Geek out! The first Voice Geek conference, UK
OK, I'll keep this brief - or I'll end up banging on and on... (it was ALL rather wonderful!)
Organised and hosted by Debbie Winter from Voice Workshop, the first Voice Geek conference event took place in Colchester.
The day offered a wonderful opportunity to spend time and hear thoughts from like-minded people. I enjoy the fact that there are many passionate singers and coaches who have taken it upon themselves to question voice use and study what is really helping us to sing or speak. I was often told things when learning to sing that either didn't make sense, or I found weren't helpful, so it is refreshing to discover and learn about others' discoveries of stuff that really works. Here some snippets of the day:
Regardless of whether we were presenting or just attending, we were all excited! There was, and is, a great element of "unknown" in voice science/voice use/vocal coaching/voice rehab, etc.
Every presenter offered something that I would take away and use. It was enlivening to hear speakers attempt to answer many of the questions and concerns I had with my own performing, teaching practice and development. I've not mentioned everything here, just the things I feel I'll be focusing on over the coming weeks.
Antonio's thoughts on improvising resonated hugely. Antonio is passionate about the benefits of improv: research shows it helps develop overall musically, technique and theory. But it also has more holistic benefits such as developing more flexible thinking, risk taking and confidence. And what a great way to find your own voice by singing your own song!
I start my high school choir session with improv (it stops the chattering just nicely!) But everyone feels good for it - it helps with listening and gives the singers a sense of accomplishment. I also get to hear voices in a context I wouldn't have heard before. I think choral improv also develops self-reliance in the individuals.
Managing performance anxiety
I think my life would have been quite different if I'd had these aspects integrated into my music/voice education. I'm really pleased that this is being looked at. If we are struggling to sing a particular phrase or song, we can learn to practice effectively and get it right. I think the same needs to be done for when we have performance anxiety - tools to fix/reframe our fears around being singers, and how best to bring awareness to our performing. I also valued thoughts on how we as teachers/coaches/specialists can support people we work with.
Lots about different changing voices - primary and secondary school age groups, mature female voices (post 55,) injury and amateur/professional singers. I know of work around boys changing voices and I appreciated hearing about other groups during the day. (The menopause was mentioned. I'm not there yet, but I'm paying close attention to this!) Thinking about how we teach particular people, what we teach them and the role the brain plays a part, both neurologically and psychologically was discussed.
Of course! Carrie Birmingham gave some wonderful thoughts on hearing and its relation to singing - I will be looking forward to learning more about hearing. It's an issue that, as Carrie says, really needs some attention.
There was so much more, but I'm really trying not to write an essay here! I think the main thing I took was how beneficial it is to continue to ask questions in a rigorous yet open-minded way, the value of sharing this information and how we may all be able to benefit all those people who want to feel confident about their voice. So rather than write lots here, maybe it's time I started my own research. I feel very inspired to do so and many options are opening up to do this.