Voice Technique 101

Author: Anne Peckham | Course Code: OVOIC-140

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Voice study is the secret to success for many contemporary vocal artists. Voice Technique 101 is an introductory course designed to teach you how to make your voice sound more powerful, how to use vocal technique to expand your range and expression, and how to become more confident in vocal performances. This course is a fantastic starting point for anyone wanting to make the most of their voice.

Through guided study using video demonstrations, animated illustrations, and hundreds of recorded examples, the course explores how to sing with more freedom, sing simple harmonies, have better breath control, and understand how to take care of your voice. Each week, you will work with melody prep tracks designed to teach you melodic independence as well as sing-along tracks with rhythm section accompaniment. You'll learn effective warm-up and practice routines, and ways to address performance anxiety, move on stage, and use microphones. As the course progresses, you'll gain the skills to sing in various styles with greater facility and awareness.

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

  • Sing with consistent, accurate intonation
  • Develop coordinated breath support to help stamina and increase control
  • Demonstrate a free-tone quality with minimum tension
  • Establish beneficial practice habits to help growth and development
  • Take care of your voice
  • Use simple melodic embellishment
  • Sing in harmony

Lesson 1: Developing Good Breath Support

  • Mental Focus
  • Breathing Mirror Check
  • Making Music Vocal
  • Health Forum
  • Environmental Effects

Lesson 2: Developing Your Vocal Sound

  • Enhancing Tone Quality with Resonance
  • Registers
  • Balanced Tone
  • Vibrato

Lesson 3: Anatomy/Health

  • Vocal Anatomy
  • Vocal Health
  • Vocal Pathology
  • Vocal Use, Abuse, and Care
  • Mirror Check

Lesson 4: Developing an Effective Practice Routine

  • Building a Balanced Practice Routine
  • Warming Up
  • Technique Study
  • Song Study
  • Cool Down
  • Vocal Study Journal
  • Developing Independence

Lesson 5: Simple Melodic Embellishment

  • Range and Registers
  • Pitch Bends
  • Note Embellishments
  • Mirror Check
  • Vocal Health Forum

Lesson 6: Effective Diction for Singing

  • Good Diction and Ease in Singing
  • Speaking and Singing
  • Vowels
  • Consonants
  • Accents
  • Extra Vocal Sounds
  • Microphone Use
  • Style in Singing
  • Vocal Health Forum
  • Mirror Check

Lesson 7: Singing Harmony

  • Creating a Harmony Part
  • The Importance of Listening
  • Diction Challenge
  • Style: Vibrato
  • Simple Interpretation in Complex Music
  • Mirror Check
  • Vocal Health Forum

Lesson 8: Advanced Breath Management

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Clear Tone
  • Mirror Check
  • Facial Expressions
  • Vocal Health Forum

Lesson 9: Performance Polish

  • Adding Dynamics
  • Use it or Lose it
  • Mirror Check
  • Vocal Health Forum
  • Working Out with Style
  • Improving Your Connection with the Audience
  • Moving on Stage
  • Performance Anxiety Solutions

Lesson 10: Flexibility, Control, Stamina

  • Motivation
  • Performance Anxiety
  • Mirror Check
  • Vocal Health Forum
  • Muscle Control

Lesson 11: The Essential Building Blocks of Vocal Training

  • Practice
  • Patience
  • Perseverance
  • Play
  • Mirror Check
  • Vocal Health Forum

Lesson 12: The Grand Finale

  • Summary and Review, Putting It Together
  • Expression
  • Posture
  • Active Breathing

Anne Peckham


Anne Peckham is a singer, voice teacher, and author, whose work has influenced popular singing pedagogy worldwide. A professor in the Voice department at Berklee College of Music, Anne teaches private voice lessons and develops curricular materials for "Elements of Vocal Technique," a required course for all vocal students. Her work at the college, which has included Berklee's Musical Theater Workshop and the Berklee Concert Choir, has helped enrich the musical experience of hundreds of students over the years.

Anne has traveled extensively as a voice clinician and adjudicator for song and choral festivals in North America, Mexico, and Europe. Her master classes and vocal pedagogy seminars for students and teachers embrace the foundations of good vocal technique, while building skills in rock, jazz, pop, and R'n'B music. She is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and served as vice president on the Boston chapter's board of directors.

Anne sang with the Tanglewood Festival chorus for four years, performing on two recordings with the Boston Pops, including a featured solo in their televised Gilbert and Sullivan presentation, which aired on PBS. She has performed with regional theater companies, has worked as a professional soloist with area church choirs, and performs frequently in recital and cabaret venues. In 2006 Anne appeared in the TV reality series Trial by Choir, a show featured on the Learning Channel. Additionally, she was featured on the children's television show Fetch in 2007.

Anne is the author Vocal Workouts for the Contemporary Singer, The Contemporary Singer: Elements of Vocal Technique, Berklee in the Pocket: Singer's Handbook, and the instructional DVD Vocal Technique: Developing Your Voice for Performance.

For more information, please visit:


Sharon Brown


Sharon Brown has been a singer, conductor, and teacher in the Boston area for almost 25 years. She is currently an associate professor in the Voice department at Berklee College of Music, where she teaches vocal technique classes, the musical theater workshop, and vocal pedagogy, as well as private students. She has also taught at Simmons College, the Boston Conservatory, and Northeastern University. Her performing credits as a mezzo-soprano include many years with Boston Lyric Opera Chorus.

She has also sung with Boston Academy, Intermezzo Chamber Opera, and Salisbury Lyric Opera, in addition to singing oratorio with several orchestras in the area. As a conductor, she founded and led the Boston Conservatory Women's Chorus for seven years, and just recently retired after 20 years as the music director for the Fisk Methodist Church in Natick. She also conducted the Simmons College Choral for four years and led the Masterworks Choral in two of their "Summer Sings." She holds a bachelor's and master's degree in vocal performance from the Boston Conservatory, where she studied with Elisabeth Phinney.

Kathleen Flynn


Kathleen Flynn has performed a repertoire spanning five centuries and has performed across the globe. She has sung diverse operatic roles under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, Julius Rudel, Robert Spano, Christopher Hogwood, Mario Bernardi and Jane Glover and has sung with Chicago Opera Theater, New York State Baroque, at the National Arts Center of Ottawa with the Winnipeg Ballet, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Juilliard Theater, Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center. Kathleen is also an accomplished recitalist performing in such locations as Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and Lincoln Center Theater, Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, and Harris Concert Hall at the Aspen Festival of Music. She regularly sings at the Carmel Bach Festival and is a founding member of the new chamber music group, Ensemble Poema. Ms. Flynn's recordings include, "A Hand of Bridge" and Orchestral Songs by Samuel Barber with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Ovidiu Marinescu.

Kathleen holds degrees from SUNY, Stony Brook (DMA), the Juilliard School (Residency at the Juilliard Opera Center and MMUS), University of Toronto (Diploma in Operatic Studies) Dalhousie University (BMUS). She has performed in summer festivals at The Banff Centre for the Arts, The Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh, England, Tanglewood, Aspen and the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo. Kathleen is currently an associate professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, is a faculty member of the Tufts Community Music Program at Tufts University and maintains a private voice studio in Boston, MA.


  • A healthy voice and the capacity to match pitch and sing in tune
  • Ability to read music recommended but not required

Required Textbooks

The Contemporary Singer: Elements of Vocal Technique (2nd Edition) by Anne Peckham, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard

Vocal Workouts for the Contemporary Singer by Anne Peckham, Berklee Press/Hal Leonard

Software Requirements

  • A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself playing along with a background track and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity or GarageBand.
  • Mac Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, or Safari
  • PC Web Browser: Firefox (Recommended), Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Edge
  • Flash Player (if using the Record Live tool)

Hardware Requirements

All Users

Assignments in this course will require you to use a webcam to record yourself singing along with backing tracks. In order to record your performances with backing tracks successfully, you will need a computer, microphone, webcam (either built-in to your computer or an external device), webcam recording software, and speakers.

Mac Users

  • OS X 10.7 or higher
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headphones 
  • Webcam

PC Users

  • Windows Vista SP2 or higher
  • Intel Pentium 4 or higher
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 500 MB hard drive space
  • Sound card
  • Speakers or headhones
  • Webcam


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Next Term Starts January 9

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