I am currently Associate Professor of Voice and Voice Pedagogy at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, California. I also maintain a private studio in Los Angeles. Besides voice, my other passions are hot yoga, hiking, and my beloved home state of Montana. I am married to Blake Wilson, Professor Emeritus of Music History at Dickinson College, and I have two grown children: Claire Helding Wilson, photographer, framer, cook and adventurer, and Keanan Helding Wilson, a cellist, composer, soccer player, and avid fisherman. My complete CV and longer biography are available on my website.
My Teaching Philosophy: Singers
In my work as a Vocologist I work with singers who practice and teach a variety of vocal styles;
I teach both classical and Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) vocal technique. I believe that serious singers must train flexibility into their instruments in order to be both viable, and employable, as singing artists. The physical structure of the voice must change to accommodate the style. Therefore, I teach my students the physiological differences from style to style, train them the vocal technique needed to voice that style, and finally, to know where the commonalities occur: for example, high belters can gain enormous flexibility and ease by learning classical techniques for coloratura sopranos, and robust operatic tenors can gain access to their higher register by utilizing CCM techniques at high pitches. In all cases, I guide my students to develop a technique that is healthy and sustainable.
I call myself a Vocologist, a designation which has only recently come into the voice vocabulary. It is important to state that this designation does not currently carry licensure, nor is it certification to provide speech or voice therapy as defined by the AMA, ASHA and other medical and therapeutic organizations.
That said, I use the label vocologist to designate my special education, training and qualifications which allow me to work with a variety of vocalists on a myriad of vocal problems, from simple overuse issues to those singers who are declared recovered from surgery or other medical procedures by their physicians and looking to transition from a post-therapy phase toward an optimal level of vocal activity.
My qualifications include advanced training in Voice Science (also called vocology) at the Summer Vocology Institute of the National Center for Voice and Speech, and short residences at leading voice clinics around the country.
I was awarded the annual Van Lawrence Fellowship in 2005, a research grant given jointly by the Voice Foundation and National Association of Teacher’s of Singing Foundation to “recognize those who have demonstrated excellence in their profession as singing teachers and have also pursued advanced training in voice science.” The award supports a research project (ongoing) devoted to two common yet misunderstood voice disorders, Muscle Tension Dysphonia and Vocal Fold paresis, (also known as “partial paralysis”).
In all cases, I believe that the vocal goals of artistic expression, persuasion and edification can be best achieved through healthy vocal technique. Please go to Helding Voice Studio for more information.