VoiceScienceWorks is a revolutionary educational organization committed to taking contemporary research on the voice and translating it into directly applicable information so that all voice users can immediately apply it in practice. Through our free and accessible website, learning resources, and workshops, information becomes accessible and friendly to all voice users who wish to deepen their understanding and empower their learning process. Co-founders and authors, Laurel Irene and David Harris have presented at universities and institutions across the United States and Europe including Harvard, Curry, USC, CalArts, Duke, OSU, CU Boulder, BIMM Dublin, and many more, bringing playful, interactive, and transformative sessions to vocalists across professions and genres. Brilliant minds have been working through the complex bio-mechanics, physics, acoustics and neurology of phonation for decades, helping us to better understand what actually happens when we speak and sing. VoiceScienceWorks provides access to that complex information through straight-forward explanations and methods. Each person’s unique voice holds deep elements of their identity. VoiceScienceWorks strives to help everyone unlock the hidden potential of their voice in whichever ways they choose to use it, thereby strengthening their artistry, identity, and individuality. Through cutting edge programs like the online “Voice Science Crash Course” and the 2-week intensive “Listen Up” individualized voice packages, VoiceScienceWorks reaches people around the world, providing profound opportunities for individual growth and exploration.
What is Straw Phonation? Besides super cool. Click here to find out more!
Our goal is to take contemporary research on the voice and translate it into directly applicable information so that you, the voice user, can immediately apply it in your practice. Brilliant minds have been working through complex bio mechanics, physics, acoustics and neurology for decades, helping us to better understand what actually happens when we sing. We can now access that complex information through straight-forward explanations and methods.
The voice is an instrument we can’t see
As one of the more complex systems in the body, the vocal mechanism is easily misunderstood from top to bottom. Since the entire instrument lies inside the body, instructors have had to rely on sensation and metaphor for hundreds of years in communicating to students how to habilitate their bodies and minds to create reliable sounds. These sensations are essential to voice habilitation, but they aren’t the whole picture. By connecting ever-expanding scientific knowledge of the body and mind with tried techniques from the past, we can determine why certain approaches help, and seek out new directions that would otherwise be unavailable to us.
Voice science a leveling agent
Vocology, as a science, offers us a chance to understand how and why the voice does what it does, and, importantly, what specific steps to take to strengthen the voice for desired goals. Through the creation of specific language based in scientific understanding, vocal practitioners are able to communicate complex ideas as they relate to all people, and avoid some of the conflicts that naturally develop from discussions based primarily in each individuals’ personal experience.
Voice science is a mythology buster
The indirect nature of sensation and metaphor lead to mythology creation, and entrenchment around pedagogical approaches that pit studios/methods against one another, and lead to confusion and challenges. Conversely, we have found that when students have a conception of their voice as a reliable biomechanical construct influenced by the body and brain, they are better able to relate to the sensations utilized to explore vocal technique. This also leads to students becoming self-observational learners, able to engage positively with all points of view.
The voice is emotional
In addition to being the principal form of human communication, the voice is also deeply tied into our emotions. Nerves that carry important information to the body based on emotional responses pass directly by the voice. When we respond to external stimuli, the voice is one of the first places that measures a response. How we sound reflects one of our more personal observations of ourselves. These and other reasons make voice habilitation one of the more challenging and potentially contentious efforts. Having language that demystifies and clarifies measurable functions of the voice helps students learn with greater ease, and vocal professionals communicate with uplifting and engaging language.
We actually met each other in 2014, at a 3 month long intensive vocology training workshop (The Summer Vocology Institute at the National Center for Voice & Speech). Our goal since that first summer of intensive voice research has been to share the resources we've discovered and continue to discover with anyone who is curious about the voice. These days, we spend most of our time singing, teaching, leading choirs, and researching in Los Angeles. Scroll down to see ways we can connect together on the road, or here in L.A.!
We are both regular performers as soloists and ensemble members. We use vocology to guide our personal study, exploring vocal challenges through research and application of science-based approaches. We know from our own explorations that scientific knowledge can never replace experiential learning, and that singing requires artful intention and engagement. Still, a keen understanding of what makes the voice work guides this exploration immeasurably.
As Voice instructors
Our goal, as trained vocologists and teachers, is to help students understand the central aspects of scientific concepts in an experiential way. In a broader context, we use vocological terminology where prudent, and strive to use sensational and tactile language that is based in scientific understanding. We also depend upon a body/mind approach to learning, acknowledging gains in contemporary neuroscience that speak to a learner-centered approach to the body and brain. We gear our instruction to be age-appropriate, and have seen the beneficial results of sharing scientific knowledge to children, youth, and adults of all ages. We aim to spend as little time talking about the concepts as possible, and we develop learning tools and terminology that reinforce learning, so that the vocalist's focus is always on the exploration of their goals.
As Ensemble Leaders
The challenges of group vocal instruction require creative solutions, particularly when the vocalists have to perform together as a unit. We use vocology in every rehearsal, introducing it in voice training sessions and mini-lectures to establish concepts and targets. Once the student has a basic understanding of a scientific concept and personal targets associated with it, we reinforce their understanding throughout the rehearsal, drawing on their knowledge and curiosity to help them find solutions to challenging aspects of the voicing. We also utilize vocal analyzer software, interactive online tools, and other body and mind mapping props/games to help the vocalists explore their instrument. Importantly, we acknowledge that vocalists cannot spend their conscious energy processing science while performing, so regular integration of knowledge into practice is essential. In our particular ensemble practice, the two of us work as a team, allowing for one-on-one interaction with vocalists, and the benefit of having two vocal professionals monitoring the complex interactions of group voicing.
We continually ask questions, even of the ideas that we hold most dear to us. We celebrate curiosity as our light on the hill, and take the approach that nothing is sacred, and that there is way more to know than we already understand. We enjoy reading the work of others, as well as regularly testing our own hypothesis.
Summer Vocology Institute, National Center for Voice & Speech
College of the Holy Cross
Cornish College of the Arts
California Institute of the Arts
Portland State University
Oregon State University
Southern Oregon University
California State University, Los Angeles
California State University, Long Beach
University of California, Los Angeles,
University of Southern California
University of South Florida
Linn-Benton Community College
University of Arizona
Loyola Marymount University
Shameless Singing Studios
BAST: Be a Singing Teacher
VocalizeU: Summer Artist Intensive
Cork School of Music
Duke Clinic Voice Center
New England Conservatory
PAVA: Pan-American Vocology Association, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
ACDA East: American Choral Directors Associataion, Eastern Division, 2016
ASA: Acoustical Society of America, 2016
VASTA: Voice and Speech Trainer's Association, 2018
VIP: Vocology in Practice, 2017, 2018
IVTOM: International Voice Teachers of Mix, 2017
EVTA-Be: European Voice Teachers Association, Belgium, 2019
N.E.O. Voice Festival, Co-Directors, 2019
Dr. Dan's Voice Essentials, 2019
Be A Singing Teacher Podcast, 2019
Star Singer, 2019
Intelligent Vocalist, 2019
The Naked Vocalist, 2018
SingTalk Radio, 2017
VoiceMatters Video Series, 2017
Choral Journal: "Seven Essential Voice Science Tools for Choral Singing", 2019
Vocology in Practice: "Registration and the Value of New Language", 2019
The Voice Teacher's Cookbook, contributing authors 2018
Vocology in Practice: "The Magic of Vocal Acoustics", 2017
The Unfiltered Source, Publishers, 2016
iSing Magazine: "A Step by Step Guide to Warming Up for Choral Groups", 2016
goals for this website
Not only is this website a hub of collected information, resources and tools, it is also a map of where to find even more information, resources and tools. We have taken our understanding of research on the voice and shared it where you can access it, and we've worked to translate it into understandable language so that you can immediately apply it to your singing.
We created this site to be an online center for people interested in knowing more about voice science. This includes some practical ways that we have had success integrating it into our teaching. We regularly research this information, and put it into practice in our own voices, and with the students who we work with. Our aim is to provide as comprehensive a tool as possible, so, if you notice something missing, please let us know. If you have information to add, we'd love to hear from you. We hope that our focused definitions can help your own practice, and that we can help to connect others to current resources.
ways we can connect
Explore the website
There's so many great resources to explore! We recommend starting with Using Vocology: A Singer's Toolbox and the Warm Ups and Exercises page.
Because the materials are constantly being updated, we'd love for you to join our newsletter so we can keep you up to date!
Check out our online courses and upcoming workshops on the road. Interested in hosting a workshop? Let's talk!
N.E.O. Voice Festival
Join us in L.A. for our annual voice festival for vocalists and composers! More info here
Support us through Patreon
To keep all our online content free and accessible to all we rely on monthly contributions from fans and supporters of the site. For as little as $3 a month, you can help us keep providing these essential and free resources to all voice lovers.
Laurel Irene, Los Angeles-based and "downright superhuman" (LA Times) vocal artist and voice researcher, specializes in bringing new compositional works to life with vocal repertoire ranging from Monteverdi to Mozart to the wacky, wild, and extreme sounds of the 21st century. With incredible vocal range, agile flexibility, and intense "resigned, compassionate, forbearing, affectionate, sympathetic, absolving" (LA Times) emotional connection that stretches from playful to unhinged in the span of a page, she draws on her expertise in vocal research to heighten unique timbres, textures, and vocal expressions. In 2019 she performed the role of Countess Almaviva in REDCAT's 12 hour endurance art piece, earning Mark Swed's acclaim as "one of the most astonishing performances, vocally and interpretively, I have ever encountered". Other recent features in the Los Angeles area include The Industry/LA Phil New Music Group (John Cage's Europeras 1 & 2), The Getty Museum (Steve Reich's Drumming), LACMA Sunday Evening Concerts (Dominick Argento's Letters from Composers), The Box Gallery (Nice Day for the Races opera premiere), Monday Evening Concerts (Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians), The MARS Festival, and The First Congregational Church, L.A. (G.B. Pergolesi's Stabat Mater). A recent winner of the Beverly Hills National Auditions, she also regularly performs with chamber and vocal music ensembles across Los Angeles.
As an avid voice educator and founder of the educational organization, VoiceScienceWorks, she gives voice workshops at conferences and collegiate settings across the United States and Europe including the Pan-American Vocology Association, American Choral Directors Association, Acoustical Society of America, Harvard University, York University, College of the Holy Cross, California Institute for the Arts, University of California Los Angeles, and Cornish College of the Arts.
Ms. Irene is an alumna of performance programs at the USC Thornton School of Music, New Music on the Point, Cortona New Music Sessions, Oregon State University, California State University L.A., and the Summer Vocology Institute.
Visit www.laurelirenesings.com for more information
David Harris (DMA, b. 1974) specializes in new music, American music, and the intricacies of communication in singing and conducting. Through innovation, performance, and research, David enlivens community through the power of music. Having been called the “Thomas Edison of vocal music” by those close to him, and “one of the most compelling conductors in America”, his favorite accolade comes from a New Year’s Eve Bostonian who casually offered that he “looks like the kind of guy who could wear suede in the rain and not get wet.” An advocate of new music, David has premiered hundreds of pieces for vocal and instrumental ensembles, and for the theater. He shares his creative passion with the composers, performers and audiences who bring life to new work, guiding them in the unique discovery of self found in new composition. A composer/performer himself, David writes in varied styles, and enjoys exploring those elements that communicate most directly to people. Recent compositions have included new approaches to illuminating harmonics (e.g. overtones) in vocal music, rhythmic and textural layering, structured improvisation, contrasting resonant strategies, and crisp simplicity. Songwriting is a daily, and often jocular, practice, akin to his love of gardening (the unmatched joy of a fresh blackberry or tomato). His love of new music invigorates his passion for music of other generations. By integrating historical practice, ornamentation, meaning, and emotional context into contemporary understanding he opens doors into historic music, inviting it off of the museum shelf and into fresh existence. David has created or revitalized over a dozen ensembles in his career, often through important collaboration with others. Career highlights of these ensembles include the Mostly Baroque Players, Jubilate, Triad, C3LA, the Young Men’s Ensemble of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the choirs at College of the Holy Cross, The Columbia University Glee Club, The Brearley Singers and Chamber Orchestra, The LidaBros barbershop quartet, Laude, the Commonwealth Community Chorus, and the Cathedral Choir at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, which is one of the coolest collections of people to work with in one awe-inspiring place. Living in Los Angeles, David is the co-founder and director of VoiceScienceWorks and one of the principal authors of the website and of various publications. Together with his partner, Laurel Irene, he helps vocalists learn to translate difficult voice science into immediately applicable tools. Voice science, though, is much more of a personal pursuit, and includes daily tinkering and expanding vocal opportunities in measured steps. David performs in many styles, has command of varied extended vocal techniques, and loves making crazy sounds and fluidly crossing voice parts in ensembles depending on where the need lies. This has led to regular opportunities to sing and teach others around the world how miraculous their voices are, and how their mental and physical capacity are only limited by their habits and beliefs. Through games, experiences, and presentations based in neuroscience and voice research, he helps people realize the life-changing possibilities of voice. David is thankful to Joan Catoni-Conlon and Larry Kaptein (University of Colorado), Dennis Shrock (University of Oklahoma), Sandra Willets, Granville Oldham, and Shaun Amos (University of Alabama), and Ingo Titze (National Center for Voice and Speech) for their mentorship, and to all of the musicians and collaborators that make up his essential community for their love and guidance. Perhaps the most interesting part of his life, however, is his engagement to the unstoppable force of Laurel Irene.
Visit www.drdavidharrismusic.org for more information
Allen Pearcy Galeana is a Mexican-American tenor and a recent graduate of the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, where he studied with nationally celebrated pedagogue, Lynn Helding. At USC, he brought to life dynamic and diverse characters in works ranging from early music to contemporary pieces. Some of his performance highlights include Nettuno in Caccini’s La Liberazione di Ruggiero, Julián in Breton’s La Verbena de la Paloma, Basilio/Don Curzio in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, and Tommy/Jerry in Michael Webster’s Nice Day for the Races. In addition to his experience with opera, Allen is well versed in musical theater, having sung lead roles in productions such as CATS, Shrek the Musical and, The Addams Family.
As an avid promotor and champion for the arts, Allen has been heavily involved in arts administration, serving in leadership positions in multiple arts organizations. He was the Vice President for both USC’s chapter of the Student National Association of Teachers of Singing, and The Chamber Opera of USC; through said involvement, he spent his time in undergrad dedicated to providing young singers with performance opportunities as well as organizing unique and creative programming to equip the modern voice teacher through workshops and seminars. Allen was also an active member of LA Opera’s College Advisory Committee, where he helped plan and host LA Opera’s inaugural College mixer night.
He currently resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and serves as the operations manager for VoiceScienceWorks, a non-profit organization committed to helping vocalists translate challenging, cutting-edge science into immediately applicable language.
Georgia Webber is a comics artist and editor and vocal arts experimenter. She is best known for her debut graphic memoir, Dumb: Living Without A Voice (Fantagraphics 2018), the chronicle of her severe vocal injury and sustained vocal condition which causes her pain from using her voice. This difficult experience lead her to work as a Craniosacral Therapist, a meditation facilitator, and as an improvising musician, blending elements of healthcare, body awareness and creative expression within constraints. She has extended her love of the voice into the community with a project called MAW Vocal Arts. MAW hosts a vocal arts showcase event every few months in Toronto, Ontario, her home, as well as a weekly practice session called Breathing Music where people can explore breath through deep listening, movement, meditation and sounding practices.
Through her own processes of chronic pain - in her stomach, voice, and hands - Georgia has turned to trauma to understand beings and their bodies. She is currently at work on an experimental comics project entitled Dark Whole, aiming to describe clearly and with great poetry what trauma is, how it heals, and how we can all be more conscious of each others' suffering.
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