Friday, November 16, 2012

Voice Lessons (From the Comfort of Your Own Home)

PSA:  This is my last review for the TOS Review Crew for the 2012 year (I'll be back in 2013 with a whole new batch of interesting products to share)~ Now on with the review!

I had hoped to finally get my children involved in a local Homeschool Chorus, as this was the first year that the practices were on a day we had open. However, that was the ONLY day we weren't already out of the house for one reason or another, AND given that my kids had a horrible cough/virus that lasted for weeks and weeks, it was determined that this wasn't the year for us. What a blessing to be on the review for Vocal Coach ~ an opportunity for me to prepare my children for the possibility of entering a choir NEXT year! :D

Crew members were sent either Vocal Coach Singer (Download MP3 version or physical CDs) or Teaching Kids to Sing (Physical CDs). I was blessed to receive the CD collection for Vocal Coach Singer that you see pictured below. This is quite the thorough series of "coached lessons" produced by one of the top Vocal Coaching teams around, and it is suitable for teen and adult use.

Some background information on Vocal Coach creators, Chris & Carole Beatty, that I have found on the Vocal Coach website, as well as a couple of others when I was looking them up. "Chris and Carole have taught and coached thousands of singers, young and old. They have taken the best of Vocal Coach around the world through workshops, in private session and now Online. With over a million products sold world wide, Vocal Coach training has been instrumental in developing and preserving the voices of all categories of singers from beginners, to award-winning touring artists and speakers like Dan Hazeltine of Jars of Clay, Caedmon's Call, Country singer Pam Tillis, Cheri Keaggy, Pastor Jack Hayford, Steve Green, Twila Paris, Dallas Holm, Kim Hill, Tony Vincent, The Second Chapter of Acts, Steve Archer, The Continental Singers and many others." 

It is apparent that they are highly qualified and sought out as instructors and vocal coaches, so to have this resource to use in our own home is rather amazing.

The Vocal Coach Singer includes:

7 Training CDs:

  • Getting Started
  • Complete Breathing
  • Complete Warm-Up
  • Complete Tone
  • Complete Expanding Your Range
  • Complete Diction
  • Complete Performance

4 Workout CDs:

  • Daily Workout High Voice 1 & 2
  • Daily Workout Medium/Low Voice 1 & 2

Plus these great educational tools:

  • Guidebook – Full-size Instructional Guidebook to Ensure Success
  • Printable Lead Sheets – each exercise in our course, plus track lists
  • Personal Singer's Journal (Getting Started Journal & Workout Journal) to Track Your Progress
  • Vocal Coach Song Evaluation – Evaluation form to enable you to make more intelligent song selections

From their Teaching Style and Method page: “So What does Vocal Coach teach?” you may be wondering. Good voice technique based on the knowledge that the voice is a physical, mechanical and acoustical instrument and that good foundations will equip you to sing any style you can honestly relate to.

Some of the highlights that I'd like to mention~ 
The foundational lessons included in the first 3 instructional CDs are sure to become a regular part of the serious student's daily practice time.  Even the less serious student (like my children at this point in time) will benefit from learning the practical information on these CD's. There are a few catch-phrases that I can just mention, and their posture changes (for a little while, at any rate!), as well as their tone.  The lessons on each CD are inter-related with the others, as there is a definite cross-over among breathing, warm-ups and tone. 

Complete Breathing  teaches correct breathing and posture with some physical as well as vocal exercises. This really brings out how PHYSICAL singing and speaking really are!  
Complete Warm-up  talks about warming up and cooling down your voice, just like any other athlete warms up and cools down their muscles as well. Again, a focus on just how physical vocal work is with more about Breathing and Posture, in addition to a variety of other tips and hints on things that can help or hinder.
Complete Tone~ Discover and use your best vocal sound~ some interesting information on the science behind tone, as well how tone feels.

Each of these CD's includes a number of vocal exercises to reinforce the lessons being taught. The rest of the training CD's follow a similar style~ learning specifics about the topic, followed by exercises. 

The Workout CDs are filled with vocal exercises in the appropriate range.
"Two of Carole Beatty’s favorite phrases really apply here. Practice Makes Permanent and Muscles Have Memory. In other words, if you start replacing bad habits with good ones the good ones will start to take over. As you apply Vocal Coach training your muscles will start to automatically become more efficient. It just happens. And that’s when things get really exciting. And, it’s not magic. It’s just good training."

There are a couple of things that I think could be improved upon~
  • The tracks on the CDs are titled on the front of the CDs, but when I play them (in itunes, specifically), they are only listed by number. It would be much easier to choose specific exercises if they showed up titled on my computer as they are on the CD itself. 
  • Regarding the exercises themselves, although there may be a perfectly good reason for them to be in the order given, we found that there were frequently more difficult exercises right away that were just too hard for my kids to follow. I even had difficulty with some of them, and I had years of choral vocal exercise type stuff. I don't have an issue with the "Difficulty" itself, just the order in which they exercises are given. *The lead sheets for the exercises are helpful here for those who can read music, but less so for fresh beginners. They are a great resource to grow into.
Speaking of those vocal exercises, here's a little light-hearted experience for you. Anyone familiar with choral singing, or vocal warm ups is acquainted with "mee-may-mah-moe-moo, "hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee," and the like. I am VERY grateful that my children's first adventures with those and many of the other exercises took place in the privacy of their own home. Oh my! The tears (of laughter!!!)!!! Keeping a straight face was impossible, and would have created quite the disturbance in a choral or other group setting. :) Once they became more comfortable with the exercises the hysteria faded, but it was rather amusing!

Finally another quick word or two about  Chris and Carole Beatty and their website.
They are homeschool friendly, and have a great homeschool page with suggestions on how to implement their courses in your homeschool as well as some Q&A.
They offer a Free Singing Resource Page, which also links to their Blog. The Blog offers numerous articles and even more Q&A. Very much an excellent resource to check out if you or anyone in your family is interested in improving your vocal quality.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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