'Neuroscience-based Vocal Pedagogy' - with Heidi Moss Erickson - Thursday 22nd April 2021 (5pm-7pm UK time)

This course will be recorded and sent out to all pre-registered participants to watch in their own time.
Due to licensing laws, we are unable to sell this course retrospectively.

Course Details

Neuroscience-based vocal pedagogy

Heidi Moss Erickson, B.A.Bio, B.Mus.Voice, M.Sci.

Research on the neurobiological underpinnings of vocalization is growing at a rapid pace. Scientists from varied disciplines contribute to this field, elucidating the process from diverse angles such as evolutionary biology, molecular biology, genetics, neuroscience, and social science. It is essential that singers, pedagogues, and voice scientists capitalize on this wealth of data outside of our own field to greater understand our instruments.

An integrative viewpoint of how and why we sing can refine the art of vocal pedagogy, demystifying long-held myths, and yield greater vocal efficiency: making singers better faster.

The goal of this lecture is to bridge the divide between traditional voice science and pedagogy with the most current research from other disciplines.

Specifically, we will explore:

  1. Vocal Learning: audiation and mimicry
  2. How to learn coloratura and riffs via patterns
  3. The importance of getting off the page and strategies to make written music more ‘singer-brain’ friendly.
  4. Using gesture to improve vocalization (and why it works!)
  5. Pitching strategies
  6. Reframing breath: a valve based system
  7. Character and emotion: playing with opposites
  8. Distraction as a tool

Vocal pedagogy should be a dynamic process, and the hope is that this exploration will encourage singers and teachers to think outside the box. Given the rapid pace of neuroscience research, dogmas can actually change in a short amount of time resulting in paradigm shifts that can be small or seismic. To that end, it is important to keep up to date on current trends via primary papers and taking note of the diverse minds in the field. We will finish the lecture with a bibliography of the wonderful scientists working on the neuroscience of vocalization.

About Heidi

Heidi Moss Erickson, is a Bay Area performer, educator, and scientist. Noted for her “rich and radiant soprano” (Edward Oriz, Sacramento Bee) has performed on national and international stages, including numerous local companies such as Opera Parallele, Festival Opera, West Edge Opera, Livermore Opera, Fremont Symphony, Peninsula Symphony, Oakland Symphony, and the Sacramento Choral Society.

A champion of new music, she helped spearhead the performance of eight song premieres by eight different renowned composers for an alte/neue lieder fest with LIEDER ALIVE! including Daron Hagen, David Conte, Kurt Erickson, and Henry Mollicone. She continues her collaborations with living composers including a recital of works by Jake Heggie, with the composer himself at the piano. She has also premiered works by philanthropist Gordon Getty with the Russian National Orchestra and San Francisco Opera and will premiere a piece by Tarik O’Regan next June.

Heidi has also garnered recognition in major vocal competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (NYC First Place Winner), the Liederkranz Awards, the MacAllister Awards, and the KDFC competition which resulted in a performance with pianist Lang Lang. In 2019 she was awarded a ‘Best in the Bay’ award for her Richard Strauss recital featuring John Parr of Deutsch Oper Berlin at the piano.

In addition to her musical life, Heidi graduated with a double biology and music degree from Oberlin and a masters in biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. She studied telomeres at Rockefeller University and has several publications, including a landmark paper in Cell which was featured in the New York Times elucidating a revolutionary discovery that the ends of DNA are looped.

Her interest in voice science came from her work in the lab of the late Richard Miller at Oberlin. Throughout her career, she has collected historical vocal pedagogy texts and scientific papers both inside and outside the field to fuel her unique perspective on singing. In 2007, a rare cranial nerve injury sidelined her singing career, and both doctors and teachers warned her she may not ever perform again. Using her own scientific research and strategies, particularly in how speech and singing is processed in the brain, she rehabilitated to return to the art she loves. She has applied these concepts to train singers of all levels, including those who struggle with auditory processing.

In addition to a private studio, Heidi teaches voice and vocal physiology at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has been an invited speaker at the NATS National Conference,The Pacific Voice Conference, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Oregon, Vocal ProcessUK, Vocology In Practice, and NerdNiteSF. This year she was also featured as a keynote speaker for the British Voice Association Conference. Her writings have appeared in blogs and podcasts, such as The Naked Vocalist and in her journal club entitled “Minding the Gap: connecting research from basic science and neuroscience to vocal pedagogy”. Her goal is to help reframe vocal pedagogy to make singers happier while simultaneously improving more rapidly by integrating concepts of neuroscience into the studio. She is the wife of composer/pianist Kurt Erickson, winner of the NATS Art Song Prize, and they proudly parent 4 children together.

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