Final price for personal skill development-singing technique

For my final piece I have decided to sing the famous song ‘hallelujah’ originally by Leonard Cohen. this song has been covered by the likes of alexandera burke and many other musiciansa dn singers.

When I record myself singing this song I want to have complete control over my voice. I would like my timing to be as perfect as I can get it, my breathing as perfect a sI can get in and I would like to really show dynamics in my voice.

I will label this recording as: Personal development skill- singing, disk 2

I will recod myself showing two attempts of this song;

The first attempt will be my ‘concrete experience’

I will then watch the video back and listen through the song relating to ‘reflective observation’, taken from the ‘Kolb cycle’

I will then devise a plan to improve upon my last performance of this song, relating to ‘abstract concepualisasion’ taken from the ‘Kolb cycle’

Finally, my second attempt at the song will be my ‘Active experimentation’, taken from the ‘Kolb cycle’

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I.T skills

For this section of my project I have decided to produce two musical scores on the music programme ‘Sebelius 7’ on a mac computer.

This is something that I need to improve as it will be useful in my future career in music if I ever want to write or arrange songs for myself or a band.

The two musical scores I will produce is an arrangement of  the christmas song ‘Santa Baby’.

In this arrangement I have decided to transpose the key of the song from a Db to an F major. I have also re arranged the structure of teh song and added a solo section where there will be a call and answer situation invloving a vocal scatt with other instruments.

For my second  musical score I will arrange the song ‘Hotel California’ by Eagles into a latin style using latin rhythms and keeping the melody line the same.

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Communication skills

For this section of the module PPD3, I have decided to do a presentation talking about Brett Manning’s ‘ Singing Success’. I will record this presentation and add this to my video diary.


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Active Experimentation

I have kept in mind some of the things I learnt from researching into Brett Mannings ‘Singing Success’ and I put them into practice.

I have started to make a video diary of myself singing.

The first song I had a go at singing was ‘Born to die’ by Lana del rey. I have decided to practice this song as the vocals in the original song are fairly low and Lana del rey is using a lot of chest voice.

Looking back at my reflective observation of my concrete experience I and my singing teacher came to the conclusion that although I have improved my lower range, this is something that I need to practice furthur as I believe my vocal range could be extended further, resulting in more control in my chest voice and more resonance in my voice.

I was happy with my attempt at the song ‘Born to die’ but I decided to have a couple of practices of it and this is shown in my video diary. I also comment on my reflection of my vocal technique in the video.


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Personal skill development

My chosen field to develop a personal skill in is singing.

Relating to the Kolb reflective practice cycle, I will start by creating an experience of myself singing so that then I can have a basis to work from, to self observe and reflect upon;

Concrete experience

I attended a singing lesson with my singing teacher Marissa Steer. In the lesson we went through some vocal warm ups using different techniques such as; lip trills, breathing and articulation.

After warming up I asked my singing teacher to analyse my vocal ability and technique;

I have over the past year progressed well in my singing. I have more control over my voice, more confidence.

My breathing technique has improved helping me to keep in time during songs and performances.

The dynamics in my voice have improved helping tonal qualities improve.

Reflective observation

The things that I can work on;

It is always neccessary to carry on improving your technique so my teacher advised me to keep practicing my breathing, timing and control.

Taking this constructive analysis and advise from my vocal teacher I will proceed to practice these techniques and hopefully improve my singing all together.

Abstract conceptualisation

Learning from the experience!

How can I begin to improve my vocal technique?

  • Well, one I can practice.
  • Two, I can research into more detail the singing techniques I want to improve in.

So I have decided to research into singing techniques;

I have researched a certain singing technique, Brett Manning’s ‘Singing Success’.

After having many unsuccessful singing lessons from different teachers in the past, Brett decided to start having lesson from the famous Seth Rigs., a world renowned vocal instructor. Seth is best known as the innovator of what is now called speech level singing and the teacher of the stars. Brett manning said that within the first ten minutes of his first lesson with seth, he realised that the majority of his previous training was a waste of time and money. Since then he’s erased all the breaks he used to have and nearly all signs of transition from his chest voice to his head voice. Also he now has a five octave range instead of a mere two and feels he is a very good, confident and accomplished singer.

Brett manning decided to make a tape series of himself teaching how to sing in an easy to understand format. His tape is the compilation of years of study. The series is designed in two parts, the first section deals with the technical aspects of singing. That is , how to make the voice function properly and consistently. Over come vocal faults. Vocal conditioning and preservation and most of all develop the full potential of your voice. Brett Manning says that wrong technique frustrates, agitates and is time consuming. It can permenantly  damage your voice and force hard to reverse habits and waste years of your valuable time and money. The second half of the series deals with style, covering pop, country, r&b, gospel, musical theatre and classical. While other styles are recognised, these will give the general artistic foundation for all other musical art forms. Proper technique will allow you to sing expressively in all styles.

I am now going to talk in detail about what the singing success series tape involves and what Brett Manning talks about.


1 What is singing?

Singing is sustained speech over a broad range of connected notes using vibrato, dynamics and a mode of interpretation. Simply put, singers are actors and singers is literally acting on pitch.

2. Vocal chords

Vocal chords are two muscular folds located inside the lanx behind the adams apple. They’re shaped in a v, if you put your hand on your adams apple and say uh uh uh, that little clicking feeling you feel in your throat is the beginning vibration of the vocal chords. The process of sound production begins when air passes through the vocal chords and they’re brought together and begin to vibrate creating sound.

3. Resonance

Resonance is the amplifying of sound in the cavities above the vocal chords, that is the mouth and the head. The sound is softened or sharpened by the tension and compression of the vocal chords and the height of the laranx. Every human being is created with a god given uniquie facial structure that produces a distinct sound. Most singers use very little of their resonance therefore, limiting their full copacity of tone colour and formality.

4. Vocal registers

There is no concensus on the exact definition of vocal registers, however I feel that our definition best describes the sounds produced. Within singing there are different co ordinations made to make different vocal colours or sounds. These different co ordinations are called vocal registers, which are a grouping of notes which are made with the same mechanic or vocal chord co orndinationa nd have the same sound.

5. chest voice

The first register is referred to as chest voice. This is the voice we generally speak in. the chest voice tends to be a deeper, thicker, richer vocal sound. In the chest voice the vocal chords vibrate along their entire length. The sound or tone resonates primarily in the chest cavity and in the roof of the mouth. The chest voice is the lowest of the comminaly used vocal registers. The sound travels mostly out of the mouth.

6. head voice

This is the voice that resonates primarily in the head or nasle cavity. It is the highest part of your natural range. Sometimes producing a softer or hooty sound while the vocal chords zip up or dampen approximately two thirds of their length leaving about one third free to vibrate. It is much safer and easier than singing high chest tones and the tone quality and malpurity is maintained. When singing in the head voice, very little sound resonates in the mouth but instead settles I  the head cavity with a very natural, effortless and forward tone quality.

7. Fallsetto

This is the lightest off all vocal co ordinations and though it gives you much freedom and requires less tension to produce, it tends to be airy andf lacks depth of sound and volume. In falsetto the edges of the vocal chords tend to break slightly apart making it difficult to connect with chest voice.

8. Vocal fry

Though this register is uncommon it is used by some base singers and produces the lowest possible sound, in vocal fry the vocal chords slow way down until you can almost hear each individual vibration of the vocal chords. It is often used in country singing. Vocal fry seems to be somewhat therapeutic to a tired or strained voice, if done for just a short time to relieve vocal stress and to take the weight off the vocal chords.

9. Whistle register

This is also a very uncommon register occurring mostly in the female voice. It is the highest of all registers. When singing in whistle voice the vocal chords zip up almost their entire length leaving only a small opening free to vibrate.

10. Mixed middle voice

This is a blend of head and chest registers. It gives the illusion of singing in higher chest tones, though you are actually singing on a zip up or shortened vocal chord. This is the most popular of all sound because it puts out a higher frequency. The structure of the vocal chords while singing in the mix is similar to the structure of the vocal chords while singing in head voice. However, there is a deeper compression and an edgier sound and the vibration goes deeper in the chord. Instead of having just pure head voice you will have an added presence and mixture of chest which is a deeper edgier sound. In this program this voice will be referred to as the mix.

This is the sound that is used by most grammy award winning singers today when they sing in their upper registers.

11. Disconnect break

A break is any sudden change eruption or shift in tone production. Usually from chest to fslcetto or falcetto to chest but sometimes from chest to head voice. Breaks are commonly used in yodelling as a style or an r&b style. However many or most breaks are accidental or crutches used stylistically to cover up a singer lack of ability to co ordinate between vocal registers.

12. Bridge passage area

This is what many singers refer to as their break, but this is only because they need a change in their thinking and a change in their approach. The bridge is the part of your range where you begin to blend registers. The basis first bridge is approximately a b flat, b below middle c. the baratone tenors first bridge is e, f ,f sharp above middle c. the altos bridge is about the same as the tenors first bridge. The saprano’s first bridge is a, b flat, b above middle c. the second bridge is about a half octave above the first and the third bridge about a half octave above the second until in some voices you pass through as many as four to five bridges. Your focus is not on the bridges when you sing. Your vocal chords simply make the adjustment as you sing higher into your range. This adjustment is the zipping up of the vocal chords from the usage of the whoel chord to approximately  one third of the chord over the first bridge. Then at the second bridge zipping up further so that about one forth of the vocal chords are being used. Every time a singer passes through a bridge the tone travels higher into the head or nasle cavity and less out of the mouth.

13. Larynx

This is commonly known as the voice box, it is the organ at the top of the windpipe or trackier. The vocal chords and the muscles responsible for co ordinating them are located inside the larynx. The swallowing muscles and the muscles that interfere with easy vocal chord vibration are located on the outside of the larynx and are called the outer muscles of the larynx. The adams apple is the part of the larynx that tends to protrude in the front top part of the wind pipe. It si not noticeable in every one, much less in women but you can feel it if you gently feel the top of your kneck with your index finger and slide down slowly until you find a v shaped knoch this is your adams apple.

14. Vibrato

Vibrato is an assolation and a pitch that is sung or a variation. Its like atrill so if you start slowly and speed up. We have exercises that help you to develop and refine your vibrato.

15. Stacatto

This is notes sung short quick and disconnected.

16. Legatto

Notes sung smooth and connected.

17. Dilineation

The approach to singing notes in a separated mannor without singing sticato expecially in trills.

How this technique works

  1. We shorten the length or the vocal chords rather than continuing to stretch them, this causes us to blend head and chest resonances together as we go up the scale.
  2. We sing with the inner muscles of the larynx rather than the outer muscles which enables us to use tone with far less effort.
  3. We develop a gradual blend from head to chest voice with no added muscularture for registration.
  4. Develop a consitant even sound with no tonal discrepancies between vocal registers.


How do I fix my break?

Other singing techniques often answer this question like ‘if you want to get rid of the break just give it more support’ which really means push harder, create more tension or ‘yell straight chest all the way up to the top of your range’ so you end up losing your voice. And tahts usually the solution for men. For women, usually they say ‘bring that head voice all the way down’ so they do so and never get into chest voice and end up singing in a voice that has no presense.  In this programme you will learn the correct way to sing and the correct way to sing is to sing chest voice in the bottom notes and to sing head voice on the tops notes and the blend of the registers inbetween, the mixed voice. So, don’t simply stay in one voice, use all of your voices. So now our answer is quite evident, we mix head and chest voice together and that’s primarily how we get through the bridges. None of this, give it more support, bring it forward, correct your posture. Those things help in some cases but most of the time they hinder you and cause you to tense up so you never get on the other side of your bridge to dicover the rest of your voice. Also we help you to understand the system of the bridges which is really just letting go of tension as you sing higher without going into falsetto.


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Analysing the three previous reflective practice cycles; Kolb, Rolfe and Gibbs

Any of these models could be benificial to an individual wanting to self reflect because each provide a framework for self reflection.

Kolbs model seems to be very useful and uses a basis for reflection which allows entry at any point in the cycle, followed by a continuation around the cycle.

Gibbs’s Model is also very useful as we constantly get evidence about how effective or worthwhile our actions are.

I feel that there isn’t enough information or detail in the way the Rolfe cycle works.

Considering all these thoughts, I have decided I am going to use the Kolbs model for my practice of reflection through out developing my personal skill.

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Reflective practitioner-Rolfe

Rolfe et al (2001) Framework for reflective practice

This is a simple model which poses the questions ‘What? So what? And Now what?’

  • What – describe the situation; achievements, consequences, responses, feelings, and problems.
  • So what – discuss what has been learnt; learning about self, relationships, models, attitudes, cultures, actions, thoughts, understanding, and improvements.
  • Now what – identify what needs to be done in order to; improve future outcomes, and develop learning

Rolfe’s reflective model is based around Borton’s 1970 developmental model. A simplistic cycle composed of 3 questions which asks the practitioner, What, So What and Now What.

Through this analysis a description of the situation is given which then leads into the scrutiny of the situation and the construction of knowledge that has been learnt through the experience. Subsequent to this, ways in which to personally improve and the consequence of ones response to the experience are reflected on.

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Reflective practitioner-Gibbs


gibbs cycle

What happened? Give a concise, factual account
Provide relevant details, aims of exercise and what actually happened.

  • Aim to put the reader in the picture.

Identify and examine reactions, feelings and thoughts at the time.
It is important, although often difficult, to be honest about these.
How can you explain your feelings? What was affecting them? Did they
change? Why?

  • How did they affect your actions and thoughts at the time?
  • Looking back, have your views on this changed?


Look at the judgements you made at the time about how things were going.

  • What was positive? Negative? What made you think this?
  • Try to stand back from the experience to gain a sense of how it went.
  • What made you think something was good or bad?
  • Examine your own judgements and what contributed to them. How do
    you feel about them now?

In this section of the reflection, you need to examine the experience in depth,
and start to theorise about key aspects. Try to identify an overarching issue,
or key aspect of the experience that affected it profoundly, which needs to be
examined for the future. For example, an aspect of communication or time
management might have played a central part in the outcome.

  • How was it flawed this time? In what way? Why? How should it work in
    this situation?
  • What ideas or theories are you aware of which look at this? Does
    theory about this aspect help you make more sense of what
  • Could you use theory to improve this aspect in the future?
    In this section, you need to fully examine and make sense of factors affecting
    the situation, and exploring ways to change and develop these.

Sum up the key things learned through the reflective process, the main factors
affecting the situation, and what to improve. This section might include
naming specific skills that need developing, or aspects of organisation to
improve. You might identify new knowledge or training which is needed.

Action plan
This should be a practical section.

  • What could you do differently next time and how could you prepare for
  • What areas need developing or planning ? What resources do you
    need, and where would they be found?
  • What steps will be taken first?
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Extended reflective practice research

Having considered some key points and relevant comments about reflective practise I will now look at the works of theorists who are professional critical thinkers and reflective practisioners.

Firstly I will look at one of the most influential thinkers in relation to reflective practice, David Kolb.

“Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (David A. Kolb, 1984).

David Kolb is a famous theorist who focused on experiential learning and reflective practise. He is widely known throughout educational circles for his ‘Learning style inventory’ (LSI).

His ‘model of experiential learning theory’ is today acknowledged in many discussions and practise of adult education; academics, teachers, managers and trainers as truly seminal works; fundamental concepts towards our understanding and explaining human learning behaviour, and towards helping others to learn.

Kolb’s work is often referred to as presenting the foundations for learning from experience, as he describes a cycle of stages that we go through.

The Kolb Experiential Learning Cycle

The cycle comprises four different stages of learning from experience and can be entered at any point but all stages must be followed in sequence for successful learning to take place.

The Learning Cycle suggests that it is not sufficient to have an experience in order to learn. It is necessary to reflect on the experience to make generalisations and formulate concepts which can then be applied to new situations. This learning must then be tested out in new situations. The learner must make the link between the theory and action by planning, acting out, reflecting and relating it back to the theory.

kolb cycle

Concrete experience

The ‘Concrete Experience’ is the basis for observation and reflection. An individual uses these observations to build an idea, generalization, or ‘theory’ from which new implications for action can be deduced. These implications or ‘hypotheses’ then serve as an action to create new experiences.

Reflective observation

The ‘Reflective Observation’ element stems from our analysis and judgements of events or experiences. After analysing an experience we then need to articulate our thoughts and reflections on our concrete experience, looking at it from a large perspective.

 For example this might be through your own self-reflections or evaluations after the event through keeping a log or journal.

Abstract conceptualisation

In order to plan what we would do differently next time, the critical thinker must be able to create concepts that interrogate their observations into logical sound theories. Reflection is therefore a middle ground that brings together theories and the analysis of past action. It allows us to come to conclusions about our practice.

 Active experimentation

 The conclusions we formed from our ‘Abstract Conceptualisation’ stage then form the basis by which we can plan changes – ‘Active Experimentation’. ‘Active Experimentation’ then starts the cycle again when we implement those changes in our practice to generate another concrete experience which is then followed by reflection and review to form conclusions about the effectiveness of those changes.

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Reflective practice

Today I will proceed to show research into reflective practise and critical thinking.
Firstly, I will consider the meaning of ‘productive reflection’ or ‘reflective practice’.
What is reflective practice?

‘Reflective practice can be effective, rewarding and ethical practice that makes a positive contribution to continuous professional development and to promoting improvements in professional practice’

Neil Thompson (2008). The critically reflective practitioner. oxford: Palgrave Macmillan



‘Reflection is the ability to think and consider ‘experiences, percept[ion]s, ideas [values and beliefs], etc. with a view to the discovery of new relations or the drawing of conclusions for the guidance of future action’ (Quinn, 1998, p. 122). In other words, reflection enables individuals to make sense of their lived experiences through examining such experiences in context.’

‘Reflection, although a cornerstone of reflective practice, Is not the only skill needed. Reflective practice is more than just a thoughtful process/practice. It is the process of turning thoughtful practice into a potential learning situation ‘which may help to modify and change approaches to practice’ (Schober, 1993, p. 324). Reflective practice entails the synthesis of self-awareness, reflection and critical thinking.’

Neil Thompson (2008). The critically reflective practitioner. oxford: Palgrave Macmillan. 31.



‘Reflection occurs in the context of producing a learning outcome that can be applied to a real situation’

Boud, D (2006). Productive reflection at work. London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. 18.


The more work we have to do and the more pressure we are under, the more clearly we need to think about;

• What are my roles and duties? Am I clear about what is expected of me?
• What are my goals? How will I be able to achieve them?
• What are my priorities? What is the best use of my time?
• What strategies are available to me in order to manage the pressures I face?
• Who can I rely upon to support me? Who can I collaborate with?
• What previous learning can I draw upon to help me cope with current challenges?

Making the time and finding the space in our minds to do this can be quite a challenge at times, but it is none the less worth the effort to do so. Having what learning and development expert David Clutterbuck calls ‘reflective space’ is a fundamental ingredient of high- quality practice:
‘Although people are often working long hours than a decade ago, they have less and less time to stop and think deeply. In experiments with hundreds of managers and professionals, less than 3 percent claim to find their deep thinking time at work, and of these, the majority do so by coming in very early in the morning. For most people however, deep thinking time happens on the journey to and from work, in the bath, or shower, taking exercise, doing the ironing, lyig awake at night, or in other parts of their ‘free time. Deep, reflective thinking is as essential to the effectiveness of our conscious brain as REM sleep is to our unconscious. In both cases, we become dysfunctional if our minds do not carry out the essential task of analysing, structuring, organising and storing. When we allow ourselves to enter personal reflective space (PRS), we put the world around us largely on hold.’
Neil Thompson (2008). The critically reflective practitioner. oxford: Palgrave Macmillan. 9.

What are the benefits of reflective practice?

The main benefits are:
• a deeper understanding for teachers of their own teaching style
• greater effectiveness as a teacher
• validation of the teacher’s ideals
• beneficial challenges to traditional approaches

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