Last week, Tom and Laura went to sunny California for the first annual International IVA Teachers Conference: ‘IVACON’. Whilst it would have been a great opportunity for a holiday, we were actually working, learning and networking with other teachers from around the world.
The amount of information that was available on vocal pedagogy, performance, and styling was just incredible, and our brains are completely stuffed full of information. Add that to full 9am – 6:30pm days of classes, and you can imagine the information overload we are suffering from!
IVACON 2014 brought together 74 teachers of varying levels in-person in California, and another 31 attending virtually online from countries across the globe. That’s not including our 10 IVA Founding Directors; 6 of whom are Master Teachers and another 3 are Certified IVA teachers.
As Certified Teachers with IVA, we have access to all kinds of musical knowledge and expertise around the world, helping us to be better teachers to help you with your voice and performance. The IVA conference (IVACON) allowed us to connect in-person with so many of the teachers whose knowledge they freely share.
The classes at IVACON were designed to further our education as both teachers and singers. We had classes from our six Master Teachers, two vocal scientists, two performance coaches, a vocal hygienist (yes, really!) and our very own Tom had his global teaching moment in the business class.
Our vocal scientist guest speakers were Dr Karen Kochis-Jennings and Dr Kenneth Thom, who research what the voice does when you sing (including some very complicated mathematics and principles of acoustics). Both of these scientists use singers to further their research, and in the future IVA is planning on getting some of our teachers involved in it, to help further develop the vocal pedagogy and understanding of the voice and how it works.
Our performance coaches were Rhonda Carlson who works with singers of all genres, and our star guest speaker John Fluker who was the Musical Director for Gladys Knight and the Pips. We had a lot of fun in their interactive classes, and learnt so much from both of these speakers; our students will benefit greatly from their teachings and we can’t wait to share their tips!
The reason for all this different education is to try and build as comprehensive a background for our voice teachers as possible. The better we understand the mechanics of the voice, the purpose and function of vowels, and how to select and use tools better in your lessons, the more efficient and precise voice teachers we are; which means you benefit more as a singer.
There were so many teachers at different levels of certification from around the world, conversations over dinner and in the evening (really anytime we weren’t listening to classes!) were effectively us all ‘geeking out’ over anything and everything voice-related. The thing we love about IVA that is that regardless of the level you teach at as a teacher, everyone has something to bring to the table. We all have unique experiences and takes on the voice and teaching, and in this nurturing and positive environment we have the opportunity to discuss, disagree and hash it out amongst us.
Sure, we teach the same technique, but there are many different ways to use the tools we teach to advance your voices (and our own!). Learning from each other’s experiences really helps us to grasp a firmer understanding of the voice and how to be a better teacher.
This conference taught me so much and furthered my knowledge of the voice and science behind what we teach. Not to mention I’ve made a whole list of new songs I want to try from hearing them at our Open Mic night and in various classes!
As a teacher at the beginning of my career and a newly certified IVA Instructor I, I can really benefit from attending this type of teacher training, because it gives me access to so many different people. IVA has so many teachers who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with each other, that I was able to discuss things outside of class and gain an even deeper understanding of what I’d just learnt.
However, besides what we were taught in class, I learnt the true meaning of being part of a global group of teachers: together we are better and stronger than we ever can be apart.
By this, I mean that sharing our personal teaching experiences (and sometimes frustrations!) can help another teacher that might have the same things going on in their studio. The same goes for me – by sharing some things I have experienced, I have been given feedback that has clarified why something worked as well as it did, or vice-versa, why some exercises don’t work as well as I think they’re going to. I have developed so much as a teacher throughout this week, and I am still trying to process things I’ve learnt. Not to mention how lucky I feel to have new friends across the world that I can chat to via the internet, for both vocal conversations and fun stuff!
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend IVACON 2014, and to meet so many wonderful teachers in person. It was absolutely worth attending, and I am already looking forward to IVACON 2015!
My experience of IVACON is slightly different to Laura’s. As a Director of IVA and someone that is responsible for helping to coordinate and deliver the conference; a lot of my day is spent working on and at IVACON, so the teachers attending both in-person and online can have the best experience possible.
Despite this, so many teachers were very thoughtful and kind to me; offering me food, drinks, assistance with setting up equipment and even explaining parts of lectures that I missed when helping at another class. I myself taught a business and marketing class with 4 other speakers, which was an brilliant experience for me. Being able to share my own expertise and experience in that area to help other teachers build their businesses really helps me to grow as an educator.
We have so many amazing teachers in IVA, and I feel so privileged to work with and learn from these teachers, and I am lucky to call many of them my friends too.
As a company, putting on such a large scale conference as this just 12 months after IVA’s launch is a daunting task. However the response, energy and enthusiasm from our teachers just blew me away and made all the late nights and hard work worth it. Standing on the first night in front of all the teachers, watching them networking with each other and talking about what they were looking forward to, made me very proud of what IVA, as a company, has accomplished in such a short period of time.
As a teacher, the standard of education we received was second to none; such comprehensive explanations, and descriptions of the tools we use and why they do and don’t always work, the functions of the voice and ways to improve your teaching, have left me better equipped to teach voices and get singers to where they want to be quicker.
So, you can see that even though we were both attending conference from different sides of the fence, the benefits that we have both taken away are astounding. The biggest benefit we have as voice teachers is to be a part of a global group like IVA, if we were going this alone, we’d have no opportunity to attend conferences, let alone have access to all the comprehensive information we need to advance your voices in the quickest, healthiest & lasting ways possible.
If you think you might be interested in becoming part of our global network of Certified Teachers with IVA; check out the IVA website and get in touch to talk to us! If you are thinking of becoming a teacher, or just want to further your own knowledge of the voice, you should definitely attend our Masterclass with Guy Babusek on Wednesday 5th June; booking details to follow, so keep the date in your diary.
That’s all for now, folks! If you want to benefit from our learnings at IVACON, get in touch with us and book a lesson. We look forward to seeing you at the studio soon.