Essentials of Teaching Contemporary Voice


Authored by Clare McLeod


Course Code: OVOIC-245

Next Semester Starts
June 27, 2022

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


In Essentials of Teaching Contemporary Voice you’ll investigate teaching and learning voice and explore practical strategies for facilitating singers’ learning to produce sound effectively. This course will expand your knowledge of voice, developing your ability to see voice through a functional and artistic lens, and protecting the health and integrity of the vocal learner.

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We will begin and end this course by examining the professional aspects of teaching voice, which includes how to set up a teaching studio, establish pricing policies, and identify your ideal student.

You will examine anatomy and physiology with a focus on efficiency and consideration of differing requirements across genres. You will also learn how different components of vocal sound (vocal fold contact, resonance, articulation) are utilized by singers to support their artistry in specific ways. You will apply that knowledge to facilitate change when addressing practical issues singers commonly encounter.

We will also discuss acoustics and use voice analysis software as singers learn to hear and feel their voices. This software will enable you to see and demonstrate measurable changes in sound.

We will also address pedagogical issues for teaching voice. These include types of instruction, lesson structure, effective feedback, assessing students, choice of exercises and repertoire, motivation and support of student goals, and more. Throughout the course, you will develop and refine a philosophy to use in your future teaching.

This course will cover current research and will emphasize a variety of genres and a diverse set of singers and voice users. This course will not only help you become a more effective voice teacher, but a more knowledgeable singer, equipped with tools to meet the range of vocal tasks.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify the structures of the larynx and vocal tract
  • Describe the contribution of the structures of singing to vocal function
  • Apply knowledge of vocal function to vocal goals of students
  • Interpret common vocal terms through an evidence-based approach
  • Interpret acoustic information and acoustic measures
  • Demonstrate effective teaching strategies
  • Set up a teaching studio and develop business strategies, including setting prices and policies and marketing and recruitment
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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors
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Lesson 1: Teaching and Listening

  • Your Teaching Awareness
  • Cultural Context
  • Listening
  • Anatomy: Laryngeal Structure
  • Assignment 1: Listening and Reflection

Lesson 2: Student Background and Lesson Structure

  • Student Background
  • Goals
  • Lesson Structure and the First Lesson
  • Introduction to Muscles
  • Anatomy: Intrinsic Membranes and Ligaments of the Larynx
  • Assignment 2: Intake Questionnaire

Lesson 3: Motor Learning, Instruction, and Feedback

  • Motor Learning
  • Types of Instruction
  • Feedback
  • Anatomy: Laryngeal Musculature
  • Assignment 3: Teacher Observation

Lesson 4: Song Assessment, Selection, and Interpretation

  • Selecting Songs
  • Assessing Repertoire
  • Methods for Learning a Song
  • Interpretation and Authenticity
  • Anatomy: Extrinsic Laryngeal Muscles
  • Assignment 4: Journey Mapping

Lesson 5: Explorations, Warmups, Exercises, and Cool Downs

  • Introductory Explorations and Assessments
  • Warmups and Cool Downs
  • Exercises
  • Anatomy: Muscles of the Vocal Tract 1
  • Assignment 5: Design and Teach a Lesson

Lesson 6: Effective Practice, Assessing Progress, and Technology in the Studio

  • Effective practice
  • Assessing Progress
  • Technology in the Studio
  • Anatomy: Muscles of the Vocal Tract 2
  • Assignment 6: Journey Mapping

Lesson 7: Acoustics

  • Acoustics
  • Articulation
  • Breath
  • Anatomy: Respiration
  • Assignment 7: Case Study Analysis

Lesson 8: Vocal Health

  • Vocal Health
  • Pathophysiology
  • Motivation
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Voice Care Team
  • Assignment 8: Voice Care Team

Lesson 9: Lifespan of the Voice

  • Childhood
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Senior
  • Gender Diverse
  • Assignment 9: Vocal Goals for Each Stage

Lesson 10: Advanced Techniques

  • Vocal distortions
  • Riffing
  • Improvisation
  • Setting up an independent studio: ideal student, studio
  • Assignment 10: Exercises for Vocal Challenges

Lesson 11: Developments in Pedagogy and Voice Research

  • History of Vocal Pedagogy
  • Current Thought Leaders in Contemporary Pedagogy
  • Voice Research
  • Understand and Assessing Research
  • Assignment 11: Engaging with Research

Lesson 12: Professionalism

  • Professional Standards
  • Professional Associations, Conferences, Publications, and Resources
  • Operating an Independent Studio
  • Career Next Steps
  • Assignment 12: Final Project


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements

Students should be able to read music notation in order to assess and demonstrate vocal exercises with proficiency. Performing and recording experience is an advantage, but not required. Experience teaching is not necessary.

Required Textbook(s)

  • None required

Software Requirements

  • VoicePrint or Voce Vista software

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Clare McLeod

Author & Instructor

Clare McLeod, Harvard EdM, is an Associate Professor in the Voice Department at Berklee College of Music, where she is the principal author of the Minor in Teaching Contemporary Voice. A certified Estill Master Teacher, Clare also trained at the National Center for Voice and Speech, and is a member of the Voice Foundation, the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the Pan American Vocology Association. In addition to teaching at Berklee, she presents voice clinics regularly around the world and continues to contribute to developments in voice research.

What's Next?

When taken for credit, Essentials of Teaching Contemporary Voice can be applied towards these associated programs:


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

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