A study of vocal exercises and vocalises used in selected university vocal programs
Saathoff, Mary Jones
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Vocalises and vocal exercises historically have been the primary means for teaching good vocal technique. The vocal exercises used today can be traced back to the Bel Canto singing masters of the 17th and 18th centuries. This dissertation is the first in-depth study of the current use of vocalises and vocal exercises in university programs in the United States. A questionnaire was sent to all National Association of Music Schools accredited institutions that offer doctoral programs in voice. Each voice teacher was asked to list demographic data, answer general questions regarding vocalization in the studio, and to notate their ten most commonly used vocal exercises. The data were analyzed using general descriptive statistics, and hypotheses were formulated to determine whether a relationship existed between certain sets of variables. The data provided a valuable insight into the vocalises and vocal exercises used in the university vocal studio. The respondents were a balanced group in terms of gender and voice type with extensive experience in the teaching of voice. The majority stated they rarely use published vocalises but rely on simpler exercises that they received during their own training and/or refined themselves. The voice teachers responded that they do not give the same exercises to all of their students, but assign them according to voice type, competency level, and the individual student. In their written exercises, however, over half were assigned to all students; and there was no deference for voice type. The voice teachers are not as discriminating as they think they are in their assignment of vocal exercises. The vocal exercises were analyzed according to musical and syllabic content. The results showed that the majority of exercises fell into the same basic categories regardless of the purpose of the exercise. Cardinal vowels were used predominately, and voiced consonants were used more than any other consonants. The statistical analysis showed that there were few instances of relationship between the independent variables of gender, voice type, age, and number of years teaching and the approach to vocalization in the studio. There was a relationship between the amount of time spent in vocalization in the studio of advanced students and whether their teacher requested that they come warmed-up.