Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

E. Jacob Will


Most singing studied and taught before the 20th century was based on western European classical forms. The continual development of opera and its increase in popularity caused singers to adjust vocally as orchestras grew in size and theaters became larger. As a result, the pedagogy of classical vocal styles has been studied, developed and described in print for hundreds of years.

With the invention of both recorded and amplified sound however, new styles of singing emerged, allowing singers to be heard without the need to project over large orchestras in huge spaces. These new singing styles, developed for the most part in the United States, created a need for new pedagogical approaches. In the late 1980s a group of teachers emerged, looking to develop and legitimize the singing of popular styles.

Over the last thirty to thirty-five years, strides in voice science have facilitated these teachers and their students and brought the teaching of CCM, or contemporary commercial music into the mainstream.

Tremendous advances in the field of vocal pedagogy have given the profession an opportunity to approach teaching voice in a different way. It is time to recognize that students can be taught multiple styles healthily, enabling them to become more flexible and marketable performers. The key is the functionality and flexibility obtained with the proper techniques of cross-training.

This study examines the written interviews of eight pedagogues teaching multiple styles and the method of vocal cross-training. Each is asked questions regarding his or her formal education, techniques employed and observations made of both students and colleagues using this method. The resulting answers provide evidence that vocal cross- training strengthens voices to create multiple sounds and enables singers to perform in numerous styles. Unfortunately, their responses also illustrate the prejudice and skepticism that still exists among colleagues, barring the way to progress.

That said, this study reveals that a world can be imagined where all types of singers are accepted into traditional conservatories, music programs and private studios, regardless of the styles they sing. University programs can expand and grow their curricula beyond the traditional western classical modes and accept all singers and styles as worthy and healthy.