The value and effectiveness of contemporary commercial music syllabi in the development of vocal technique
Ludwig, Christine Ann
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Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) vocal training has become increasingly popular since I began teaching in the early 2000s. In general, my clients; comprising of high school students and adults from my private teaching practice, have a preference for CCM voice training over Classical training. For the Further Education and Training (FET) phase in the South African school system, there are currently two primary syllabi available for teachers of CCM practical instruments; these are the Trinity Rock & Pop syllabus and the Rockschool syllabus. Since CCM vocal instructors are compelled to use the syllabi mentioned above, they have naturally become a guideline for voice teachers in the development of CCM vocal technique. Previous studies of CCM syllabi and vocal technique for the CCM singer are incomplete and do not definitively address the developmental value of the CCM syllabi for singers of CCM genres. The dissertation investigates vocal requirements for the CCM singer, focusing on CCM vocal development, vocal idioms, styles, pedagogy and pedagogues, and the use of these elements in the syllabi. The study uses a descriptive qualitative research design, and recruits for interviews ten FET phase vocal instructors familiar with Trinity Rock & Pop and Rockschool syllabi. Interview data collection uses semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions. Alongside this, an in-depth analysis of both syllabi is conducted. The syllabi investigation measures each syllabus against their own criteria in conjunction with CCM vocal idiomatic requirements and the physical capabilities of the adolescent singer. The study found that both syllabi have areas of value, but these are not sufficient for the development of vocal technical ability. Vocal instructors prefer the Rockschool syllabus, feeling that it has more substance. However, the research shows that the Trinity Rock & Pop syllabus is more systematic in its progression of difficulty and graded content. The study established that the syllabi alone are not effectual in developing the technical abilities of the CCM singer, and the education and experience of the vocal trainer must be reasonably advanced to implement the requirements of the syllabi.