We are thrilled to announce two exciting presentations for this Fall. The Brain, Music and Optimal Performance by Dr. Karen Leigh-Post on November 6, 2016 and The Special Psychoacoustics of the Singing Voice—The Classical Male and Female Voice by Dr. Ian Howell on November 16, 2016. We hope to see you there.
NATS Boston Teachers: Please submit your classical or musical theater students for the chance to participate in Dr. Leigh-Post’s FREE November 6th Masterclass.
Submissions due by Sunday, October 23rd. Click here for the application form.
The Brain, Music, and Optimal Performance—A NATS Boston/New England Conservatory Residency
Who: Dr. Karen Leigh-Post, Faculty of Lawrence University
When: Sunday, November 6th, 2016, 2:30-7:30pm
Where: Pierce Hall, The New England Conservatory of Music, 241 St. Botolph Street, Boston, MA 02115
Cost: FREE and open to the public
Public Lecture (2:30-4:30pm): The Brain, Music, and Optimal Performance
This clear yet delightfully quick-paced introduction to cognitive neuroscience for the voice studio nimbly weaves together discoveries in neuroscience with the experience of vocal artistry to show how singing can be viewed as a perception-action cycle. From the outset, practical application exercises demystify how the conscious mind integrates with unconscious sensory and motor processes to unleash our body’s intelligence to produce optimal and even peak performance in the expressive and artistic endeavor we know as singing. Through this further expansion of voice science and pedagogy into the field of cognitive neuroscience, singers learn to take charge, to mindfully integrate their audio-motor intentions with expert motor response. The teacher becomes equipped to better understand optimal flow of information, where disruption may occur, and how to guide the student in setting the right goal for the task of the moment — to get the thinking right.
Masterclass (5:30-7:30pm): The Application of Cognitive Neuroscience for the Teacher of Singing
We invite students of NATS Boston teachers to submit an application to sing for this masterclass. The application for classical or musical theater students of NATS Boston teachers is available here, and is due by Sunday, October 23rd.
About Dr. Karen Leigh-Post
Karen Leigh-Post, DMA is on the faculty of the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, Wisconsin, and has engaged in interdisciplinary studies with notable innovators in singing-acting, movement, and performance psychology throughout her performing and teaching career. Her extensive study of the interaction of the mind and body includes cognitive neuroscience and functional anatomy. Dr. Leigh-Post’s research presentations at National Association of Teachers of Singing conferences (2010 and 2012) and at the International Congress of Voice Teachers in Australia (2013) have been described as “charming, amusing, but dispensing valuable information every second” (Shirlee Emmons), and “whimsical, intelligent, practical and brilliantly communicated” (Pat Wilson). Her publications include an Anthology of Art Song for the Sacred Service featuring works by contemporary American composers (Classical Vocal Reprints) and the recently released Mind-Body Awareness for Singers: Unleashing Optimal Performance (Plural Publishing, Inc.).
Leigh-Post earned a doctorate of musical arts under the tutelage of master teacher Shirlee Emmons at Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts, is a two-time winner of both the District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and regional Outstanding Mezzo Award, and has sung various lead roles in the US and abroad. Critics described Ms. Leigh’s Carmen as “a very attractive heroine with a striking mezzo soprano” and commended the “well-formed supple lines of her Venus” (Tannhäuser), and her dramatic portrayal of Maria Callas (Master Class) was heralded as “brilliant in her depth of character.” Dr. Leigh-Post is also pleased to note that alumni from her studio enjoy active careers, performing with notable opera companies, symphonies, and vocal ensembles such as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, and Chanticleer.
For more information, please visit: https://www.lawrence.edu/conservatory/faculty/karen_leigh-post
The Special Psychoacoustics of the Singing Voice—The Classical Male and Female Voice
Who: Dr. Ian Howell, Faculty of The New England Conservatory of Music
When: Wednesday, November the 16th, 7-8:30pm
Where: Jordan Hall 367 (Carr Room), The New England Conservatory of Music, Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
Cost: FREE and open to the public (seating limited, please arrive early).
Public Lecture with Question and Answer Period (7-8:30pm): The Special Psychoacoustics of the Singing Voice—The Classical Male and Female Voice
The manner in which vocal tract resonances interact with vocal source harmonics is perhaps the most important aspect of acoustic science to be under-utilized by voice teachers. Many of the phenomena it describes in objective detail—including dependably resonant singing and effective vowel modification and substitution—were guided subjectively by ear and intuition for centuries prior to the development of spectrographic visualization technology. Despite the notable efforts of many voice scientists and pedagogues, and the earnest desire on the part of curious voice teachers, the practical application of resonance/harmonic interactions remains beyond the grasp of most. I believe that this is due, at least in part, to the manner in which these interactions are currently presented in the vocal pedagogy literature—based on the model of the spectral envelope of speech-level vowels (the implied line connecting the peaks of the harmonics of the voice). Within the context of the spectral envelope model, we are invited to consider the simultaneous importance of both the fundamental pitch and also various clusters of high frequency harmonics with no practical mechanism (beyond vague terms like “warm,” “bright,” “core,” “metallic,” etc…) for understanding the way in which they influence one another and integrate into our all-at-once experience of a vowel. The spectral envelope model—and the vowel graphs of average speech-level first and second formant locations found in most vocal pedagogy textbooks—may become a conceptual bottleneck without practical aural significance.
Ongoing psychoacoustic research conducted in the New England Conservatory’s Voice and Sound Analysis Lab suggests that the concept of the spectral envelope itself may cease to serve singers above a certain pitch, that the harmonics of the voice may be productively parsed into multiple hallucinated units of vowel-like timbre that the brain paradoxically localizes in the space of the fundamental pitch, and that a well-registered voice may be characterized by the manner in which these units of timbre change (or disappear entirely) as pitch ascends. This presentation introduces simple psychoacoustic concepts regarding timbre perception, utilizes affordable software to quickly demonstrate how the various parts of a vowel’s spectral envelope may separately contribute to the vowel’s overall character, offers clear ear-training exercises to refine our ability to perceive the voice (and aurally locate the actual fundamental harmonic), and suggests new predictive and nuanced visual and aural models for teaching resonances and registration in the vocal pedagogy classroom.
About Dr. Ian Howell
Praised by the New York Daily News for his “rich voice, capable of great dramatic force,” and San Francisco Classical Voice for the “heart at the core of his soulful sound,” Ian Howell sings with a warm and seamless tone rarely heard from countertenors. He has sung with Florentine Opera, New York City Opera, and Opera London, and with most major North American baroque orchestras. Especially sought after in the works of Bach and Handel, Dr. Howell has recorded for the American Bach Soloists, Warner Classics, Rhino, and Gothic labels. His debut solo CD, 1685 and the Art of Ian Howell with The American Bach Soloists features repertory by Domenico Scarlatti, J.S. Bach, and G.F. Handel. He can also be heard with the all male chamber choir Chanticleer on one DVD and eight CDs, including the GRAMMY AWARD winning Lamentations and Praises and the GRAMMY nominated Our American Journey. Dr. Howell holds degrees in music from Yale and Capital Universities, and the New England Conservatory of Music where he currently teaches voice and vocal pedagogy and directs research in the NEC Voice and Sound Analysis Laboratory. He has presented his original research—which focuses on practical applications of a timbre-based framework for hearing vocal registration events—at both the Pan American Vocology Association’s international symposium (2015) and the NATS national convention (2016).
For more information, please visit: http://necmusic.edu/faculty/ian-howell