teaching to correspond to each student’s unique needs, personality, and learning style. In my studio, I maintain a positive and highly-focused atmosphere where students feel free to make mistakes. While the end goal of a jury, recital, or production can be important and motivating, I encourage students to focus on the process of learning how to sing rather than the product.
Throughout my years as a voice teacher, I have taught many students recovering from vocal problems that seemed insurmountable. Many had been told that they should give up singing or any hopes of a performance career. Upon much hard work, many of these students are now successfully pursuing careers in opera, musical theatre, and commercial music. I firmly believe that it is my job as a voice teacher to provide students with the necessary skills to achieve any goal.
I believe that flexibility in teaching and singing is key. Through my study of voice pedagogy and performance in most musical styles and genres, I have come to realize that each style can be sung efficiently with stylistic adjustments. Many of my students enjoy crossover performing and have expressed that through cross-training and singing in different styles, they are better equipped as a performer and possess a more complete technical understanding of the voice.
As a teacher, I believe it is crucial to provide my students with a basic knowledge of the voice mechanism and voice health, a dependable singing technique, and skills in interpretation, language, diction, music reading, acting, movement, performance, and career development. I continue to pursue my own creative activities and scholarly research in an effort to further my education and discover new techniques to help my students. As a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the Musical Theatre Educators' Alliance, the Pan American Vocology Association, and a frequent presenter at The Voice Foundation and other research venues, I stay informed of current research in the field and how this research can be implemented into the voice studio.
I continue to assess student growth and evaluate my teaching for improvement. I make myself available outside of the studio by attending student performances, recruiting potential students, conducting studio classes, coaching special projects, and serving on committees. I establish and advocate positive camaraderie in my voice studio and with fellow teachers of singing, acting, and dance and believe that a comprehensive approach to voice teaching can be highly beneficial to student growth. I find that in teaching, my love of singing and my problem-solving abilities meld into something that is truly rewarding.
(C) 2021 Amelia Rollings Bigler. Do not use without permission.