Preparing Non-Native Singers To Sing Professionally In English
By Jeffrey Zagaria
In my professional experience I have sung in approximately ten languages, studying the nuance of each native accent. Furthermore, over the years I have had several clients who were non-native speakers who needed accent reduction for their performances and recording sessions in the USA.
As I worked full-time in my private practice and with my company Zagaria Vocal Academy LLC, www.zagariavocalacademy.com , my projects the Zagaria Vocal Method (ZVM), my teaching method, “Know Your Voice” (KYV) lesson books, workbooks, and KYV video series were in development. I recognized that non-native speakers of English had a diverse amount of vocal issues to overcome as well as striving to keep good vocal habits. I had a now known Russian student who would later become a ZVM teacher in Moscow. She was working on her album in English. At one point, when I had a too many students and not enough time, I recommended that she find an accent reduction specialist. I would have loved to continue to work with her but I didn’t have the time. My student found a well known accent teacher in LA and began working with her. I noticed that every time they worked together, my client would develop terrible vocal habits relating to singing. The accent reduction specialist’s methodology was actually hurting my clients ability to sing and potentially damaging her voice.
At that same time (approximately 3.5 years ago from the writing of this article), I had two clients who were degreed Speech Pathologists. I would ask them about ideas that I had pertaining to the singing and speaking voice as well as accent issues. Jean Bachrach happened to be working on her singing voice with me for several years at that time and was one of the Speech Pathologists on my client roster. I asked Jean to take on my Russian student and work with her issues with me as a team. This was the beginning of the ZVA’s Accent Reduction Program. We’ve come a long way since then, developing our methodology, co-authoring a first draft of our Accent Reduction Method Book, setting up group classes, reaching students online from the USA and several different countries. It’s been a wonderful adventure!
I will be planning to write more about our unique ZVM accent reduction method more in future posts. For more information please visit the accent reduction page of the ZVA.
Above you will find ZVA’s Accent Reduction brochure for two courses: ZVA”s “Sing Like An American”, and ZVA’s “Speak Like An American”.