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Joining Alexa today is Jo Sear, a rock, pop and soul singer, and teacher of CCM singing styles. Jo completed her MA in Voice Pedagogy through the Voice Study Centre and will soon begin her PhD at The Royal Northern College of Music. She’s here to discuss teaching popular music styles, the topic of her recently published final MA dissertation project.


  • Jo’s paper Modern Vocal Pedagogy: Investigating a potential curricular framework for training popular music singing teachers was recently published. She would love to see a course created that teaches people how to be popular music singers. She wants students to learn about the industry, how producers and engineers think, and how studio singing is different from live singing.
  • Contemporary commercial music, or CCM, is a term used by some vocal pedagogues in the US to refer to non-classical music. This term encompasses jazz, pop, blues, soul, country, folk and rock styles.
  • Jo suggests that jazz should be its own category because of the kind of improvisation and musical knowledge needed to sing it. She also thinks that musical theatre and popular music genres do cross over but don’t belong in the same category.
  • Jo listens to the singers that her students want to emulate and then brings them more examples of similar artists who they may not have heard before. For example, if someone wanted to sing like Florence and the Machine, she’d bring them a song from Kate Bush. It’s about helping students find their style but not pushing them in a direction.


‘I’m trying to be the teacher that I wanted, that I never had’

‘The whole basis of popular music is authenticity’

‘Listening to lots of different artists is key’


Guest Website:

Social Media:

Relevant Links & Mentions:

  • Voice Study Centre: com
  • Royal Northern College of Music:
  • British Voice Association (BVA):
  • The Journal of Popular Music Education:
  • Modern Vocal Pedagogy: Investigating a potential curricular framework for training popular music singing teachers by Joanna Sear
  • Jeanie LoVetri and Somatic Voicework:
  • This is a Voice by Jeremy Fisher & Gillyanne Kayes
  • Books by John Henny: Teaching Contemporary Singing; Voice Teacher Influencer; Beginning Singing
  • Jo Thompson Singing Coach:
  • Yvie Burnett:
  • Kim Chandler:
  • Singing Teachers Talk Podcast:
  • Dr Matt Edwards:
  • Ann Peckham: Vocal Workouts for the Contemporary Singer
  • Rode Studio Microphone
  • Shure SM58 Microphone
  • Journal of Voice:
  • The work of Heidi Moss Erickson:
  • The Musician’s Mind: Teaching, Learning and Performance in the Age of Brain Science by Lynn Helding, Pam Ward et al
  • The work of Dr Trineice Robinson-Martin:
  • BAST Interview Article with Dr Trineice Robinson-Martin: How to Nurture a Singer’s Authentic Voice:
  • Podcast: A Voice and Beyond by Dr Marisa Lee Naismith
  • Podcast: The Naked Vocalist
  • Voice Work by Christina Shewell
  • So You Want to Sing…Rock and Roll by Matthew Edwards and NATs
  • The Art of Singing Onstage and in the Studio by Jennifer Hamady


Jo has been singing rock, pop and soul music all her life. She joined her first professional working band at age 21 and has been behind a microphone ever since, singing lead and backing vocals in a wide variety of rock, soul and blues bands, working as a session singer and taking part in many stage productions, including several at the London Palladium. Her current band is Soul Enforcement Bureau, an 8-piece professional soul band.

Jo has been a teacher of CCM singing styles exclusively for over 17 years, working both privately and within secondary and dance schools. She has trained extensively in many different areas of voice study, including the Estill Model, advanced anatomy and voice acoustics, and has taught a wide range of students, from amateurs to professionals. She completed her MA in Voice Pedagogy with Distinction in April 2021 and is a passionate advocate of the importance of training more rock/pop teachers and conducting more contemporary voice research. Her final dissertation project – a research-based curriculum outline for training Popular Music singing teachers – has recently been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Popular Music Education.

Jo begins PhD study at the Royal Northern College of Music in September 2023 on the institution’s Music Education pathway. She is a member of APME and the British Voice Association and has presented for the BVA on several occasions.

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