In our inaugural podcast, BAST founder, Line Hilton, talks to BAST Trainer, Kaya Herstad Carney. They discuss her singing journey, becoming a singing teacher (by being thrown in at the deep end). How her MA helped her teaching, working with choirs, teaching technique in a classroom setting. And how working with people recovering from addiction taught her a humbling lesson. Kaya asks Line how she would deal with a student who was getting inaccurate advice and teaching from another singing teacher.
Line and Kaya answer a BAST Grad’s question ” Can we look at how to apply exercises to songs? In other words, how can we help our students to work on their songs via scales, vowels etc. What should we look for in the song to choose the right exercises? And how can we help them perform the song? Use of dynamics, telling the story of the song etc.”
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LIPA (Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts: lipa.ac.uk
Mindset: Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential by Carol Dweck: amazon.co.uk/Mindset-Updated-Changing-Fulfil-Potential/dp/147213995X/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=mindset&qid=1623422136&s=books&sr=1-1
The Art of Asking: How I learned to stop worrying and let people help. Amanda Palmer: amazon.co.uk/Art-Asking-learned-worrying-people/dp/0349408092
Actions: The Actor’s Thesaurus by Marina Caldarone and Maggie Lloyd-Williams: amazon.co.uk/Actions-Actors-Thesaurus-Marina-Caldarone/dp/1854596748
Episode 1 Getting started by getting thrown in the deep end with Kaya Herstad Carney
singing, students, teachers, people, bit, singer, teaching, voice, exercises, vowel, thought, learn, working, song, bast, sing, octave, music, vocal, point
Kaya Herstad-Carney, Line Hilton
Kaya Herstad-Carney 00:07
Hello, and welcome to the very first BAST webinar. I’m so excited to be delivering this. It’s giving me a chance to geek out with other singing teachers and explore and discuss and have conversations. Hopefully laugh, maybe more like cry about our experiences as being a singing teacher. My name is Line Hilton. I’m the founder and creator of the BAST 20 hour training course for people who want to become singing teachers. This podcast is for you guys as well. I want to make sure that you’re getting the information that you need, and that we’re creating a great supportive community for you. So that you can teach with confidence and enjoyment. And in the security of knowing that you’ve got people who can help you along the way, stuff that I probably didn’t have as much as I would have liked to in the beginning. My first guest is Kaya Herstad-Carney. She’s one of the BAST trainers. A nd she’s a fantastic singer, teacher, educator, very inspiring person. She loves working with choirs, she teaches at the Academy of Contemporary Music as a lecturer there in the development side. She also has her own one to one studio. And she has had a very interesting journey as a singer and also as a teacher, and she’s going to share some of that with us. So sit back and enjoy our conversation. I hope you get inspired that you learn something I know I did. Also, hang out for at the end where we actually answer a question from one of the BAST members. And if you have any questions that you’d like answered, doesn’t matter what it’s about with regard to singing or teaching, then make sure that you post your questions so that we can deal with it in the next podcast. Okay, so let’s get into it.
Line Hilton 02:04
So, welcome, Kaya.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 02:06
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Line Hilton 02:09
I thought I’d start with some questions about singing because obviously, we’ve all come to this point in our careers as teachers, because actually, we started off as singers. And I think it’s easy to forget that sometimes. So I wanted to also focus on that aspect, you know, when I had my discussion with the teachers, because obviously, this is what initially drives us is the fact that we are singers, and may still be singing or wanting to sing. So I’d really love to hear the story behind how you got started as a singer and what journey you’d you’ve taken in that path.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 02:47
Right? So I don’t remember not singing. And like I literally have tapes of me. The Christmas before I turned one a couple of weeks later, singing the Christmas songs in tune but I couldn’t speak pure. I didn’t say the right words. So I literally have always sung. My dad’s sung a lot around us growing up and family parties are always around music and singing. But it wasn’t necessarily a career, it was something I think in no way, people are generally quite sensible and it’s not necessarily something you can be. So it was something I just always got loads of joy from and, and I was doing a lot of creative writing as well on the other side, but I hadn’t actually put the two together until I became above sort of 14, 16 and I was like, oh I write and I do singing. And I started writing my own music. And at this point, again, it was not necessarily a career, it was a way of getting through difficult times it was through digesting emotions, both singing others and my own material. And somewhere along the lines, I managed to do a kind of we have something in Norway called Folkehøgskole which is directly translate to folk High School, but it’s a residential gap year type school. So you basically just live there for a year. And I did music and theatre and LIPA in Liverpool came to my school and held auditions. And I had heard about this male singing teacher was like, “oh, actually, there’s a pop school over in England and Paul McCartney is involved or something”. And I remember like, oh, but… well, my mom literally said when I said I wanted to be a singer, “but you’re smart”. So there wasn’t necessarily something that was expected in my family. So long story short, I ended up in Liverpool to do a apparently a one year course. And sounds like Harry Potter at Hogwarts and everybody’s weird and creative like me, even though there might have been some they weren’t necessarily perfect. It was essentially, I felt home. And I ended up doing the full degree there and stayed in Liverpool for 17 years. And, yeah, I still sing and perform in my band ‘Silence of the Lamps’, festivals. And I like not having the pressure with the band to have to earn money from my original music that can just continue to do that, for my heart and for my head. And singing teaching was kind of the start of that, because I had a little bit of a negative experience through the major industry with the contract. It didn’t work out how I wanted it. And I wasn’t, I didn’t feel comfortable in any part of that. And I thought, oh, maybe I just, it’s not for me being an artist and started getting involved with the organisation and, and thought maybe I’ll do some function band thing. But that was never for me because I think I don’t get to have any way to media as a performer to to not have people clap afterwards. No, it’s a, it became a thing where, I covered at my old uni at LIPA, my old lecturer asked what I, “what are you doing tonight?” And I said, “I’m not sure”. And he said, “oh, could you cover singing elective from six to nine?” And I heard my mouth go “yes”. And I remember thinking inside, “ah, what are you doing? You’ve only just graduated, you can’t do this”. Yeah, and then that was my first into teaching. And I realised, even though I was terrified and felt absolutely incompetent, and probably in many ways was, I really enjoyed it, I enjoyed the human interaction. And I realised I enjoyed it a lot more than maybe the more kind of function gigs and, and the more I started teaching them more being part of somebody’s journey to find themselves and being that person that other people were to me and in my development, it’s yeah, that’s kind of a short story. Obviously, we’re talking since 99. So we’re coming up to 19 years of UK and, yeah.
Line Hilton 07:11
So I found that really interesting when you were talking about your mother saying, You’re smart. That doesn’t make sense to go and become a singer. I wondered… I mean, obviously, for people who have not been, who are not in the music industry, or who haven’t seen other people making a career from it, that is a perception, isn’t it? That actually you don’t being smart, and being a singer doesn’t seem to come together, Same with modelling is the only one.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 07:43
Yeah, it’s not a proper job, right? And, and my mom and dad had to kind of fight to be able to go to university and college, and were the first in their, in my family to kind of go and do higher education. And they had to fight through it for their parents to like, “well shouldn’t you go and get a proper job?” So I think it was always in the cards that I go to university. And eventually I did, but I got to study pop music and songwriting and I think that was kind of a compromise in some ways. Because, expectations when you’re a kid your parents kind of, well, they don’t decide for you, but they they are the ones who say yay or nay at the end of the day, and choosing your education, you know, you do that kind of when you’re 17, 18 years old, when you’re still not really fully. You don’t dare to stand up as much, or I did and kind of, but it’s not a comfortable experience, and I think a lot of people what could have been artists development through labels or through management in the past when there was more money in the music industry. Education is now kind of fulfilling and, you know, I’m working at the Academy, as I know, you’ve done many times, you kind of taking the role of what an artist development agency or label would in the past and I do think it’s changed the view because we know now that there’s so many transferable skills, so even even if you don’t end up going, becoming an artist is so much you learn from doing a degree. Yeah, and I’ve, I mean, I’ve done so many different things within the music industry. And singing is at the heart of it, or music is at the heart of it. But I also learned loads of skills about talking to people and working with people and, you know, the writing techniques and all that kind of stuff but, yeah.
Line Hilton 07:44
So would you encourage if a student came to you and said, I’m thinking of going into a music college would you encourage it or disencourage it or?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 10:03
I would definitely encourage it. Because essentially, when else will you have 40 hours a week to spend on music. And you’re doing it because not, it depends. I also have students who do a degree because they think they should. And they definitely waste it because they might not want to be told ideas, they want to figure everything out themselves for they want don’t want to think of music as, as commerce, they want to just do it for their own enjoyment. And there is definitely a kind of, there’s a battle between the making a living and actually having music as a hobby. And a lot of people I think, go into higher education or even further education, doing like music A Levels and stuff like that, and almost lose the passion for what they’re doing, at least for a while. And that is generally because they are, well, they haven’t thought of it as a job that thought of it as a hobby. And all of a sudden, they can’t put it down, they have to do it. And sometimes that takes the enjoyment out of it. I often liken that as you know, when you’re at first in a relationship, you always had your best behaviour with every time and you know, always look your best always make an effort to them when you move in with someone, all of a sudden you, you see all facets of someone and you’re either fall more in, more in love with them despite or maybe even because of or it’ll break up. And many people come into university to study music, it’s, it’s like breaking up with their hobby.
Line Hilton 11:46
Right. Interesting, because my opinion, is, if somebody asks me about going to college and the benefits or all the disadvantages, I will say it will be what you make of it. And at the end of the day, a degree is not going to get you a job or a diploma won’t get the job. But you will make friends and network with people that you might not normally get to meet if you were trying to do this all by yourself. And also you will learn from people who’ve already been working in the industry, and you can learn from their mistakes rather than having to make the mistakes yourself. So it’s a little bit of a shortcut. And say you could spend ten or fifteen years in the industry, learning all that stuff. Or you could go to university for two to three years, and actually get that information directly from the horse’s mouth kind of thing. And at the end of the day, there will be some information that’s not useful, may, will never be useful, that we some information that might be useful right now, but you never know, you might need it in 5, 10 years time. And there’ll be other stuff which is really relevant to what’s happening in the industry now. And if you get on it, the sooner the better. And it will make your journey easier. So, you know, I think people go to uni sometimes thinking that they’re going to get a job. But of course, and this is across the board with other fields as well. There is no guarantee in fact, there are many graduates coming out of it even the more conventional courses, which are not, they’re not guaranteeing a job afterwards. In fact, a lot of people are still unemployed.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 13:33
Yes, the Avenue Q song ‘What We Do With A BA In English’. There’s a lot of things like that. But yeah, well you were saying me there’s a really good quote by a physicist and philosopher Niels Bohr, I don’t know if you’ve come across that “Education isn’t magic. Education is the wisdom wrung from failure”. And I think it’s a kind of, yeah, if you get it right, then you save yourself a lot of years of making mistakes.
Line Hilton 14:00
Yeah, I can’t find the quote. But I’m pretty sure it came from Karate Kid. Which it the mentor said something like, “Stupid people never learn, intelligent people learn from their mistakes and wise people learn from others”. And it’s kind of not that similar. I mean, yeah, it’s similar in that idea of wisdom. Yeah, yeah. So I’d like to dig in a little deeper into your teaching evolution. So you obviously you’ve got thrown in at the deep end. And then found you actually had a taste for it, which was cool. And there are people who sometimes will start going and teaching and realising that they hate it. And you know, that does that happens the other way around too. But I just wondered, what would, what do you feel you’ve had that equipped you for teaching to that point. And what do you feel that you didn’t have and what did you go and do to go on and correct that.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 15:02
Good question. So I had been working as a ice hockey coach and a football coach and aerobics instructor when I was younger, and also, while I was studying, and so I guess I had a lot of the kind of keep a crowd that, the entertaining versus driving and inspiration. I learned a lot from the kind of sports world there and coming from sports college, before I went, it was a lot of the sport psychology and, you know, inspiring and motivating people. So I guess that was a really good thing for me and I use so much from that world, every day. My first kind of experience with teaching was while I was still at uni, but at that point, I was just volunteering at New Deal for Musicians. And then I didn’t think it was quite for me, because not every one of them actually wanted to be there. And then I kind of did a stage school as well. And it was like babysitting a lot, because a lot of them, it wasn’t the kids. So there were times when I went, “Oh, it’s probably not for me”. But actually going back with more teaching experience to in the stage school environment, with classroom management tools. And I had a completely different experience and had a different confidence in myself as well. You know, early 20s I kind of overanalyzed absolutely everything and didn’t have the natural authority. So I guess, that was a big challenge in the beginning, you know, and overcoming in one way was… I think it happened so gradually, I can’t even say, when, I mean, I did study in the SLS system with the teaching observations. And, and actually, I guess, being observed also, and peer observation and things like that, and it does help with your confidence. So I would recommend, for any new start teachers to actually get their teachers into observe whether it’s by Skype or something like that, and actually, it can help validate, and be humble about suggestions and things like that. So you know, we’re not gonna be perfect, I’m not perfect now. There are times when things come out of my mouth, and I go, “that was not part of my teaching methodology, I need to rein it back”. But at the same time, I love teaching in university/higher education/adult/professional enviroments, because I feel like can be a little bit more fully me. Whilst teaching kids in a more in school setting wasn’t quite as good a fit for me, personally, because of my personality, and my humour, I think, as well, because I’m quite kind of… I like, really dry and often a little bit sarcastic humour. And obviously, kids don’t get that nuance. And I do have to watch out if I’ve got for instance, if I’ve got people on the spectrum in the room who I know, wouldn’t get that side of my humour. And I might have to kind of make sure I mean, we have like a little system where on the register, I can see if somebody has got learning needs, and I can kind of adjust that to make sure I, if I’ve said something, I might say, of course, that is a metaphor. Or, you know what I mean, but that is one of those things, of understanding that people have different needs. And understanding it’s not about me. And just because I learned in that way doesn’t mean the students can learn that way. And if it doesn’t work, even though it always works that way, but the student in front of you just… what you know should work isn’t working, whatever that tool is. You just have to be flexible and find a way around it. And I do find that it’s very few students, I don’t manage to find a connection without looking for their way in. And I, I do actually, I really love turning a student around to a subject. Like, the really, really good students are so much fun. And then the ones who kind of come in a little bit sceptical to actually manage to turn, like light that fire is great. And I guess sometimes the challenge is to see all the ones who are just the good students who just get on with it, they don’t particularly excel and they don’t do anything wrong of actually giving them the same amount of (time/energy) in a classroom anyway, that can be really… a challenge.
Line Hilton 20:15
From a pedagogical point of view, how did you develop your skills and your knowledge? You started, you said you had the SLS training?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 20:26
Yeah, I spent six years in that system. And I learned loads from that, especially about the kind of toolbox, about the demonstration instructions, scales, consonants, vowels. And at that point, I didn’t know the science behind it, I just knew, you know, that vowel is good for building chest. And that vowel is good for releasing into head. But I didn’t know why. But I’ve always been quite inquisitive. And I wanted to know why. So which I really enjoy about kind of being part of the wider network, both of BAST and the Vocology In Practice where we’re kind of, I’m constantly learning. So, and working in academia meant, I ended up doing an MA in performing arts education. And I did three main research projects because it was a part time over three years and three main research project. And the first one, I was working on audition preparation, because I’m working on the foundation diploma at LIPA. And essentially, the whole last half a year, was just preparing these actors, dancers and singers for auditions to music academies and drama schools and stuff like that. And, you know, it was a very harsh environment for them, you have half a year to basically learn all the skills, and then half a year to kind of build them up again for rejection, because essentially, it’s going to be a lot of them. And then you have some stars in the class who got in everywhere and could just choose. And then you have some people who go to all the auditions and get callbacks and just not get there. And I kind of wanted to explore the person. And that has been a big, the use of language, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and NLP to a certain extent, mindset. So, Carol Dweck is a great resource there. And then looking at kind of Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, and, you know, multiple input, all of that kind of stuff, because I had to look into the academic side and start reading journals. Because even a dissertation, that’s when you go to an academy, rather than university the academic side is often, it’s not less prioritised, but it’s a complimentary to the practical vocational. So we didn’t really do a lot of academic practice in writing. So there was minimal journals and things like that as part of my degree. But whatever my tutor recommended, and then during the MA, that was the kind of crash landing into “Oh, right there’s a whole lot of them. I thought this was an original thought, but it’s not. There’s 36 citations.” And you know, I do
Line Hilton 23:25
Yeah, the way of doing your references, the referencing,
Kaya Herstad-Carney 23:30
Line Hilton 23:31
Totally stumped people.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 23:34
Completely. And I remember getting my first because I had gotten good grades for my writing in the degree and getting my first back and it was like a mere pass. And I was like, “What was going on?” I was just like ok here we go.
Line Hilton 23:46
I had a similar experience actually when I did my degree. Because in nursing, we had the mix of the practical and we had we tests, it wasn’t academic, it was hospital based education. And so when I went to university, I thought, well, you know, I’ve done exams and written assignments, etc. And I wrote this assignment, which I thought was really awesome. And because I was a mature age student, even when I did my undergrad course. And it came back at just over 50%. And I was like “What?” I went in and saw the tutor and I said, you know, okay, I just need to know, what have I done wrong? And he said, you would have got a high distinction, except your referencing was inaccurate, and I went, “are you serious?” And I was of the same, you know, I was like, same mind switch of, “Oh, it’s not about original thought. It’s not about how much work I’ve done and how much I’ve analysed.” And you know, it’s actually just about knowing how to put your references in the correct way. It was a bit of a slap in the face, but the next one, I got, like, nearly 100% I think so. I went okay.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 25:02
It’s a skill set, isn’t it, it’s a different kind of skill set. And, and I see the same in my students now I try to kind of bringing it in at degree level so that they, if they go off and do a masters, they don’t have to have the same experience but at the same time saying that and I kind of feel like I did the wrong masters I did it because it was a sensible. And I also got it funded from where I was working. So I wish I had done a MA that was either down the vocology kind of path or in relations to nature and nurture, and artistry. So I think I’d thrown myself a bit for more fully into the educational principles. Even though I’m passionate about it, to spend three years of my life on it, I think I would have preferred to do something where I then did it for one year, and just through my self completely into, but I also got a bit, (and) discovered through doing a maternity cover at the Raucous Caucus Recovery Chorus, which is a choir for people in recovery from addiction. And it was a proper kind of person change for me, because before that, I’d kind of gone us and them a little bit with addiction. And then speaking to all these people, who many of them could have been my friends. Because they’d done a season in a, you know, a cruise ship and something and it was free, something or another and that essentially became their start of their addiction journey. And loads of little stories like that. And it made a big difference in understanding of product versus process as well. I couldn’t do my like, I get really greedy with my like with my uni choir and the community choir. I was learning for 10 years before I moved from Liverpool. I’ll have like up to 12 parts sometimes. And they’ll be loads a like, overlaying harmonies and rhythmical things and all that and I’m greedy with harmonies. But I had to kind of go, if you manage to get the harmony line in there or a call and response, it’s a success. But every time we ended, the session. They would come up and go, “I just had the best of time, I live for the choir, this is how I feel like, my life has purpose.” And I was like, “Whoa, we just sang. Did you hear what that sounded like?” Like, by session two or three, I’m almost welling up talking about. But the second I could completely be part of that with them. And I guess the community music end of like being able to run choirs as well as like, I love doing one to one sessions with a talented young artist and helping them find their sound and experiment and make sure they’re staying healthy and but I also love this idea that music is about process, not just product. So…
Line Hilton 28:12
It’s great. And it’s sometimes it takes time or experience to get to that place, you know, you probably wouldn’t have been in that place when you were 20.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 28:22
No. No definitely.
Line Hilton 28:24
That’s what I enjoy about this whole journey is that it, as I’ve grown older and have more experience, I’ve been able to make adjustments in my teaching and my focus, and business wise as well. To keep up with where I’m at, so it’s just constantly evolving. And I think when I first started out, I just assumed there was this one goal and that was it, you know, you didn’t go any further. Whereas now I just see this huge spectrum of options and choices and benefits, you know, and experiences that I can have. What do you feel were your major challenges, then when you first started out teaching?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 29:09
Discipline? Yeah. Especially in the classroom setting, I think one to one. It was more not being able to help students that didn’t have the problems that I had. So if they had like my voice problems, it was really easy to fix. But if somebody came in and before I had that kind of understanding of exercises and the vocal anatomy, I was kind of, I had, I had a good ear for when something wasn’t quite right. But I didn’t have the tool to fix it. And that I found that very challenging both because, you know, I might just say oh, let’s work on your diction and things that my teachers, I was, all my teachers were in here (my head) and like speaking through me, and I didn’t really have any independent opinions or thoughts in regards to out there (out of myself). Obviously not, it’s a simplification of things, but I was trying to be all of the teachers that I had loved. But without, I guess, the full knowledge or understanding of where they came from. And especially I found…
Line Hilton 30:18
Any major disasters that you can remember that kind of?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 30:23
Um, I think I was a bit cocky when it came to vocal coaching versus singing teaching, because all my experiences with singing teachers at that point had been basically trying to make me sing musical theatre or classical. So I kind of assumed, and I guess, we’re talking back, you know, early 2000. So I finished my degree in 2003. And I guess there was a lot of singing teachers that were, the route was either jazz or classical, or what we call in Norway you do jazz, classical or rhythmical is now anything else which from all kind of world music and pop music. And I think that’s still, when now you can pretty much study pop music studies at most universities, but it’s still with the kind of methodology from classical music, and I don’t think, I think there is a bit of a, some of it is more cultural studies. And there’s a bit of a mismatch there because you don’t necessarily as the good pop singer, you don’t necessarily need your four octaves. So I guess I find it a challenge to bring, you know, all kinds of placements and stuff like that actually make it work it in, (make it) worth, bringing it into the classroom, because it sounded wrong. And obviously, from sport science, I then kind of went well, it’s the same muscles, they’re just used in a different way. So you’re getting a coordination that is potentially not even helpful. Not understanding that well actually is just another coordination and you can, it’s not like you can’t learn how to do both street dance and ballet. Just because, but you need to have an understanding of the genre and the style.
Line Hilton 32:21
So what were you saying, though, about you were cocky?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 32:26
So, I was a bit like, so pop pop music is more about conviction than intention and, a lot of the vocal problems will be sorted if you just go with a conviction and intention, because that’s essentially what my pop teachers were telling me, because they hadn’t had their.
Line Hilton 32:42
Kaya Herstad-Carney 32:44
So, I was kind of calling myself a vocal coach, not a singing teacher. And I was a little bit snobbish, reverse snobbish about the role of a singing teacher. Like a lot of my students are about singing lessons. So I can really relate to that, because they’re scared of losing the authenticity. But now I know so much, I can go well, actually, let’s do this. And I have this toolbox of things that makes them do quick changes, and they’re still sounding like they want to, but they can do it with, for longer, or, you know, they don’t lose their voice after the gig and all that kind of stuff. So I think I never knew as much when I was 20 as when I was 20. You know, there’s a kind of arrogance of being old teenager young 20s when you really feel like you should know everything. So there’s also kind of this arrogance isn’t even the right word, there’s a there’s a conviction and a black and whiteness, I guess, that, like the older I get, and the more I learn, the less I think I know. Even last year I had a bit of a kind of, all the formants and harmonics and like not really feeling like you can stay involved enough. Or as much as some, gave me a little bit of a knock in confidence. And then I was like, wait, I have different specialities some of them don’t know what I know about mental training or classroom management or inspiring and motivating a person and it’s okay not to know everything. But then gradually also try and acquire new knowledge all the time. Just that.
Line Hilton 34:42
It’s interesting when you learn. Well I find when I learned something new suddenly that becomes my focus and it’s my everything and in fact, I was talking the other day to one of my teachers that I’m working with about how you have to balance between getting excited and focusing on learning this new thing and not making your students become obsessed about it. Because I know that because of my focus in certain things that I learned along the way, suddenly I’d realise “Oh, now that students thinking about only that, and they think that that’s the only way that they can get to becoming a best singer. And that’s my fault, because I’ve just focused on it so much. And I’ve not actually identified that this is just one new thing or different thing that we’re approaching, that’s kind of, be, you know, complimentary to everything else.” But by the same token, you kind of need to focus on new things in order to learn more about it. So for instance, when I started going down that track of, say, vocal fold closure, I was doing that on all my students, and a lot of my exercises were focused on that. And then I realised “Oh, but I’m ignoring all this other stuff.” And of course, the other thing too, which I found for a while, especially when I was working with SLS was I became so focused on technique that I wasn’t doing anything creative.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 36:11
Line Hilton 36:12
So very difficult balance at times, because you kind of got to do it in order to learn more. But then you’ve got to be careful not to then lead the student down to believing that this is the only way forward for them.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 36:25
Yeah, completely. And you know, some of my many ways, most enjoyable students are the ones who either completely shut out the technique bit, or the ones who are like, “teach me more about how does that thing with the thyroarytenoid and cricoid?” you know, and you kind of can geek out with it and explore things together. And they’ll bring you stuff because they’ve learned and read an article that you haven’t read, and all that kind of stuff, whilst these other ones just force you to go back to why you’re doing this in the first place, which is about the music. So I do love having, I love letting the student lead the lesson. Because I think that’s how we learn. Oh, I just remember another big challenge. Guys, in the beginning, I just felt for many reasons, one of them being, especially if it was like an adult man and I just felt like a child some times, because of the way maybe some guys speak to. And I often found that authority in the, and I don’t mean authority as an authoritarian. But it’s my classroom kind of thing. I do like the, I don’t like the master student relationship, I do prefer their kind of peer with more experience. But I didn’t often feel like I had them more experienced to give me the confidence. And there were some situations, both maybe a little bit sexist, or times where I just didn’t know what to do with a male voice. So that was something that in the early days, I found the challenge and learning little tools, like, let me demonstrate that in my range, and then move it down. Or also, if they really can’t hear which octave or something like that actually go and just listen to the original track or find it in a voice. Yeah.
Line Hilton 38:35
I remember my very first student ever was a male. And it was actually in the process of bringing my fingers to the keyboard that I realised I had no clue what I was supposed to do. I was so excited about it all and just hadn’t considered that at all, you know, not only did I not really know what to do with the voice other than mine, and even then I’m not sure, convincingly I knew what to do with mine. But I hadn’t really explored the idea of teaching the opposite sex. And I just remember feeling incredibly foolish at the time and I blagged my way out of it, but afterwards, I just thought I need to do a lot more work on how to be a teacher, you know, just because I know all this stuff about music doesn’t a teacher me make, and it was a very humbling experience for sure. So what else did I want to ask you about? So you’ve been teaching BAST for a while and obviously working with other singing teachers along the way, and I wondered if you saw any kind of patterns or changes or trends that are coming along that interest you or worry you in teaching?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 39:59
Do you think that singing teachers are taking more… Well, obviously the ones I meet, because they want to do courses and I do the teacher training for and mentor for Vocology In Practice as well. So I’m lucky to work in with singing teachers who have this thirst for knowledge. But I do think there’s a trend for singing teachers to want to know more. So there’ll be less of the place you notes over there and sing from your diaphragm and all these kind of like stock phrases, that doesn’t really mean anything? Well, they can, you know they can help but not for everyone. And I guess there is, I think I’ve definitely seen a trend of that. Also, I think there’s a trend in the UK to accept that vocal training is, like in the music industry, that it’s a viable, acceptable, and actually necessary thing. And I think that is partly because of these big singers who now are… well have been official about their vocal injuries. And that seems to be slightly less stigma. It’s not because you’re a rubbish singer, you’re an athlete, and you happen to have an injury. And what do you do you make sure that you get trained in a rehabilitation, like you would a physiotherapist. And I think, I think that’s really exciting. Because it can be such a, I mean, you know, when you lose your voice, because you’ve had a, like, I had a chest infection, and I sang through it, like I would tell my students not to do. And I got voice loss for the best part of the week, and it was terrifying. And you know, I kind of call it singers depression, because you start going straight to, what am I going to do if I lose my voice, and you know, it’s a terrifying thing. But seeing it as something that is actually something we might experience and remember, and for me, it’s because I want to say yes to everything, because I’m excited and want to help people, I don’t want to let people down. And I’ve started moving on. And I actually had to cancel a teacher training seminar just before Christmas, because my voice was going and I thought if I do this, my voice will go. And then I’ll have another two months of recovery, like I did last year. And it was, for me, that was a horrible thing to do, because I hate letting people down. But actually, people were respecting my. And I thought they would go like, what she’s losing her voice and she’s supposed to teach us. You know, but actually, they were going I’m so sorry, you’re going through this rough time with your voice and I’m not expecting me to. And I know it sounds obvious, and it’s what I always tell my students, well you can’t teach yourself. And, yeah, I’m learning to gradually not to take on as much and the same thing with the, with the conference you were doing that was at the same time. I was like, if I do this, I will get worse. But I really feel like I should and I guess that’s another good girl syndrome, you know, wanting to do well, and wanting to please other people. And I guess there’s a trend in many and many, I guess especially female teachers of maybe going a little bit too far. For maybe doing 9, 10 hour days. And actually, that’s both sexes of packing the schedule, because.
Line Hilton 43:49
I definitely know males who do that
Kaya Herstad-Carney 43:51
Yeah. So yeah, that bit is, I think is right across
Line Hilton 43:57
I think it’s a trend in general. I was talking to some friends who are Australian friends about the trending working practices. And I think that people are working way more than the, you know, accepted 40 hour week, in general, even in a full time job. A lot of people tend to take work home. There’s this pressure constantly, and this kind of impact on singing teachers just as much. And even more so because you’re still in that freelancer kind of mode of like if I don’t work, I might not, you know, get the money
Kaya Herstad-Carney 44:35
Get paid. Yeah.
Line Hilton 44:37
It is an additional pressure that you have as a singing teacher.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 44:42
Line Hilton 44:44
So is there anything else that you wanted to bring up? I mean, we’ve talked, obviously a little bit about the classroom teaching and some of the differences. Things that having some kind of training in classroom management is a benefit. And also that you can still apply that idea of student led learning in your classroom.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 45:14
Definitely. And I guess, particularly bringing in discussion a lot. And so you’re not teaching a class, you’re teaching a group of individuals. And you kind of have to go in and learn and have an independent relationship with each one of them. And I, especially difficult, like, on a Wednesday now, I teach four groups of around 25 students. And they’re new to me this year. And it’s really hard to then straight away gain an independent relationship with each one. And I’m still learning their names and that kind of thing, I do have cheaty pictures on the register, but sometimes they send in like, you know, really posey images. And so I might not…
Line Hilton 46:08
They’ve got lots of makeup on.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 46:09
Lots of makeup in the dark from above with gravity, it yeah, all sorts of pictures where you go, “Oh, oh, that’s you! Right. Okay.” And actually, even I’ve got one student who is now not being known as to same sex as what they were on their, on the registration. So the name has changed on the register, but the picture is still, from when they were presenting us their birth sex, which is an additional challenge that might come up. Especially vocally, then it’s kind of about fight remembering a little, that’s why I always get into like tell a little anecdote or something and try and attach the name to the anecdote, because that’ll be something that I might back in a little joke or something, you know, like, blah, blah, blah, who loves coconuts. You know, and they just feel a little bit seen, because that’s what we all want really, just to be seen and appreciated, although some students wouldn’t want to be seen and pointed out in the classroom, and you kind of have to figure out which ones those are that you need to go over and just have that conversation as they come into the classroom and I even do codes with especially with the performance classes, if I have a student that’s suffered with anxiety. If I ask them, “How are you today?” And I, most people, I will say, “Hello, everyone” or “How are you?” But if I say “How are you today?” That’s like my little code for some of the students. And if they say, “I’m great” then they definitely want to get up. If they say “I’m okay”, then they might want to get up. But we’ll put the hand up. And if they say, “I’m fine”, then they don’t want to get up.
Line Hilton 48:03
Oh, okay. That’s great! I love that strategy!
Kaya Herstad-Carney 48:07
And it’s kind of a way of not pointing out that they don’t want to go up. Because that might exaggerate their anxieties. But at the same time, it’s giving them the opportunity, because some of them really want to get up. They would never put their hand up.
Line Hilton 48:23
Right? Yeah. So what about from a technical point of view? How do you manage classroom teaching?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 48:34
Well, I tend to start from around an A and play male octave and sing the female octave. And then say, if I have some really low females to say, you can jump down the octave when it (suits). I always say, you know, don’t push yourself. If we’re doing a dance class, we start with stretches, we don’t start with high kicks. I cannot hear you. This is not a personal trainer session. This is not for us to do exercises. That’s for tutorial setting. This is for us to do an exercise routine. So you’re jogging, you’re not sprinting, you’re not lifting heavy weights, you’re keeping fit. And I think that I do speak in analogies being a songwriter but I think that kind of resonates with many that it’s not where you expand your range, you work within what you’ve got. And it’s important for the singers to be aware of where they’re at. So don’t really go any higher up than like, well on the one and a half octave scale. I might not go up to a C on the top.
Line Hilton 49:44
Kaya Herstad-Carney 49:45
Yeah, like if it’s a trained, if it’s level six, it’s trained singers. But with the choir, I won’t even go much higher than the D or E because we don’t need it for the material that we’re singing. So that, again it’s horses for courses.
Line Hilton 50:00
Yeah, I think my general rule of thumb is G5.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 50:07
Yeah, I think generally it tends to be F. But as I said, Sometimes if you see everybody and I always point out like eyebrows singing like, I don’t want any eyebrows or double chins. And that means they’re thinking up and down. And we’ll talk about how there are no high notes and low notes. Only fast vibrations and slow vibrations. And I want to see relaxation. And, you know, if I know the student group, well, which I do with my artists course, I tend to say things from the tutorials like, you know, Sarah, you can do the dip. That’s generally semi occluded exercises for all of that. And then I tend to ask for them to do their home base if I do the one and a half octave. And I say, so for some of you, just to remind them, if you’re working on power, there might have been the nay or, and I kind of simplify things. And if you need a bit more released today, let’s give me a WOOF or a WEEH, and they’ll remember which one we did in the tutorial. So they can kind of apply that it does sound a bit weird. And yeah, I do a lot of semi occluded basically.
Line Hilton 51:20
Okay, so when I was doing classroom teaching, and I don’t know if this is the right thing to do, given that, obviously, there’s different personality types. And maybe I should have had a more safe mode for those. But I actually did, in the first few weeks a vocal assessment on each individual.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 51:40
Yeah, I’ve done that as well
Line Hilton 51:42
As part of the class, which is, obviously me getting to know their voice, and then also getting them used to just singing in front of other people, regardless of what their voice is sounding like and being okay about it. And also helping the others that are listening to be more analytical in their approach to voice so that they can hear all the different voice types and all the different issues and that everybody has something they need to work on.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 52:12
And for voice technique classes, I would always do that actually. Yeah. Oh, hold on. So I was talking more like for general performance classes.
Line Hilton 52:20
Well I was actually asking about voice technique classes.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 52:23
Yeah. Also the thing is, they’re kind of not completely separate either. So I do voice technique in both the performance classes and choir classes. But if I’m doing the vocal technique class, then I am expecting everybody to get up. And I also, you know, let them know that the only way we can, you only learn slightly outside of your comfort zone. Yeah. And if you make a mistake, I can help you. Yes, because I know what’s going on. So actually, I really like it. If you make a mistake in this because it makes my job much easier. If you do it perfectly, then I have to work much harder. And I kinda do it like that. And then if I make a mistake on the piano, I always tell them that I do it so that they will feel comfortable about making mistakes. Mistakes are the only way we can learn. I also, if somebody is really kind of obsessed about making mistakes, then I’ll talk about the error related negativity signals. And kind of how actually the fact that you really notice when you make a mistake makes you a good learner. But the only way you can become a great learner is by building up the PE signal, which is the signal that comes after` that makes you go “Okay, I’m going to fix this.”
Line Hilton 53:38
Cool. So we’ve come to a segment now where the interviewee gets to ask the interviewer a question. Hopefully, the interviewer can answer. So, here’s your opportunity, if you have a question that you’d like to ask me, and it can be about, you know, any aspect of teaching or the course or…
Kaya Herstad-Carney 54:01
You know, I think one thing that I’ve found challenging and still working out is when a student comes to you, and they might have been to another singing teacher and spent a lot of money or time and they’re coming to you with things that you believe to be inaccurate or that isn’t part of your philosophy to not make them feel like they’ve wasted all this time and they’ve worked with somebody who isn’t good, but at the same time kind of helping them find a more accurate… Do you know, I mean?
Line Hilton 54:50
I do and it can be awkward because you don’t also want to be dissing another teacher.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 54:58
Line Hilton 55:00
So, on the odd occasion, when that’s happened, I think what I tend to focus on is the positive things that they’ve got out of the teaching, I definitely never, I go out of my way to make sure that I’m not saying you learnt that incorrectly, I would go “Well, this is how I understand it. And I’ve done quite a lot of research on it, or I read this book, or if you want to read what I read, you know, go and watch this video to find out why I think like this”, rather than saying “What you were taught was inaccurate.” And, and I think I’ve also said, “Well, you know, every teacher is different, and they come from a different angle. And this has been my angle, which is much more scientific and medical and anatomical, you know, your past teacher may have chosen to go in a different direction.” So the other thing chose, I think, back on my experience, because I had six years of lessons with the teacher who, from a technical point of view, she did improve my voice, but she didn’t actually fix the problem that I’d come to her with, in those six years. And because of my ignorance, I didn’t realise that I should have probably moved on. But also, there wasn’t maybe anybody else who could fix it from where I was. But she encouraged me to go out and do stuff that I would never have done from a performance point of view. And also, she was just such a wonderful community builder, and really nurturing. And I took all that stuff, you know, and brought it into my teaching, and recognise that I wouldn’t have had the courage to go out and do an audition for musical theatre show, let alone, you know, actually get into one and you know, do a long run and have that experience, I would never have gone and done any competitions, which, you know, I did relatively well in, I would never have thought about going and doing my degree, probably if it hadn’t been for her. So I think everybody can teach you something and bring you something and they’re the things that we need to focus on.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 57:15
Line Hilton 57:16
And the thing is, you don’t have to necessarily talk about it if the student doesn’t bring it up anyway.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 57:21
No, I wouldn’t if the students don’t directly ask me then I’ll just kind of move on to the next thing. And like, I guess the hardest one, is they go, “I went back to”, like, if you’ve taught them something, especially like, I guess, classroom academic stuff. And they go back to their old teacher in like summer holiday or something. And they come back and they go, “Hey, I’ve learned that blah, blah, blah, and they really disagree.”
Line Hilton 57:58
Yeah, well, the thing is to put it on the onus onto the student to go and do the research to then come up with their own conclusion.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 58:05
Line Hilton 58:06
And especially in an academic setting, because actually, you know, if you do go onto masters, and you know, you can’t be sitting there saying, she said, he said, and so therefore it’s correct. Because if we went by, you know, the news of The Sun or the Daily News, and we lead our life that way, we’d have a very different perspective on what the real world was. But if we go and do some research and find any, like today with Google, you know. And with YouTube, there’s really no reason why they can’t go and figure it out for themselves, especially if it’s an anatomical or scientific thing. That and also, you know, if you have a paper or a book on it, and you just ask the student to come to their own conclusion, rather than just taking anything, including what you say for gospel.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 58:57
Yeah, I do encourage autonomous thought, I think that is great. Yeah. YouTube is another challenge, actually, because they’ll come in and (say “I do some warm ups from YouTube”. And, you go, “Why don’t you work on the stuff we did? Because, you know, that’s what that was made for you and YouTube and is made for someone else.”
Line Hilton 59:20
Um, we have a question here from one of the BAST members, Sarah, and she’s asked us to talk about and help her understand how we can apply exercises into song. She wants to know, how can we help our students to work on their songs via scales, sounds, etc. What should we look for in the song to choose the right exercise? And how can we help them perform the song, use of dynamics, telling the story of the song etc. There’s quite a lot in that questions isn’t there?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 59:53
Definitely, it’s a very multi-layered, great question. So I, assuming that there’s somebody who is struggling with the song. Because if they’re not struggling with the song, we’ll just go straight to the song after warming up, and I would look for, or get them to sing it through and actually just listen and make a couple of notes the first time. Sometimes if it’s a lot of trouble, I might just ask them to sing until the first chorus, because singing, the whole song will waste this time that we could be working. And obviously, the more you sing it in the less effective way, the more you cement that muscle memory.
Line Hilton 1:00:38
Yeah, and I wanted to put a point in there, because sometimes a singer, especially in the beginnings, you know, they’ll feel like that it’s been a total disaster because you stopped them without finishing the song. So I often will say, that’s great, I’ve got a lot of information now to help you with the things that you need. So making sure that you explain to the singer that…
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:01:05
Line Hilton 1:01:05
We’ve got the information, we need to then start working through the whole song. I think that’s an important point to make there.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:01:13
If I have an hour, I tend to get them to sing the whole thing through because we know, especially if they’re doing something where they’d like next week audition or something like that. Because if you just work on the first bit, then they might have had a lot of more trouble later. And you kind of have to prioritise which monster to deal with first. So I will let them think it all the way through. And then I say, “Okay, can you sing it again for me? This time, I’ll stop you.” But I might give them a couple of pointers before that. I might also after we’ve done that, so we might then use them as exercises, if it’s a muscle air balance, especially. I tend to think in the power, source, filter, you know, airflow vocal folds, vocal tract. So, if I feel like it’s more the power source interaction that isn’t ideal, then I’ll definitely go to semi occluded first. I find on songs that VV is a great one for that. Straw in water, if I need to get there quicker. And if it’s somebody who might not be… because you could definitely tell if they’re doing it right with a straw. If not the onus is quite a lot on the students. So seeing the bubbles go either too bubbly or not enough you get a lot of information. Then, if they have kind of home base thing that works particularly well with them, we might do sections in that. If they tend to pull, I might take it up.
Line Hilton 1:02:42
Explain what you mean by home base?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:02:44
Oh, sorry. Yeah. So particular syllables, vowel and consonant combinations. So vowel to either do the placement or to encourage a certain resonance and the consonants to encourage airflow, or decrease airflow, and also placement in the mouth. If it’s kind of too throaty, and I want to bring it a bit more of the mouth. Second formant dominance kind of resonance, if you want. I might put something that is moving it forward. But with a vowel that does, whatever it is, yeah, it’s, it’s so hard to say, exactly, because they always depend on the singer.
Line Hilton 1:03:24
As I understand home base, it’s more often when you’ve worked with a singer for a while you find that there are certain vowel consonant combinations that work really well. And just get them to that place quickly.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:03:35
Line Hilton 1:03:37
For me, it’s BAH. Most of the time it’s BAH. But there are some other people for which other consonant vowel combinations work much better, depending on what their issue is. And so that’s what I would call their home base.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:03:51
Exactly. And yeah, BAH is a big one. BOE if you need a diphthong. So you get the two vowels. They’re a bit of EQing if you want. WOOF
Line Hilton 1:04:01
Okay. So, you find you use their home base sound to go through the melody?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:04:09
Yeah. And then I might make an exercise out of a certain challenging bit in the, in the song, especially if it’s a fast riff, or if it’s a particularly high bit, often the chorus hook line, I’ll make an exercise of them and repeat, repeat, repeat. And I might take it from a semi occluded into something that is more like the home base, then into the words,
Line Hilton 1:04:31
Would you slow it down
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:04:33
Slowing down, I might change key as well. I tend end to take it up. If it’s somebody who needs more release and take it down if it’s somebody who needs more kind of TA, as in vocal fold closure. I might also use things if it is about closure, like a ninja chop before they start, they go HUH and get that kind of feel of the closure going straight into the song. If it’s too much sub glottal pressure. I might get them to get rid of all the air first and then get into it. Yes, slowing down is so, I’ve taken away either rhythm or tempo. I love the Amazing Slowdowner because you can move, pitch around, I’m not working for them, and pitch down and it goes straight on to Spotify, or you can send an mp3 from your voice recorder straight in there and slow down their work as well.
Line Hilton 1:05:06
Is it software?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:05:30
There’s a free version, but you can only do up to one minute. The paid one is about a tenner, but I pretty much use it every lesson. So it’s, yeah, I kind of
Line Hilton 1:05:42
Is it for Apple or for PC as well?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:05:46
I don’t know if it’s for PC, I haven’t been in that world for a while
Line Hilton 1:05:50
I’m gonna write it down and so Amazing Slowdowner
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:05:53
Yeah. And you can import backing tracks directly from Spotify. So most of the time, that’s what I tend to do. And I can slow that down or change the key. So really handy tool. What was the other thing?
Line Hilton 1:06:08
So yeah, so you take away the rhythm. You slow down the melody. Or you change the key. Would you ever change the key of the song?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:06:23
Yeah. So up if I think they need more release and down if they.
Line Hilton 1:06:29
Okay, so another thing that I do is look at the vowels of the word that they are having trouble with, and I might substitute the consonant with the more helpful one. Or I might actually try and manoeuvre the vowel, to one that’s a little easier. And then try and get it back to the original vowel.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:06:53
Yeah, or paint the vowel with, I tend to write the lyrics out. If we if we gotten to carry a little bit further. So we can do it on the exercise, I might just do a little bit of vowel modification. So especially a look for diphthongs, and triphthongs, or two or three vowels together. Because if each vowel has a different property, and you’re going like ‘fi-ee-ure’, then all of a sudden, you’ve got a lot of different frequencies there. So I’d go ‘fi-yar’ depending on where it is in the in the register, because obviously, different vowels are better for certain, but also look at consonants. FF Again, if somebody has a tendency to disconnect, singing, on a FF or a SH or SS, you know, might not quite help them. So that’s why the more helpful constants can be really good.
Line Hilton 1:07:45
So what about… How might you use scales to help? So what’s your logical thinking with regard to that?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:08:01
I tend to use scales more to kind of prepare the voice rather than go back to scale unless somebody is really unsuccessful, and I might have to go back to find a place and I knew a scale worked well. However, it might be like, if you’re doing a Christina Aguilera song, and there’s loads of blues scale, bluesy riffs on actually going through and going back and doing some minor blues scale tends to be really helpful with riffs or another really good riffy one is the harmonic minor. I don’t use too many scales, after moving on to application. Because I think at that point, well it depends where in the development, the singer is. If somebody needs to sing something for then, I tend to stay on the song and if the lesson is almost running out, if I need to take that key down, or just do the verse or something just to make them go out and feel like they’ve improved, then, you know, sometimes you kind of have to abort mission. And just realise that this isn’t going to be done in the time and yeah, with the resources you have available. But I think that putting the conviction and the intention in, talking about how to get the performance in, I use a lot of actioning. So active verbs, and I’ll get them to put that next to look, sometimes it’s enough to make them think about the backstory and then the things just click in but if that’s not the case, then I will get them to find an active verb to play, because it tends to be much more nuanced than playing emotion. Emotion might be like happy like over the top and you know fists of emotion kind of thing.
Line Hilton 1:09:50
Can you give an example?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:09:53
So, you might say I love you, but that could be “Oh my god, you got my favourite tickets to see, see my favourite band, I love you”, or “I love my pet” or, you know, “you’re my best friend.” Or it could be, “don’t leave me”, you know? So, if you say I verb you so essentially, that could be I need you where you’re actually singing I love you.
Line Hilton 1:10:17
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:10:18
So it could be I adore you. But the more active actually, the better. It’s worth looking up. And I actually have a little book, that’s called ‘Actions’. And I’ve learned from some of the acting teachers at LIPA. And some students, it just works really well because they stop singing, and start just thinking.
Line Hilton 1:10:44
Performing, yeah. So at what point would you bring in use of dynamics?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:10:54
From the very beginning, I might leave that like, I’ll leave the rhythm and the tempo. If we are working on pure technique stuff, but often trouble later on is because you started too loud, or you know, the shape of the song. Sometimes, might matter more than whether it’s, you know, you might have a section that is really not well sung. Almost talked, but it’s exactly what that song needs. So, yeah, I think dynamics and intention is what I appreciate the most in music. So, I’ll probably try and go there, even though now, I’m a vocal geek and a singing teacher proud, you know, I still go to vocal coaching, and getting that song out of them, regardless of technique, and then keep on moving the voice along with the exercises.
Line Hilton 1:11:55
Do you have any specific dynamics exercises or strategies?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:12:01
Well exercises, I think that messa di voce, going from really quiet and go really loud and back again. So crescendo, diminuendo. Well, that looks funny on camera. I use a lot, I think that’s right across the entire range is very difficult but beautiful exercise. Actually doing more aspirate consonants, going to harder consonants in sections, also using vowels that are more kind of close to narrow in sections that should be quieter. And then big, loud, wide ‘dentist wide’ vowels for sections, there should be louder.
Line Hilton 1:12:44
Yeah, that’s interesting, because I don’t think people really think about the fact that there’s a variety of ways that the voice can create dynamic. There’s the actual control of TA (thyroarytenoid, CT (cricothyroid) and, you know,
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:13:01
pressure and closure and compression,
Line Hilton 1:13:04
yeah, from that point of view, but there is also vocal qualities. We use, as you said, our vowels to help manipulate certain dynamics. And of course, quite often and we run this as everyone knows, the “If I Ain’t Got You”, we talk about at the beginning, when Alicia [Keys] is, you know, dynamically very soft. How she do that? She does that by being breathy. Is that because she doesn’t have access at the moment to a well balanced voice, which is generally the conclusion we come to. But, she’s a musician and a performer and so she’s doing whatever she can in order to achieve that dynamic.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:13:47
To serve the song
Line Hilton 1:13:48
Whether it’s the most healthiest way from a voice point of view, you know, that’s a whole other thing, but because she knows that’s what her voice is just capable of today, she may not always have done it that way, or may not always do it that way. But in that moment, that was the only choice she had was to use vocal quality in order to get the dynamic she wanted. So I think that’s quite interesting. But for me, I wouldn’t really be using that in my teaching until I had a fairly what I consider advanced voice where they know the difference. And they understand also the potential issues that can arise using those qualities a lot.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:14:36
Yep. I try and work in a balanced vocal compression, and then going into kind of stronger or medium, weak, but I try to stay away from really whispery and excessive. However, sometimes that’s what the song needs and at the very end of the chorus, if we do it but we say 80% in the balanced voice for the rest of the set or the rest of the song. The one thing, actually a challenge for teaching, I have this fantastic functional band singer that I’m working with. And one thing that’s kind of occurred to me is that that is so much more demanding than the original artists because there are singing, the hits that are always “gum, dum, dum” everything is basically living on an F# and a G was always involved there. And we kind of working on moving the setlist around to just ensure that they’re using different coordination. Because, you know, if you stay in one coordination, whatever that is, it might be an easy coordination. You know, if you hold the camera up for a long while your arms start, it’s not a hard coordination, but the muscles just not designed to stay in one coordination for long. So
Line Hilton 1:15:57
Yes, actually, when I was just in Vienna, for Christmas there were those guys, those statue people, that, you know, it’s out at the palace, Schöneberg and I was thinking, how do they train themselves to stand still for so long, you know, it must take time to build up the stamina.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:16:18
Definitely. Thats why they do the whole sort of thank you and have a little move.
Line Hilton 1:16:23
Because it’s actually not healthy, it is for your voice or for anything, any muscle just stay in that one position for a long time
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:16:30
Actually, finally, there’s a great podcast, Amanda Palmer she used to be a human statue, and she talks about the performance connection you get when it’s just through a simple look. It’s a good podcast, for those of you who haven’t seen it.
Line Hilton 1:16:48
Something of Asking, Art of Asking?
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:16:50
Art of Asking. Yes, that’s it.
Line Hilton 1:16:53
Right. Well, we’ve had an amazing first podcast. I want to thank you very much for your time.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:16:59
Thanks for having me!
Line Hilton 1:17:01
Yes. So for anybody who’s listening, make sure you send us some more questions in so that we can answer your questions. It doesn’t matter whether it’s about technique or performance or dealing with students on a personal level or business, whatever it is, throw it at us. We love as you can see talking about teaching and voice and the journey and we look forward to bringing out more so there’ll be one a month for the moment and at the moment. It’s just for members, though, I do wonder whether maybe we should make this more public because I think other people would benefit from our discussions as well. Okay, I’m going to say goodbye to Kaya. Thank you very much.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:17:49
Line Hilton 1:17:51
See you around in the BAST community.
Kaya Herstad-Carney 1:17:53