Episode 11 – Technique Isn’t Everything | The Learning Domains | Be Ready! | VocalizeU Winter Retreat


In todays show we share valuable thoughts and advice with you that can help artists, songwriters and teachers improve their game. These thoughts were all part of the content at the VocalizeU Winter Retreat that we attended recently in February 2014; an event everyone should attend one day! Listen to the show for a deeper understanding, but for now here’s the gist.

Charlie Mac

For the new music segment we showcased the funky Charlie Macaulay. Charlie works with Steve regularly in Southampton and has recently signed a deal with legendary record label Acid Jazz, and this track will be the planned single:


Please go and check her out! Her website is:



Technique isn’t everything…

Technique is very important, but many put too much emphasis on technique. For an artist who is striving for a unique sound, and an appealing set of songs, style and expression comes first. Technique is there to make sure that you can embellish your songs with these extras to optimum effect, and without damage to your instrument.

If technique happens to be held too highly in the priorities of a singer then connection with the material and the listener can suffer.

Don’t get me wrong, we understand how technique can be an obsessive trait. Technique can often allow a singer to quickly hit notes they could never hit before, or feel really comfortable after years of tension or discomfort. This leads to a love of technique… a love that’s hard to let go of. Also, ‘bad’ technique (basically anything other than perfect) has been seriously scalded by many teachers. They would label it as a ‘career ender’ to their students and beat any signs of it out of them instantly, but in truth our voices can balance between technique and style really well with a bit of care and attention.


One for the teachers on teaching techniques and knowing your students

This particular workshop was run by Tamara Beatty and was based around the learning domains of a person; the cognitive, the effective, and the psychomotor domains. The cognitive is how you process information. The effective is how you deal with it on an emotional level, i.e. how you feel about it. The psychomotor is the resulting physical manifestation of the information, or the application of the knowledge.

Tamara Beatty

Everyone has a different way of dealing with each of these domains, but typically a lot of emphasis is put on the cognitive, and the effective domain is a little undervalued. However creatives like singers live in the effective domain more so than other professions and so voice teaching must, on some level, recognise this process a little more.

Because of this cognitive sway there can be situations where information overload occurs, or a student can crave information and overload themselves. In those cases it’s a useful tool to be able to spot this and move over to more application based exercises and experiences, rather than explanations.

You can check out Tamara at her website for more information about her and her teaching:



Being ready no matter what!!

There were a whole bunch of guests at the retreat, and they had a common trait with this title. Everyone, first and stevie mackeyforemost, was obsessed with perfecting their craft and living it day in, day out.

A great coach, Stevie Mackey, first got picked up as a backing vocalist when talking his way backstage at a Lalah Hathaway concert and sang for her. His backing vocalist career went on from there and he has sung for Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, not mention vocal coaching the Jacksons. But he was totally ready to bust out a song when Lalah threw down the gauntlet that night.

Billy Mann, P!nks long term songwriter started his career in the depths of despair unable to pay rent in San billy mannFrancisco. He ended up on a park bench by the quay with only his guitar, and got prodded by police to move on. At the next bench he met a strolling couple who were on honeymoon. He got chatting to them randomly about how they met and then had an idea. If he could write them a song about how they got together would they give him $10? Turns out they said yes, so he went and wrote it in 5 minutes. They ended up loving it so much they paid him $100. Another couple walked past shortly after and he did the same! By the end of the day he had multiple hundreds of dollars and went back to pay his rent. His career took of later that year when one of his songs reached No.1 in the UK in the early 80’s.


Kari Kimmel, who is a writer for film and TV, has had many placements in shows like True Blood and films like Dream Girls and World War Z. She was dropped by her label twice and her solo career was over. But she decided to see how she could carve out a living with what she had by selling her songs somewhere else. Knowing a little about the industry she moved into media placements and quickly began to see success. Working with a good guitarist and producer, she ensured she was always quick off the mark to write songs from a request from the agent, thus securing the placement. Obviously writing awesome songs helped to secure that too, but being ready and inspired means you’re the proverbial ‘early bird’.


The essence of all this is that passion will fuel your development and spur you to perfect your craft, not money or fame. If money fuels you then you aren’t likely to see a sustainable and enjoyable career, or make it through the hard times. That passion and development will stand you in good stead to being ready for any opportunity or situation that happens to present itself. Do it for the love!


That’s it!

Signing out, we’d love to let you know about another unbelievable event in the summer in Los Angeles. The VocalizeU Artist Intensive is in Hollywood for 10 days in July. It is 10 hours of pure singing and artistry bliss, every single day you’re there. You get umpteen awesome voice lessons, workshops, songwriting classes with respected writers, concerts, and you get to perform your stuff. It’s great for teachers too as there is so much education from the worlds leading coaches and voice researchers. Go and look at the schedule here and sign up instantly!


Hope you enjoyed the show. Leave us a comment if you want to feedback about us and our content… we love hearing from you.