In September 2009 I began my Ph.D. in Music at York University, Toronto. It was an adventure to say the least, and like a home renovation, it took double the length of time and cost me much more money (in salary lost and other expensews) than I ever expected. I defended the document in November 2015 and the degree will FINALLY be awarded in 2016. You will now be required to address me as Dr. G (just kidding…Doc is completely fine. Let the bowing and scraping begin).
Jazz theory for singers:
Although I began researching rhythm and singers’ alleged lack thereof, I quickly came to realize that struggling with rhythm is just a small part of the overall reason of why singers often have a difficult time with their repertoire. If a singer chooses to take “singing lessons,” more often than not the private teacher uses classical material and devotes the lion’s share of time to technique, melody, and lyric interpretation. It is only when said singer decides to concentrate on contemporary material, and especially jazz, that the deficiency in theory and aural skills rears its ugly head and causes all sorts of problems. These “problems” of which I speak include: getting lost in the form during the instrumental solos; re-entering at the wrong time; not re-entering at all and then looking to the instrumentalists for some sort of hint; entering on the wrong pitch; losing connection to the ongoing pulse; singing the melody as it’s written; changing the melody but removing the “cool” notes; etc.
I decided that my research would concentrate on developing a short jazz theory basics course for singers. The course assumes some knowledge (or at least familiarity) with a jazz lead sheet, and introduces the student to scale and chord construction and chart analysis. The course combines theoretical knowledge with a great deal of singing and aural skills training.
I have taught these classes at the DeWaal Music School, as well as on a private basis in a group format.
Please be in touch with me if you would like to register for the next session.
Other areas of vocal research include:
- an investigation into the typical lesson format in a jazz voice lesson in contrast to what occurs during an instrumental lesson.
- extended annotated bibliography of jazz voice resource material for use in the home studio.
- Analysis of Sippie Wallace (classic blues singer from the 1920s) and her influence on Bonnie Raitt
- Somatic™ bodywork and contemporary commercial vocal pedagogy
- A publication in the Journal of Singing (formerly the NATS Journal) that speaks to my teaching philosophy and style
Click on the above research titles to read the full paper.