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“Vocal Advantage: Diagnosing Vocal Issues (part 2)” by Dina Else

Last week we opened up the topic of diagnosing your singers in regard to their vocal technique.  Let’s continue to exam what James McKinney has to say on the topic in Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults.
To diagnose effectively, McKinney points out 3 things that are needed:
1. Comprehensive knowledge of the vocal mechanism and how it works.
2. The ability to express yourself in terms the student can understand.
3. Some of the skills of a master psychologist.
He goes on to say, “As soon as the student walks into your studio, you can begin accumulating information which may help you do a better job in the identification of his vocal faults.  His stance, posture, the presence or absence of tension or nervous mannerisms, the quality of the speaking voice and fluency of delivery, his command of language and freedom of expression, his apparent attitude toward you, his mental alertness, and so forth.  These first impressions and observations may prove to be quite significant later on.”
“Encourage your student to indulge in self-evaluation…such questions as, “what are your goals as a singer? What do you hope to gain from studying with me?  What previous vocal training have you had?  Are you aware of any specific vocal problems that you have? What kind of songs do you most enjoy singing?”
“Develop questions which are compatible with your own teaching situation, but do give the student a chance to reveal whatever he can about his own goals and problems.  Some of your most important clues to his vocal production may come from his response.
The third and most structured phase of the diagnostic procedure would be to have the student sing for you while you make a systematic analysis of his voice production and other pertinent factors.”
Good stuff!  If you haven’t read Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults by James McKinney, it’s a must read in my opinion!  (No, I do not receive any royalties for plugging his book!) If you have read it, but it was back in college when teaching was a far off dream, it takes on a whole new light huh?  If you are a vocal technique ‘geek’ like me and read it at least once a year, let’s meet for coffee and be friends!!
Join me next week when I share his thoughts on classifying vocal faults and coming up with your plan of action.
(original posting: November 18, 2013)