"I ask them what they can feel": proprioception and the voice teacher’s approach

Fletcher, Heather, Davidson, Jane W., and Krause, Amanda E. (2021) "I ask them what they can feel": proprioception and the voice teacher’s approach. In: [Presented at the 16th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition/11th Triennial conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music]. From: ICMPC-ESCOM 2021: 16th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition/11th Triennial conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, 28-31 July 2021, Sheffield, UK/Online.

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Abstract

Background: Proprioception is considered essential to forming an aesthetic vocal experience, particularly musculoskeletal proprioception or the ability to accurately sense position, movement, effort, muscular tension, sensation of posture, and balance when singing. Research into singing reveals that proprioceptive awareness leads to better coordination and enhances the singer’s overall understanding of their vocal function. While proprioception is also considered useful in vocal pedagogy, few studies have examined if/how proprioception contributes to voice teaching in the one-to-one context.

Aims: This project sought to understand in what way proprioception featured in the practices of tertiary classical and music theatre voice teachers. It specifically aimed to: 1) identify ways in which voice teachers demonstrate proprioceptive awareness when discussing their practices; and 2) observe how, and for what purpose, voice teachers engage proprioception when delivering voice lessons.

Method: A multiple-case study design involved interviews with teachers and observations of their lessons. Voice teachers (N=7, all working in Australia), selected through purposive sampling, were interviewed face-to-face and each was observed delivering three lessons (N=21) to professionally focused singing students. Interview transcripts and observation field notes were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.

Results: Voice teachers revealed proprioceptive awareness when discussing their practices, such as sensing discomfort when a student sang with vocal tension. They also appeared to utilise proprioception as a diagnostic tool when addressing technical issues for their students. Further, teachers sought to develop proprioceptive awareness in their students through physical touch, verbal feedback, muscle release work, external tools (e.g., resistance bands), and breathwork. This was particularly evident where teachers focused students on how they felt when they were singing.

Conclusions: Voice teachers adopted a proprioceptive style of teaching, literally adopting a ‘hands-on’ approach and also asking students to reflect on their own physical sensations rather than on the sounds they were making. Further, voice teachers were shown to be developing proprioceptive awareness in their students to aid in achieving the complex sensorimotor coordination required in singing.

Implications: These findings have implications regarding vocal pedagogy courses training voice teachers to incorporate proprioceptive awareness in their practices.

Item ID: 68861
Item Type: Conference Item (Abstract / Summary)
Keywords: music psychology, psychology of music, social psychology of music, music education, Voice teacher, proprioception, proprioceptive awareness, singing lessons
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2021 04:20
FoR Codes: 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3603 Music > 360303 Music education @ 50%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520505 Social psychology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1301 Arts > 130102 Music @ 50%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology @ 50%
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