Voice YourPotential™

The Estill Model

Jo Estill developed her model of vocal function through ground breaking research that spanned over twenty years (1974-2001).*

ESTILL Teaching, Level One, Spain 2008

While Jo Estill was a singer and singing teacher herself, and was motivated by the question 'how am I doing this?' when she sang, her research led her to an understanding of the primary function of the larynx.

What does an understanding of primary function reveal? Fascinatingly, it reveals that the larynx is a valve with the primary function of closing to protect the airway into the lungs, for example when we swallow. Speaking and singing are secondary, learned functions. Estill shows how conflicts between the primary function and the learned function can be the cause of problems we encounter with our voices. Identifying the difference between the primary and the learned function helps an individual to develop greater control over vocal structures and ultimately to express themselve with ease and flair.

The primary function is common to all human beings and understanding it is at the heart of the Estill model. This is why Estill it is a universal model of vocal function and why it can be applied to all types of voice use, both in singing and speaking. Estill is a relevant training tool for a surprisingly wide variety of people; in music, theatre, education and business.

The focus is on the craft of voice: developing tools and skills. An understanding of vocal anatomy and physiology is the starting point. Aesthetic and cultural bias are not prioritised. Jo Estill suggested that voice training is optimized when separated into three disciplines:

Craft - Artistry - Performance Magic

Once the craft is mastered, the singer or speaker is free to apply it appropriately their art with the aim of creating performance magic.

In 1988 Jo Estill founded Estill Voice Training to teach the craft of singing and speaking. Estill Voice Training offers a clear and concise vocabulary for describing the anatomy and physiology of the voice. It teaches exercises and strategies for gaining masterful control over vocal structures. The content of Estill Voice Training courses is the same the world over and the format of courses remains largely faithful to Jo's original design.

Estill Voice Training

Training is split into two levels;

  • Level I - Figures for Voice (usually a 3-day course)
  • Level II - Six Voice Qualities (usually a 2-day course)

It is possible to take Levels I & II together or separately. Together they cover the complete Estill model. Attendance at a Level I course is a prerequisite for a Level II course.

Levels I & II include the following elements:

  • Workbooks for each participant containing all the material covered in the course
  • Lecture-style presentations with numerous research, audio and visual examples
  • Large group practice of exercises
  • Small group practice with individual troubleshooting and teaching observation
  • Open sessions applying the model to your chosen sung or spoken piece
  • Ample opportunity for discussion and Q&A

Level I Figures for Voice

13 structures are introduced and explored:

  • Structures are accessed using everyday, familiar triggers, eg a cry, shout or sigh
  • Structures include: true vocal folds, false vocal folds, thyroid cartilage etc.
  • Where is the structure?
  • How does it move?
  • What effect does moving the structure have on the quality of the sound?

13 Figures** For Voice are taught and practiced:

Level II Six Voice Qualities

Building on the knowledge and skills gained in Level I, participants combine the structural options learned to create six archetypal voice qualities. These are Jo™s ˜basic recipes™ for six voice qualities and are precisely defined with physiological, perceptual and acoustic descriptors. Healthy voice production is paramount with each Quality and limitations and risks are thoroughly discussed.

  • Speech
  • Falsetto
  • Sob
  • Twang
  • Opera
  • Belting

These six 'basic recipes' act as a starting point for identifying the myriad of possible voice qualities. There is ample opportunity for discussion of:

  • the singers/speaker™s perception, what they feel and hear as they create a sound
  • the audience™s perception, what they receive as listeners
  • the scientific measurement of what is happening at the physiological level



Introductory and Advanced Workshops & Practice Groups

Introductory workshops are a great way to explore elements of The Model and its application to specific areas of voice study or performance:

  • Belting
  • Choral Singing/Conducting
  • The Business Voice
  • Diction at a Distance
  • Voice Teaching.

If you have already taken Level I & II courses Advanced workshops and Practice Groups are offered for opportunities to refine and deepen your understanding and application of The Model. They will be particularly relevant if you wish to pursue certification in the Estill Model.

See the COURSES page for upcoming courses and events.

See CERTIFICATION page for more information of Estill qualifications.

* http://www.estillvoice.com/pages/research

**The Figures are exercises. The Figures were modelled on what were once 'Compulsory Figures' in ice skating competitions. Estill saw a comparison between the fine control the ice skater has over the edge of the blade with the control an expert voice user has over the voice.

“It’s given me the chance to expand my knowledge and given me excellent tools to apply to my teaching now. An excellent course, organised exceptionally well!”

Level I & II
Marc Yarrow – Musical Director

“Improved my understanding about the true makings of the voice and opened options for choral singing/writing.”

Level I & II
Craig Adams – Composer

“It has really helped me to explore the different functions of the voice in both speech and singing”

Level I & II
Phil Buck – Actor, Singer, MD

“This course has helped me to identify areas of overwork and inefficiency. It has made singing more easy and has helped me to understand the implications of my training so far.”

Level I & II
Sue Appleby – Actress, Singer, MD, Singing Teacher

“Gaining greater specificity of knowledge and control over my on vocal muscles has changed my teaching approach and deepened my toolbox of strategies.”

Level I & II
Laurann Brown – Senior Lecturer, Voice

“Provided better understanding of anatomy and physiology of the voice, as well as providing a toolbox for solving vocal problems and improving stability and control.”

Level I & II (second course experience)
Darren Lord – Musical Director, Performance Coach

“It has transformed my understanding of my voice and given me the tools to progress...”

Level I & II
George Naylor – Singer

“I would recommend this course to anyone interested in voice!”

Level I & II
Andrew Bryant – Singer, Actor, Teacher

“For the role I had to impersonate such divas as Shirley Bassey, Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe to name a few. With Charlotte's excellent methods, clear communication and deep understanding of how the voice works I was able to achieve the vocal confidence needed to sing as these people”

Sophie Griffiths - actress
Coaching for the role of
Little Voice

“I found Saturday very interesting and am already using one or two ideas with some of my new students... well worth the effort.”

Nicola Jenkin ARCM,
Tallis Scholar, BBC Singers

“I’m always searching for teachers who I can trust have a reliable scientific knowledge of how the voice works as they are the teachers who can really build voices – the first place I look is Estill.”

Jeremy Powell
Head of Musical Theatre,
The Urdang Academy.

“Well, I'm delighted to say that the day was completely amazing... I was blown away by the whole experience!
I am going to pursue both the CFP and the CMT... I'm sure it will also improve my own classical and opera singing massively too.”

Estill for Singing Teachers – One-day workshop
Andrew Ashwin
Opera Singer/Singing Teacher, CFP

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