Dr Felix Graham is a New York-based performer, teacher, conductor and author, who has presented globally on the subject of gender, trans voice, and inclusion. He is also the musical director for New York’s first transgender singing ensemble. Felix joins Alexa this week to talk about training transgender voices.
- If you want to make your studio inclusive then you have to start with transparency. Singing teachers shouldn’t be afraid to admit that they don’t know everything. Being honest helps build trust.
- We need to move away from the teacher and student model and to more of a collaborative learning experience. The student is the one who lives in their body and uses their voice all day, they’re the expert.
- Classical vocal terms are essentially just a way of labelling stereotypes. There will always be voices that defy those rules.
- Remember, no appropriate terminology exists for every situation or person. The language around transition is shifting because it’s a relatively recent thing.
- Why not use your induction forms to find out more about your students? Leave a space for the student to write their pronouns and or a space for them to tell you about themselves. When you introduce yourself, let them know your pronouns.
‘It’s a warm safe environment where we can be creative’
‘Inclusive is not a noun, it’s a verb’
‘There is no singular language, just singular people’
‘A label is just a way of conveying information and if it doesn’t, then there’s no need for it’
Relevant Links & Mentions:
- Vocology In Practice: vocologyinpractice.org
- TRANScend Vocal Ensemble: transcendsings.org
- The Voice and Speech Review (To T or Not to T): vasta.org/voiceandspeechreview
- Peacock Pedagogy Series: email@example.com/coming-out-again-272ae7e12290
ABOUT THE GUEST
Dr Felix Graham is a New York-based performer, teacher, conductor and author. Felix found his musical ‘home’ by way of the operatic and concert stage where started life as a ‘pants’ mezzo – his primary repertoire consisting primarily of pants roles, or operatic drag – women singing young male characters…or sometimes, the more complicated version: a woman playing a young man, disguised as a young woman. As he explored gender transition in his personal life, he was inspired by the recursive nature of these pants roles, bringing that gender fluidity and characterisation to cabaret and his concert repertoire.
As an academic, Dr Graham has presented research and workshops at home and abroad on vocal habilitation, gender, trans voice and inclusive choral methods. His private teaching practices focus on vocal health and retraining, as well as guiding clients in reconciling their voice and personal identity. Additionally, he taught choral methods and applied voice at Teachers College, Columbia University and the City University of New York, served as musical director for the off-Broadway production Love is a Many-Splintered Thing, and currently serves as music director of the TRANScend Vocal Ensemble in New York City.