This Is A Voice

Musicality, training and a meeting of minds, with Cate Frazier-Neely

July 18, 2022 Jeremy Fisher and Dr Gillyanne Kayes with Cate Frazier-Neely Season 5 Episode 7
This Is A Voice
Musicality, training and a meeting of minds, with Cate Frazier-Neely
Show Notes Transcript

We're joined by Cate Frazier-Neely, singer, author, pedagogue, collaborative pianist, composer and multi-instrumentalist, for a meeting of minds across the Pond.
We chat about
-musicality v musicianship
-how we wrote the beatboxing chapter in our This Is A Voice book
-working with spoken and sung voice
-four different types of air supply
-translating voice science into practical teaching (and Jeremy's pet hate)
-diction and audience cues
-gradient in voice exercises
and soo, soo much more.
If you want to hear us shoot the breeze with a like-minded singer/teacher/musician, check this video out!

Cate Frazier-Neely’s website
 https://Catefnstudios.com   

This Is A Voice - 99 Exercises to Train, Project and Harness the Power of Your Voice https://amzn.to/3uSw66c

Singing Through Change - Women's Voices in Midlife, Menopause and Beyond https://amzn.to/3IQ9Kb9

Jeremy analysing the Verdolini paper on Skill Acquisition for Singers https://youtu.be/utNmfLG8A0w

Exercise for the four different air supplies in beatboxing from This Is A Voice
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Po4Jd5pJVYQ&list=PLYDwxiBt-MOUOXHmnryApAumew79wgxGj&index=10

The Vocal Process Learning Lounge, with 16 years of voice training resources (over 600 videos) for less than the price of one singing lesson. Click and scroll down the page for the free previews
https://vocal-process-hub.teachable.com/p/the-vocal-technique-learning-lounge

Jeremy:

Is a voice a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher. Hello and welcome to This Is A Voice series five episode seven.

Gillyanne:

The podcast where we get Vocal about voice.

Jeremy:

And we have a very special guest. This is,

Gillyanne:

we do

Jeremy:

Cate Frazier-Neely who is joining us from across the pond. Now I'm just gonna say a little bit about Cate, because this is a packed resume.

Gillyanne:

Are you going to let her say hello first?

Jeremy:

No, not, not for ages no. Okay. Go on and say hello.

Cate:

Hi guys It's wonderful be here.

Jeremy:

Okay. So Cate, a multi-instrumentalist, singer in multiple styles, voice teacher, pedagogue, published author, composer, choral conductor, collaborative pianist, hooray, church organist, Vocal curriculum writer, and founder of four arts organizations. You've been quite busy in your life.

Cate:

Well, it's not happened all at once.

Jeremy:

oh, okay. That's fine. Wasn't just last week. Um, you're also the co-author of the best selling book singing through change women's voices in midlife, menopause and beyond with Nancy Bos and Joanne Bozeman and

Gillyanne:

A phenomenal piece of work.

Jeremy:

It is.

Cate:

Thank you.

Jeremy:

We highly recommend it. And, um, both of you, both you and Gillyanne featured in Dr. Elizabeth Benson's book, Training Contemporary Commercial Music Singers.

Gillyanne:

So we are.

Jeremy:

Hurray! And there's one thing that really interested me, which is 300 contemporary American works you've sung, which means yes, you are

Cate:

Yes.

Jeremy:

very used to extreme vocalizing.

Cate:

Well, you know, I've wondered about that. It's still, it's not quite the same as heavy metal, but you do use a wide variety of sounds that you don't normally think of as the, classical lexicon or musical theater expression.

Jeremy:

Absolutely.

Cate:

Or even they're different vocalizations even than blues, uh, and R&B um, GRS and expressions. It's, it's quite fascinating. Yeah.

Jeremy:

And it's fun when you, because I've done this a handful of times when you are doing the first performance of something, you have no recordings to go on. The only thing that you have to go on is the composer's original style. If you are lucky,

Cate:

if you're lucky. And if you've had time to work with the composer. Um, and if the composer chooses you for a work, there's something about the way they've heard you deliver before, even if it's in a different genre that grabs their attention. Mm-hmm So I also worked with, uh, grant making organizations to try to fund this a little bit. Um, and that's how I got to work with John cage and Laurie Layman, uh, before she was known as an art song composer. So we're talk, we're talking a while ago, but it's definitely part of my background.

Gillyanne:

Really fascinating.

Jeremy:

It makes me think that, um, Because I know one of the things that you want to talk about is the book. This is a voice

Cate:

yes. Yes.

Jeremy:

You think about you are one of the people who would fall so naturally into our readership because it's so wide ranging and you are so used to wide-ranging repertoire.

Cate:

Well, I, I, I do have some questions about the book, because it's this, it seeming seemingly innocuous. Is that the right word? Little book and it is just jam packed and it's jam packed with things you don't ordinarily find in books about singing. The way I found it and got to it was through the chapter on beatboxing. I actually teach beatboxing as part of a seminar that I do once a year. And this past year, I couldn't read any of my notes. I couldn't concentrate on any of my notes. It's like, I completely lost the ability to teach this. And I was a little bit desperate and I think it might be COVID brain. It might be postmenopause brain. I don't know what it was, but I started looking up on the web and was led to the video that was made, illustrating these. And I said, this is a voice. That's the video. I said, I wonder if Gillyanne knows that they have uh, something that's their trademarked name. and then it turned out to be your book. And I was really blown away with the, uh, language you used the ability to track the pathways of air, the ability to what happens when you're using certain articulators. What happens when you are using the right kind of energy? What happens when you build a drum kit? That, that, uh, was, I don't know why on earth with my background. I had not thought, oh yeah, you're building a drum kit when you're doing this. That's such an excellent way to start. So, uh, I would love to know how. Do you guys have any experience beat boxing and how you came to write this chapter? That's so good.

Gillyanne:

That is chapter that nearly didn't get written, you know, when he came back.

Jeremy:

Um, because just for those people, because we did do a podcast on the history of the book, but just to precis it, we were invited to write the classical section of the book and we went, hang on a minute. We also do contemporary work. So please, can we write the contemporary work? What's it all about? I went, no,

Gillyanne:

we were invited to write about singing. Yeah. And writing about singing meant classical. Yeah. That's not how it is these days because 98% of listeners are actually listening to contemporary. Commercial music styles. Yeah. So we are not gonna write just about classical.

Jeremy:

Yeah. So I went down to have the meeting, to, to do the pitch meeting and found out what the book was about and that they wanted this wide ranging thing. And they wanted about seven or eight different writers to write different sections of it. And I went, we'll write it all. I love that So I came and then went, yes. Okay. Fine. And, um, I went, I came back and Gillyanne said, you've, we're doing what? we don't know anything about Beatboxing. You're doing the research on it. And I went, no, it's fine. We'll be fine.

Gillyanne:

And to be fair, he did. I mean, Jeremy is a natural researcher. You know, if there's something on Google about us, that's up there for five minutes. I'll find it. He'll find it. Someone will take it down, but he'll have seen it. I dunno how he does it, but he does the

Jeremy:

Beatboxing thing was really interesting because I was fascinated by it, but had never done it. I'd watched people do it. I'd watched videos of it. And then I went into what's written about it and the answer is very little mm-hmm , mm-hmm, , there's very little written

Cate:

Well, it's from an oral tradition, right?

Jeremy:

It's from an oral tradition.

Cate:

And, and often when we try to go to, you know, codify these things, you sound like, uh, an academician trying to squeeze it down. I did not find that in your book. though. I didn't find it. I thought I, I, it was just a little bit more natural.

Gillyanne:

Can I say that, I think what enabled us to write the book aside from your ability to research is your phenomenal sense of rhythm mm-hmm and the fact that we both have an interest in speaking voice. I mean, maybe out of the two of us, me in particular and, um, an interest, not a specialty, but an interest in phonetics mm-hmm so I was starting to hear all these sounds like.

Cate:

Right, right, right. Very good.

Gillyanne:

Thinking. Right. What's the phonetics of those sounds?

Cate:

Well, you know, I, I do think that that speaking portion. That's that raises another interesting topic. And I know we could Zig zag forever, but I come to singing through being an instrumental musician, not through being an actress. So the speech component has always bothered me a little bit and it wasn't until I started reading Kristen Linklater stuff, but but your stuff reminds me of that in that it's very specific.

Jeremy:

Mm-hmm . Cate: So when you're talking about your interest in the voice, they're melded together, very, um, cleanly mm-hmm

Gillyanne:

And I think that goes back to my background because there was a sort of a really formative part of my interest and my career, which was about age 26. I started working at a drama school. And as it happens, the head of voice there. So when we say head of voice, we mean head of spoken voice, voice and speech, voice and text was Andrew Wade, who later became the head of voice at the Royal Shakespeare Company. And I was teaching singing and he was teaching voice. And he said to me, well, surely it's all one instrument? You know, what, what are you doing in your classes? And would you like to see what I'm doing in mine? Yeah, absolutely lovely. You know, let's, um, cross refer, let's crossfertilize. We used to get together. We used to chat. We used to do joint classes. And I then became very interested in how we use the mechanism for speaking as well as singing. And I've maintained a lifelong interest in that. Although I don't teach text in the way that an acting tutor teaches text. I love text. I mean, I was a lieder singer for 20 years,

Cate:

of course, of course. That's why I love text. Right.

Gillyanne:

Um, and I think that was, you know, that was one strong component. And he would teach me every exercise we were trying out and trust me, I am slow.

Jeremy:

In the car, I'd I'd have written, um, a beatboxing exercise for instance. And I would say to Gillyanne Gillyanne, I'd be driving and I'd be going right. You need to do this. I'm not gonna give you any demonstrations. No examples. I am literally going to read the instructions out to you and you've got to see if you can do it.

Gillyanne:

Yeah.

Cate:

Well, that was brilliant then that's the, uh, incubator that you need to try out these things.

Jeremy:

Yes. I think also it's the, because we are both practical teachers, we always have been mm-hmm it's like, I love reading papers. I've just put a video up on analyzing somebody's um paper on YouTube, but

Gillyanne:

It's the Verdolini.

Jeremy:

It's the Verdolini paper.

Gillyanne:

On skill acquisition.

Jeremy:

Yeah. Yeah. Um, so I love doing stuff like that, but my question always is this is great. Now, how do we apply it?

Cate:

Yes. And, And that's, and it will always be teachers like you guys that take the science and make it practical.

Jeremy:

Mm-hmm.

Cate:

You know, there's that, there there's that little segue that has to happen. Um, I think a lot of young teachers sometimes feel they have to teach what the science is, um, or teach like your larynx should move this way, um, because that's what the science has shown us, but that doesn't help somebody do it in a free organic, connected manner.

Jeremy:

Mm-hmm , it's the human experience that then happens.

Gillyanne:

I think what we try our best to do is in terms of the science, um, making it digestible, but also showing teachers in particular, how to map their experience as teachers, uh, and their experience as singers, how to map that on the voice science.

Jeremy:

They're two entirely different disciplines, and this is..

Gillyanne:

Maybe it's the other way around. whichever it is the experiential has to be mapped with it.

Jeremy:

They're two, they're two different experiences and they have two different purposes. When you think about a science experiment, what you want to do is to remove as many possibilities as possible. Mm-hmm so that you are focusing down and you get a very clear route through your theory.

Gillyanne:

Reduce those variables.

Jeremy:

Thank you. That was the phrase I was looking for. Mm-hmm reducing the variables. It's sort of built into most ex... most experiments, because if you don't reduce the variables, you don't get a clear result at the end.

Cate:

You know, it's interesting, you should. That's brilliant. And it's interesting because last year there is a researcher at university of Madrid by the name of Dr. Filipa La who is doing research on, on the menopause voice and yes. And she is, uh, she, she held a symposium where she got all sorts of voice people to talk about the relationship between teaching voice and science. And so Nancy, Joanne, and I do appear on that. And I talk about that, that, that teaching of voice and, and, and the arts are more similar to science than people realize. And then I listed the reasons. And one of 'em was exactly what you just said. You know, you can't really separate them. Um.

Gillyanne:

This is quite a hot topic at the moment. I mean, I know Filipa quite well and I am leading a round table at PEVOC in... August. At the end of August. End of August.. Um, entitled Voice Science, Do We Need It?

Cate:

Oh, golly. That is so timely. Oh, that's fantastic. It. Please tell her we said hi.

Gillyanne:

I will indeed. I will indeed. We've, we've got um pedagogues, we've got voice scientists, we've got voice scientists who are pedagogues and singers. And I think it'll be very interesting to see what we come up with because we need better interfaces.

Cate:

We do.

Jeremy:

There's a translation that needs to happen. And I think people don't realize this, that, and the other thing that drives me nuts is when people take a line from a paper and go, this is the truth and therefore, everybody now must do it. Because this, this line in this paper said, so, so it's like, you know, the person in the experiment, uh, when they sang this note then this happened, and then the outcome, therefore is everybody must do that and they will get the same outcome. And I'm going, no, you can't. Yeah. You can't extrapolate from that paper, because that paper was on one person in one. one specific condition or one position.

Cate:

Exactly, exactly.

Jeremy:

Drives me nuts.

Gillyanne:

It tells us something, but it ain't pedagogy. No.

Cate:

Uh, you know, uh, that's one of the reasons when we wrote Singing Through Change that we made it about the vetted science, but the stories of the women, because that flushes out that flushes out the bones. And so many of the studies, now there is one large one, uh, that Dr. Kathy Price did, but most of them do not have that many participants in the studies. And you always have to look at how many people participated in this, realizing that they are trying to narrow down, they're trying to narrow down what they considered fluff, but might very well be a huge human experience.

Gillyanne:

Yes. I mean, case histories are messy.

Cate:

Yes.

Gillyanne:

thing is, you know, if you have a lot of case histories, you do start to see trends if you're prepared to do that work. Um, and also I think for the readers, and this is a case with your book, the kind of the interweaving of that with the other info, it allows people to feel that it's real and they can relate to it and it's gonna make it more digestible.

Cate:

Yeah. Thank you. But back to this is a voice and beatboxing Um, I also found that you, there were a couple of sentences that just all the way through the book that really jumped out at me,. Here's the sentence, because I've only heard this talked about, um, a few times the term classical singing is often used in a non-specific way to describe a number of different musical styles that really come under the broad, broader title of Western lyrics singing. That is so important. There are beaucoup de styles of classical singing. Many of them requiring different techniques, different phrasing, different breath response, different, uh, intellectual, uh, connection. It, I was like, okay. That, at the beginning of the classical singing section was spot on. So there's lots of little gems like that all the way through the book. And I think for me, as you know, I've been in the, in doing this for 43 years now. Um, I I am really, I I've decided to let it go because of that, you can't butt heads with everything, but I am tired of hearing people talk about classical singing as if it's one thing. You know, they say I was in college and I studied classical singing.

Jeremy:

Mm.

Cate:

What does that mean? And then they lump what they didn't get in their undergrad or grad degree. They lump that under the faults of classical singing training. That's just ignorant there. I said it publicly. That's ignorant. That's misinformed.

Gillyanne:

I, think you're, I think you're so right. And you've just reminded me of one of my very early PhD supervision sessions with professor Graham Welch, who was himself, a professional singer. And I said something about, well, you know, I, I want to look at classical singing compared with musical theater. And he said, now what is classical singing? And I said, well, we always know when classical singer is singing. And he said, well, are you talking about Machaut [14thC]? And are you talking about Stockhausen [20thC] or are you just talking about the classical era and Mozart [18thC]?

Cate:

Right.

Jeremy:

Or 19th century opera?

Cate:

There you go.

Gillyanne:

You know, where, where are we here? And, um, you know, kudos to, um, more contemporary research that term Western classical or Western lyric music is the one that is most used now in research papers, when referring to the, I mean, you know, let's, it's an umbrella and so is CCM. That's a massive umbrella.

Cate:

Yeah. And I, and we use, we use those labels for convenience sake, but when they're used over and over and over again, they lose their meaning and they're not specific enough. And, and, um, even that term CCM music, and I know where it comes from, and that was at a time when, you know, all, all popular styles were shunned in, in academia at any rate. So it was a good umbrella term, but we, we have to find different ways of saying it now, because that still comes from a classical academic frame of reference. That term CCM still comes from that. And I haven't found the term. I will say popular musics, um, or, but even that is just, is just too narrow a focus.

Gillyanne:

I think it's tricky and I think that's an evolving field and

Cate:

Yes,

Gillyanne:

it's an ongoing conversation. And I think we just have to stay with it and see where it goes.

Cate:

Exactly. And you know, something is alive when the language around it is changing.

Gillyanne:

That's true.

Cate:

Language changes and that's an important that's, that's how we know the difference between let's say, um, the various forms of English and Latin. Yep.

Gillyanne:

Agreed. Yep. Agreed.

Jeremy:

There was something that you said that you picked up in the beatboxing chapter and you said, um, breath use. Oh, the air streams. Air streams. I wanna talk about that because I've never talked about it.

Cate:

Oh, go for it.

Jeremy:

Um, it's in the book, I talk about four different uses of air four different types of air that you can use. There is, um, pulmonic egressive, which is a, a handy way of saying breathe out from your lungs. pulmonic ingressive, which is breathe into your lungs. And then non-pulmonic egressive, which is air that comes out, but doesn't come from your lungs and non-pulmonic ingressive, which is air that in but doesn't go down.

Cate:

Right.

Jeremy:

And it was an interesting one.

Gillyanne:

You should explain for the listeners that when we're talking about non-pulmonic egressive. Yes. Where, where does it come from?

Jeremy:

Non-pulmonic, non-pulmonic egressive? The one that goes out yeah. Is just the air that's in your mouth. You've closed your Vocal folds. Mm-hmm so you're actually holding your breath, but you're, you are using air that is just in your mouth and you're using your tongue or your cheeks or pressure to push it out. And it goes like this p p p p p. It's a non-pulmonic P as opposed to pppppppp which is a pulmonic P.

Cate:

Right. Right.

Jeremy:

Um, and it was interesting because I was listening to hundreds of videos of, because video is really, I mean, you, you said it's a, it's an oral tradition, but I actually think beatboxing is a video tradition.

Gillyanne:

It's certainly become a video tradition. Yes.

Jeremy:

There are so many videos on, on YouTube, but also there are so many, 12 and 13 year olds making videos, showing the techniques that they're, they're trying out and using.

Gillyanne:

Phenomenal virtuosity.

Jeremy:

Phenomenal. I can't get anywhere near it.

Cate:

Right.

Jeremy:

But it's interesting that people were talking about what they were doing and I was listening and I was going well, that's not the normal airflow that I would expect to hear. So I was trying to work it out. And I don't know whether I was the first one to write this down, but you've got those four different airflow versions. And it means that you can sing while you are making percussion.

Cate:

Right.

Jeremy:

Because you've got pulmonic singing coming down your nose, for instance. And then you've got non-pulmonic beatboxing coming out of your mouth.

Cate:

Right.

Jeremy:

And it's really fascinating that you can do two airflows at the same time. You can actually do an ingressive out... ingressive inwards and an Outre. Ugh, there's my language. Mm-hmm you can do an ingressive inwards and an egressive outwards at the same time. They are different airflows

Cate:

right. right.

Jeremy:

once you get about it was, that's almost the first exercise I do in the book, because I thought it was so important.

Cate:

well it was a good place for me at the time that I was looking at this. It was a really good place to start because you could do simple experiments while you were reading them and you know, who knows quite how the central nervous system works in this, but by doing those simple exercises and following 'em, I was able to do some recall.

Jeremy:

Yes.

Cate:

About what I had done before, what I knew before, which I don't know, that was just, that was an incredible moment. And I should have written to you guys right away, but I didn't.

Gillyanne:

Well you're here.

Jeremy:

You're here and telling us now, which is brilliant.

Gillyanne:

The other thing I remember that occurred to me, you know, when he was walking me through some of the sounds. I thought these are all the noises your mother told you not to make.

Cate:

Yes.

Gillyanne:

When you used to practice making a farting noise and your mother would be annoyed you're

Cate:

yes.

Gillyanne:

Slurping noises, it's all in Beatboxing

Cate:

you know, it's true.

Gillyanne:

Very human sounds.

Cate:

They are.

Jeremy:

And then I always think of them as, as they are the most extreme consonant use you can do.

Cate:

are ..Yeah. And I think, I think, um, I mean, this is an aside, you can decide whether or not you wanna keep it in, but you know, one of the reasons I love loved being a singer, I had to stop singing due to bilateral vocal fold paresis which is another whole story. But the articulators are such essential and fun experience to use them like that and to use your breath like that. And I'm thinking of, of my, my children, when they were little, they were always making shooting noises or noises with their mouth. They, they just, they, and then when they were tired, they would self soothe. They would sit in the back of the car and do that. It is, it is a primal and very important part of being human, as Gillyanne said, to enjoy making those noises and then put them in a rhythmic structure.

Jeremy:

Love that.

Gillyanne:

And it is a fabulous way for people to make music. Yes.

Jeremy:

Yes. the whole performance thing as well, which is even, almost, even separate from music is the whole performing thing that people do in beatboxing because it's so dynamic. It's so dynamic.

Cate:

What would you say is the difference between this rhythmic beat boxing that we're talking about? And then the more spoken, rhythmic text that goes over top of it, what is the relationship between those two things? And is it through these different kinds of air that you're talk air uses that you're talking about?

Jeremy:

Yeah, if you break some, I mean, if you are hearing somebody doing beatboxing and using words at the same time, if you slow it down and I have done this, um, um, my favorite program was a thing called the amazing slow downer. And I

Cate:

oh, wow.

Jeremy:

love using that because you can slow down vibrato to individual beats and um, and yes I do do that. I am that sort of person. The thing about when you hear people. Using words on over the top of beatboxing is that if you slow it down, you will hear that they are not pronouncing all the words mm-hmm they're not pronouncing all the consonants. They're not necessarily pronouncing all the vowels. They are giving the audience cues that give them enough information to fill the blank.

Gillyanne:

Yeah,

Cate:

Yeah. fascinating. Sure.

Jeremy:

is the, I mean, the whole thing about audience cues is just fascinating because we now use the audience cue thing in teaching diction and articulation, because you need to give an audience enough clue in the word that they know what it is, but you don't need to give them anymore.

Gillyanne:

And a lot of those clues are contextual. You know what, what's that word most likely to be within that sentence?

Jeremy:

So you hear people talking about diction like it's a machine gun, right. And machine gun doesn't work. I mean, yes. Congratulations. You're working really, really hard to spit all the consonants out but but I don't want all the

Cate:

consonants and if I speak or whatever, like this, does it make you understand me any better? No.

Jeremy:

It just makes me look at you very puzzled.

Gillyanne:

It actually allows us to process less because of the whole prosody thing, which was not so much an aspect of that part of the book, but working with speaking voice that we use prosody that, you know, there's music there automatically in the way that we speak. And that was certainly something that when I was working with actors and, you know, here I was having trained as a singer working with a bunch of actors, most of whom did not wanna sing, uh, and then getting them to explore using speech. You know, you've got notes here, people you're already singing notes.

Cate:

Yes Yes.

Gillyanne:

And being expressive. Why don't we explore that a bit further? The music in your language is not so far from that music that's written on the page that makes you feel alienated. And that was another very interesting part of that journey that I think shaped my teaching.

Cate:

Well, you know, that's related to this idea of you sing as you speak. But if you are speaking, I mean, I, I don't wanna get down on, um, my native Americans, but I can talk like this and you can understand everything I'm saying, uh, or I can talk like this so you can understand, but if, if you sing only using that place ,you've really limited yourself.

Jeremy:

Yes.

Cate:

In its in expression, which is leads into another question. What's the difference between musicianship and musicality?

Jeremy:

Oh, love. Love this. Okay. Okay.

Gillyanne:

Do you want to say what you think? Okay. Well, both of you, I think, should say because of you have different musical backgrounds than I have. You're much more collaborative musicians.

Jeremy:

Yeah. I mean, I, I, in a similar way, I came from the instrumental background. So, um, although I sang as a treble as a, a

Cate:

yeah. I sang my whole life. Yeah, yeah.

Gillyanne:

Same here.

Jeremy:

Um, right. Musicianship, I think is knowledge. It's the, it's almost the intellectual side of knowledge, and musicality is not the intellectual side of knowledge. I'm not sure what it is

Cate:

Right, Right.

Jeremy:

if you like, musicianship is knowing the difference between, um, a quarter note and an eighth note.

Cate:

Right.

Gillyanne:

Or being able to hear it, even if you don't use those words yeah.

Jeremy:

Or, or, um, pitching or, you know, it's almost the intellectual side of it. Mm-hmm um, and you can be an extremely skilled and polished musician. Musicality does not necessarily need you to read music.

Cate:

No. And, and I know many, many people with excellent musicianship skills who cannot sing musically. Yes. And, uh, and likewise many, many incredibly musical people who just have a basic problem with learning to count. That seems to be some sort of block, or maybe it wasn't encouraged when they were growing up or whatever, but sometimes, and this is what I miss about being able to sing, honestly, if you can sing a phrase musically, they will hear it. And have trouble reproducing it unless you take a very long time to show them how you're drawing out a vowel, how you're shaping the phrase, how you're imbuing the onset with some breath, um, how you're using consonants for emotional effect. If you slow that all down and it's literally spoonfeed it, they will learn it in that moment, but then not be able to reproduce it for the next song.

Jeremy:

Oh, that's yeah, that's really good.

Gillyanne:

You know, I had a conversation with the teacher about exactly that this morning. Um, first of all, I want to say that, um, we've been talking about musicianship as though it's as though it's to do with the literary skill of reading music. I don't think it is because there are many excellent, um, musicians, jazz musicians who don't read, but to have excellent musicianship understanding of harmony and rhythm.

Jeremy:

Okay. So you are, yeah. You're saying that we are thinking about it in the context of classical music, Western lyric music.

Cate:

Yeah. Yeah. No. And I was, I was actually going to bring that up.

Gillyanne:

The written tradition.

Jeremy:

And so yeah, that's fair.

Gillyanne:

Yeah. I think you can still be an excellent musician from an orally transmitted.

Cate:

Absolutely.

Jeremy:

Oh yeah.

Gillyanne:

Tradition. Musicality, I think, is the ability to express yourself through music. Now, what does that mean? Does that mean somehow within the culture of the music that we've listened to or, or that we're, we're learning, we know how to, as you've just described in detail, how to shape a phrase and, and how to kind of move through it. How do we, how do we learn that? I mean, I guess I learned it because my mum always sang. She was singing all the time. She almost certainly sang when I was in the womb and I was apparently singing in tune from the age three. And you know, maybe that's how we learn it. Maybe those people haven't been exposed early enough.

Cate:

Well, I think you're onto something here. Both my parents were professional musicians. They were both singers. And, uh, to have this surrounded by you because they were also musical musicians, to have it around you as part of the, uh, rhythm of everyday life, you do pick it up. But I also think we used to learn it through listening to really fine recordings. And I, I think that, uh, and I wrote a NATS journal of singing article on this back in 2012, I think with the advent of technology and the use of electronic, tools to create Sonic landscapes that aren't necessarily live and acoustic,

Jeremy:

mm-hmm

Cate:

And we're listening to these sounds through tiny earbuds, right? It, it flat lines, the experience of listening and making music so that when people come and try to study singing, they are singing in that flat line place that they have grown up listening to. And I remember once working with a high school age, I used to work with a, with, with a lot of high school and junior high age. I don't anymore. He was a musical theater singer. He was wonderfully energetic and a wonderful student. And I played him a recording of the Dmitri Hvorostovsky the, the Russian bass. And he looked at me and he said, oh no, that's manipulation. He's manipulating his tone to get like that. Nobody sings like that. And I got him and his mother to accompany my, my husband and I to hear, um, him Hvorostovsky at the Kennedy center. And the, the kid was looking for the electronic manipulation equipment. So there was no frame of reference for... that could have informed what he was doing if he had wanted it. And so I think that it's two things. It's not only learning it from other musicians who are musical. Musical, but it's also, what are we listening to? What's the diet of what we're listening to because that's what we become then. Can I

Jeremy:

Okay Immediately, I want to go off in two entirely different directions.

Gillyanne:

There's so much to unpick here.

Jeremy:

Hang on, I the want to unpick Gillyanne's

Gillyanne:

in a good way.

Jeremy:

In a good way. I want...

Cate:

Okay. I was gonna say, sorry.

Gillyanne:

No, it was fine. It's fine.

Jeremy:

There was something that I thought when you were talking about musicality and being, uh, the ability to communicate through music. And I thought about that. And as usual, I go to all the corners, I go to the crossroads, I go to any part that I'm going, but what about this situation? And I immediately went to some very, very fine instrumentalists who can't sing. Yes. So they are communicating beautifully on their instrument, but you put them on a voice and they can't communicate in the same way. And my first question was to myself, was therefore, is musicality contextual or is it taught? Can it be learnt? Can you transfer that skill from instrument to voice? Or is that too hard a road? So do you, is the musicality innate because it's already there in your instrument or is it not innate? It's only contextual to whatever it is that you're working with. And I do have this thought that.. It's one of the things that I like doing is helping people find where they resonate the best. I'm not talking voices. I'm talking life. Mm-hmm mm-hmm. So it's like, somebody will

Cate:

Beautiful.

Jeremy:

And I'm going, uh, I hear what you're doing, but actually. I don't think that style really works for you. No matter how good you are singing it. I think this style works better for you. I can hear it in you, even though you're not singing it. Can you try that one. Or I hear you singing, but then I hear you playing the saxophone and I'm going. The saxophone is where you live.

Gillyanne:

Mm-hmm , mm-hmm.

Jeremy:

The singing is nice, but the saxophone is where your heart is.

Cate:

That's a really good point because how many times have you had someone come to you who thinks they want to "insert sound" or thinks they want to, and you're working with them and, and you're going, and, and this other voice is starting to evolve. And I think that's what voice lessons need to be. What are you, what, you know, getting underneath the layers um, I have this little poem, underneath the layers of lovers and naysayers lives the beauty that is you, the voice that is true. And, um, it it's true. You're peeling away the layers. It can be scary to a singer, especially if they're professional. And they say, well, I have to be able to, I have to be able to belt this And like you were talking about at the beginning, there's different kinds of belt. There's different ways to communicate there's that. And I don't know if we're getting that from, we're not getting that from the major theaters Broadway you know, Covent Garden and all these, we're not getting that. We're getting it at the regional and local level where they are telling singers they have to do that. But if you go to the big theaters, if you go to people who are doing these things, They're not just belting. Yes. Their belt might be great or their cla... Or they wanna sing classically. Oh Lord God. That is another whole, you know, they're coming from, uh, they're coming from maybe, um, country and they want to sing classically that's that's a. Okay. And and yet they live somewhere else. That's part of the puzzle. That's part of the joy of working and you have to have people willing to go with you on this and trust that you might have something to say here that they need to consider.

Jeremy:

Yeah. And it's still their decision if they, if they wanna stay in, in whatever they're doing. But, um, Gillyanne and I are all about flexibility.

Gillyanne:

Mm. I mean, there's some things I want to say here. First of all, Jeremy, um, may I make a plea for ? Jeremy: You may. The instrumentalists who play well and who are fabulous. It may not be that they can't sing, but that they don't sing and that they don't sing well, uh, just the same as, um, if they are used to being a keyboard player and if they're picked up a violin, they might not actually be very good. Yes Yes But that said what you've both said, which is, this is actually not where you live then. Um, it's about them finding, finding their home, their musical home, their expressive home, what do they do best? And I think that is one of our jobs as guides and teachers. And I think it depends why they come to us. And what are the kind of people that we want to attract because, you know, yes, we, we're going to have as teachers, we're gonna have people come to us who maybe have, you know, sung country all their life. And they think I'd really like to have a go at some classical. Great. So you find something that it's fairly easy to, to move around.

Cate:

Yes.

Gillyanne:

You give them that experience, you dialogue with them, uh, about that experience and maybe there's something from that experience that they might wanna take back with them. Mm-hmm um, so it's not a case necessarily of saying no, you mustn't.

Jeremy:

But you're talking gradient. You're talking, you're talking steps towards, rather than, and now you are going to change career.

Cate:

Yes. Yes.

Gillyanne:

I mean, I I've had someone that I worked with a long term ago, who I think was a, a cruise singer or something like that, you know, much more of a, kind of a crooner, easy listening,

Cate:

right.

Gillyanne:

Young man, uh, very good at imitation. And of course, you know, with all this stuff, like the voice and everything, and Britain's got talent, um, he wanted to sing like Pavarotti. And so he picked up Nessun Dorma and actually he didn't do a bad job of it. So, um, you know, he, he'd gone off to one of the leading conservatoires here in the UK to have a lesson with someone. And the response was, I don't wanna hear that he did not even give him a chance. And ripping the music up. Yeah. Ripping the music up. And this guy had paid for that lesson and he came to me and I just thought that was tragic. You know, I, I don't think either side, either the popular music teachers or, or the MT or the classical, just to name three, um, typical genres. I don't think any of us really has the right to do that. If we don't want to teach that person, then we say, do you know what? I let's do some work together and I I'll refer you on.

Cate:

yes What, and I think what you're talking about, and, and I, I don't mean to be flip when I talk about somebody who wants to do she, she's a country singer who wants to do classical. I think what we're talking about here is the ability to manage expectations.

Jeremy:

Mm-hmm . Cate: Manage expectations. Managing expectations is a very tricky but valuable skill because you want to encourage, you want to give them a taste of something else you want to maybe open up new horizons in them. Not that they're going to go sing that, but for their own sense of groundedness in self, um, but then managing the expectation is another whole thing. And, and you, you have to be able to explain to them in a kind way, well, we're going to be working with this because your body, mind and heart are not ready to handle this. As a matter of fact, you know, I've mentioned this before. I appear occasionally on my, my son, Adam Neely's YouTube channel. He has the largest jazz music education and gig channel, uh, on the internet right now. And we were talking about this managing expectations and and what that comes down to is realizing that yes, because you have the experience because you have this because you have that, doesn't make you the boss of them. You're still with that student. You're still in a collaborative vein. And if you are not, you need to accept that about yourself and find a way to not ruin someone else's life, because you, you expect X, Y, Z. Does that make any sense?

Gillyanne:

It's about...

Jeremy:

It does.

Gillyanne:

Understanding the difference between your expectations and what the client brings, and being honest about that. I mean, it, it is a form of boundaries and understanding boundaries, and being client led and, and also having the courage, if, you know, someone comes to you and really all they want is to have you hold the space for them to enjoy singing. If that's not your bag, not mine, then, um, you, you know, someone who does right

Cate:

Z. does that make any sense? Yes. right

Gillyanne:

and encourage them to, to move on and you're absolutely right. You don't, you don't ruin someone's life and their expectations and, and their dreams. Um, I think it it's something we talk about a lot with our teachers. Isn't it?

Jeremy:

It is. It is. There's..

Gillyanne:

Managing expectations.

Jeremy:

There's a decision making process though. Yeah. That is, that is absolutely implicit in this, which is if somebody comes to you for a lesson and they say, I want to do X, um, and that X is a very high flying something and they are not up to the standard that you would normally expect for that high flying whatever it is, it's still not your responsibility to say, no, you can't.

Cate:

Right.

Jeremy:

Because you aren't in charge of that job.

Cate:

Right.

Jeremy:

You're in charge of your studio and you can decide whether you wanna work with that person or not. And you can decide whether you wanna say, uh, let's break this down or let's, let's build up to it. Or however it is that you want to do that, but you can't say you won't, or you are never mm-hmm because you are not in charge of everybody else. And it, it it's happened so much to me that I've, somebody's come in and I've thought they've gone for an audition, because I do a lot of audition coaching and I've thought, well, I'm not sure that that the panel are gonna like that because it doesn't match with my experience of doing that show.

Cate:

Right.

Jeremy:

And it's a different director and they get the recalls and they get down to the final two and I'm going, Hey, I got it wrong. So I know that I can't say that thing will not happen because I'm not in charge of it. Okay. So if people want to talk to you, if they want to find out about you, how do they get hold of you?

Cate:

Well, my website is Cate C a T E FN studios.com CATEFNStudios. And my email is Cate CATEFN@gmail.com. You can also read more about our book Singing Through Change at SingingThroughChange.com. There's lots of interviews and resources for, uh, women in singing in midlife and beyond there. But I, I must say I really enjoyed this wide ranging conversation because I just don't wanna be known as the menopause lady. Yeah. Understood. Thank you.

Jeremy:

You have a much more eclectic life.

Cate:

So so thank you.

Jeremy:

Thank you, Cate. That's brilliant. A podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher. This is a voice.