The Role of Observation and Mentorship in Voice Pedagogy Training

Julia Gerhard, Ana Flavia Zuim, Adam Lloyd, David E. Rosow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Voice teachers are seeking increasing amounts of pedagogical instructions in the form of observerships, coursework, and clinical experiences. Yet to date there has been no formalized attempt to categorize or set guidelines for these educational experiences. Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate (a) the number of hours of observations required or electively completed during pedagogical training (voice lessons, masterclasses) and clinical observations; (b) the number of hours of mentorship (critical observation of a student by a mentor) during pedagogical training; and (c) differences in the training backgrounds of voice teachers based on the level of training, position, and genre. Methods: We distributed a survey to 700 voice teachers (102 respondents) of various levels from private to university and across age range of students. The surveys contained questions about the role of observation in the teacher's training. We ran descriptive analysis and examined whether the proportion of participants with ≥10 observation and mentorship hours was different for classical versus the other musical genres. Results: The number of respondents actively observing and being observed during their training was low. Most observations occurred within the classical and musical theater singing styles. Mentored critical observations of students were lower across genres than student observations, with the majority of respondents (67–92%) reporting no hours in genres other than classical. For all genres except classical, there was a larger percentage of respondents who reported teaching the genre than who reported receiving pedagogical training in the genre. Reported clinical voice observation hours were low (28.4% with ≥10 hours), and few respondents had >0 hours of operating room observation experience (11.8%). Conclusions: There is wide disparity across genres in the number of hours of observation and critical mentoring, and voice teachers’ genre of instruction does not frequently match with the genre of pedagogical instruction they have received. More research is needed to determine the significance of this mismatch and whether increased hours of observation and mentoring would benefit voice instruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)160.e1-160.e6
JournalJournal of Voice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Mentorship
  • Observation
  • Pedagogy
  • Singing voice
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • LPN and LVN
  • Speech and Hearing


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