Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Sheila Feay-Shaw


Adolescent Singers, Belt Singing, Contemporary Commercial Music, Vocal Pedagogy


In the developing world of vocal science there are still varying opinions on proper vocal techniques. The classical tradition has been developing for many centuries, however, the area of contemporary commercial music is still in its relative infancy by comparison. Contemporary commercial music, or CCM, refers to all other genres that are non-classical in nature, for example: musical theater, jazz, pop, country, folk, rock, and gospel.

Many undergraduate vocal education programs are not addressing the pedagogical differences in approaches for CCM technique as compared to classical. This is causing educators, such as myself, to have no information about how to properly teach these techniques within the ever-growing non-traditional ensembles that are becoming more and more a part of choral programs around the country.

The purpose of this thesis is to develop a set of vocal exercises that can be used for adolescent singers to develop a healthy technique within CCM styles, mainly focusing on `belt' singing. This study used a qualitative approach that involved participation of four area high school choral directors, two current undergraduate vocal students, and one experienced vocal pedagogue. The investigation of current practices was done through interviews and observations of all participants, as well as through available literature on the subject matter.

The three main research questions that guided this process were based on understanding the differences in pedagogical approaches between classical and CCM music, as well as my own misunderstandings of `belt' voice: Main differences between CCM and classical pedagogy, what the `belt' voice is and how it is used in CCM music, and what exercises can be used with adolescents to develop a healthy CCM technique. Triangulation of the data helped to show that misconceptions and misinformation is guiding teachers in educating their students. The four teachers observed and interviewed, even though very knowledgeable in the area of classical vocal use, lacked a complete understanding of how to work with adolescent voices in the area of CCM.