LAS VEGAS, April 2 – 9 – IVACON 2016 took place across the other side of ‘The Pond’, last week and in attendance was your very own Vocal Academy.
What is IVACON? Well in a nutshell it is the annual meeting of IVA (Institute for Vocal Advancement) teachers from across the globe to get together and learn.
Classes in Assessments, Structure, Vowels, Consonants, Lesson Flow, Chest Voice, Best Practices, Auditioning for Musical Theatre, MT Interrupted (observation classes), Ear Training, Working With Kids, Working with the Speaking Voice, and so much more were on offer. All put together by the incredible Master Teachers and their teams made everything run smoothly.
Rachel Black (London) taking a class through comparison of different techniques
Aside from the black and white of the education, #IVACON2016 was fun! It was of course magical to meet up with old friends and make new ones from all different countries and cultures. All with differing backgrounds in music and styles. Some with a huge amount of teach experience and some just starting out. Some with ‘Classical’ voices, some with ‘Musical Theatre’ voices, some with pop and rock voices. And herein lies one of the strengths of the IVA Organisation itself, it’s technique and its philosophy. We were also treated to a Master Class by Brent Barrett, The Phantom Of The Opera from Broadway!!
Brent Barret (The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway) with Vocal Academy’s Bobby Harpur
Lots and lots of Organisations get together once a year for various different reasons, for example across the road in the Hard Rock Hotel, FedEx were running their own conference. There were others too. HOWEVER, the one major difference between these other conferences and the one offered by IVACON. Sacrifice! Those taking part in IVACON were ALL doing this at their own expense! Everybody took the time to close their studio’s for a week and everybody took it at the expense of time with their families, holidays, students and even not taking gigs over two weekends, for a lot of the teachers this is much needed income.
Regarding the conference, for The Vocal Academy every day started at about 7am, breakfast at 7.30am followed by catching up with emails and putting together a future elective for the IVA. Classes started at 9am and aside from a break for lunch, continued on until 6.30pm every day. So while there was good banter about going to Las Vegas for a week and leaving the family behind, the reality is that this opportunity to learn from some of the worlds best brains in Vocal Pedagogy was the overriding central tenet to the point of attending this conference. I can say with confidence that not a second was lost during the week and because of the schedule there had to be one or two classes that clashed and we will have to wait until the recordings are parsed and put together before we can attend those.
Jeffrey Skouson opening the conference with IVA Teachers from across the world
I cannot stress the importance of this technique and philosophy in the whole world of Voice Teaching. It is a cliché to say things like ‘Words alone cannot describe…’, etc. but in this instance, I can honestly say that this cliché holds true. I spoke to Voice Teachers who have been teaching for 20 years (way more experience than yours truly!) and only came to the IVA in the last year or two, who wholeheartedly admitted that their teaching has improved immeasurably by employing our techniques to their students.
The IVA is constantly looking to improve itself It is constantly looking for teachers that fit in with our philosophy and who are hungry to continue their own personal education and development.
As a final note, one of the discussion points during the week was the comparison between a University Degree and IVA Certification – a number of IVA Teachers have music degrees that they rightly cherish! – however the benefit of the IVA is the continual assessment and testing over a career by the organisation, and the opportunity to keep on top of the most up to date scientific and artistic developments in the world of Vocal Pedagogy that separates IVA from most other learning organisations. It really is its strength and it is in this strength that The Vocal Academy hangs it’s hat firmly to, in order that we will continue to grow our knowledge and learning of the voice so that we can pass this on to all of our students in the years ahead.