A Transgender Voice Teacher’s Recommendations for Working with Transgender Singers
By Eli Conley
I’ve talked to many voice teachers in recent years who are seeking guidance about how to work with transgender and non-binary singers.
This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I’m a private voice teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a transgender man who has worked with many transgender and non-binary voice students. I also lead community singing classes for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual people and allies. I’ve sung in many choirs, and taken voice lessons from some wonderful teachers. I’m also a performing singer-songwriter who records and tours regularly.
All of these experiences have led me to believe that voice teachers, choir directors, and other voice professionals can do a lot to shift the culture of singing spaces, transforming them from spaces that are often unintentionally hostile to transgender and non-binary singers into spaces of support and gender liberation.
I was inspired to write this article after a discussion about working with transgender singers came up on an online listserv for teachers trained in Somatic Voicework™, the body-based voice training program created by Jeanie LoVetri.
One of the things I love about Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method is that Jeanie LoVetri teaches that to achieve a healthy, versatile voice, singers of all genders and genres of music must strengthen both their head and chest registers, and learn to blend them together into a coordinated mix in the middle voice. Watching her teach a cisgender baritone to access his head register for the first time in order to make his whole voice stronger made so much sense to me as a transgender singer. I had to burst open the gender boxes that people placed on me as a young person, and I know the emotional and vocal freedom that has come from that. Why should singers let gender expectations hold them back from using the full range of their voices? [Read more…] about Creating Gender Liberatory Singing Spaces