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MUSIC 3N03 Vocal Methods

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Rachel Rensink-Hoff



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: by appointment

Course Objectives:


The fundamentals of singing, including breath control, tone production, diction, stage presence and repertoire selection will be introduced in a group setting.



Singing is one of the most natural forms of self-expression, incorporating both the intellectual and aesthetic aspects of music. This course will provide you the opportunity to develop your singing voice through the study, analysis and performance of group and solo vocal repertoire.



In the performance of any instrument, the ability to sing is a musical asset. Regardless of one’s area of specialization, most professional musicians become involved in singing. Practical situations often require one to demonstrate a musical idea with the voice, e.g. teach a vocal class, coach singers, conduct a church or community choir, or demonstrating a phrase for instrumentalists. The foundational learning provided in this course can be very helpful in preparing for the future.

Voice Technique: Healthy vocal production, including the discussion and practice of body alignment, breathing, awareness, phonation, tone quality, resonance, and intonation.

Artistic Performance: Singing repertoire with expressive musicianship e.g. phrasing, rhythmic vitality, dynamic contrast, diction, style, communication, dramatic energy and characterization.

Confidence: Personal poise and stage presence as natural outcomes of thorough preparation.

Self-Discovery: Discovery of self through the empowerment of one’s own voice. This is a highly participatory class. Your involvement and commitment determines your success. Discover yourself as you develop your voice, and most important, enjoy the journey!

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

The Singing Book 3rd ed. by Meribeth Dayme & Cynthia Vaughn

Notebook/binder for notes and hand-outs, manuscript paper for vocal exercises

Recording device for solo performances

Method of Assessment:


35%             1 Duet (5%) and 3 Solos (10%)

30%             4 Written Assignments (5%, 5%, 10%, 10%)

15%             3 Score Studies (5%)

20%             Written Test (covers Textbook readings, handouts, lectures and discussions)



Written assignments will include the following:

1. Reflection on Singing, DUE January 13

2. Voice Profile and Repertoire, Selection DUE January 27

3. Recording Review,DUE March 9

4. Final Reflection & Oral Report, DUE before or on April 6


3 Score Studies (1 for each of the three solo performances--see scheduled performances)


Spelling, grammar, writing style and presentation are considered in the evaluation of all written assignments.



Solos will be evaluated according to the following criteria, with level of previous singing experience in mind:

ACCURACY (Notes, Rhythm, Precision, Tempo)

TONE & DICTION (Vowels, Consonants, Tone Quality, Resonance, Intonation)

VOCAL PRODUCTION (Breathing, Posture, Energy)

MEMORIZATION & MUSICIANSHIP (Communication, Expression, Phrasing, Interpretation, Dynamics)

STAGE PRESENCE (Focus, Confidence, Characterization)

IMPROVEMENT (Incorporation of feedback from instructor & peers)

Performance dates can be found on the course schedule.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignments will be accepted with a 10% deduction per day (up to 50% deducation per week).  It is important that assignments be completed on time as they coincide with in-class performance work.

Missed performances with no advanced notice cannot be deferred.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Course Schedule: