Read the Episode - Wendy Rolls Part 2

Introduction

Here is the Crescendo Music Education podcast – Episode 42. Now for the second part of my talk with Wendy Rolls, if you missed episode 41, go back and have a listen to episode 41 before you listen to this episode.

About ‘Read the Episode’: Sometimes, we would rather skim visually than listen to a podcast! That’s a great way to learn too! The transcript of episode 042 of The Crescendo Music Education Podcast is below.


Episode 42 “Read the Episode” Transcript

Wendy Rolls’ Nuggets of Fabulous

Debbie

We have arrived at the nuggets of fabulous.


Wendy Rolls
Oh my gosh.


Debbie
I know! Now I actually had the privilege of working with Wendy for one year, Wendy did one day a week at the school, the same school as me, it was wonderful.


Wendy Rolls
It was great, the highlight of my week.


Debbie
It was fabulous, I loved it when Wendy came along and you know, it’s so good to have a colleague and a good one, oh my heavens. So I know you had lots of songs, games, activities, tips, tricks, lots of things up your sleeve. So it could be to do with voice. Obviously, that’s where your focus now. But it doesn’t have to be your nuggets of fabulous can be absolutely anything that you have loved working with students. I reckon it’s hard isn’t it, hard to pick?


Wendy Rolls
Oh, it’s so hard to pick Debbie, so hard. And I’ve listened to your other guests and I race home and write them down because I’ve been listening in the car, you know, driving home from work. I race in and write them down because they’re such good nuggets. I’m feeling the pressure can I say? I haven’t actually taught classroom for quite some time. Well, 2020 I had one year nine class. So that was the last time, so I think that my nuggets are not games and things like that at the moment. I think they’re more practices, they’re not actually things, is that okay?


Debbie
I think that’s wonderful.


Wendy Rolls
Okay. So one is I have become absolutely committed and aware of and committed to helping my students build habits. So that and you know, because you know, my reading and the people I follow and things, so having sequences that and rituals that my students can follow, so that they really build day in day out these habits that they can rely on then. And then you know that you get that myelination the nerve fibers fire together and wire together. Then they’re myelinated together so that it’s a really strong pathway. And we’re creating lasting benefits.

And so for that reason then, this is unplanned that we’ve got a video because I can show you my little card. This is the first one I’ve done and part of my holiday plan is to do more. So the next thing is for them to have a routine, now this is my vocal fitness routine. This is like level one, vocal fitness. And this leads me to my next thing that especially with teenage girls, and I apologise, that’s my thing, but I don’t know, who doesn’t. I am being a tech head for ever.


Debbie
You are a tech nerd Wendy, you so are a tech nerd.


Wendy Rolls
But I have rediscovered paper. And I know that’s because, I have to do it, I have to do it Debbie, because of my Full Focus Planner.


Debbie
I know.


Wendy Rolls
Thanks to Michael Hyatt, this is my planner. Anyway, if you don’t know Michael Hyatt look him up. He’s a very encouraging soul. So I have rediscovered the value of paper. Now this is card and I printed it at home and I did it in Canva. So Canva is my second nugget and I do apologise in advance.


Debbie
I’m sorry, I just go into sort of a bit of a I don’t know I almost hyperventilate with my love for Canva. You know, when anyone mentions Canva I go into this state of euphoria.


Wendy Rolls
I’m glad you say that because other friends have said, Oh, I wish you hadn’t introduced me to Canva, I just spend way too much time on Canva. So if you don’t know Canva is an online platform for graphic design? Yeah. So I have done this and these little cards, so this is their routine. They have first they do Accent Method, second, they do SOVTs which I’ll explain in a minute and third they do another SOVT. So if they do these three exercises and we go through and time it, it takes three minutes. Now if every music teacher did a three minute or a five minute you know you can build up, exercise on the way to school, their voices would be set out in a better place. So I guess this is, can I say this is my third nugget? Can I have 3?


Debbie
You can have as many as you like.


Wendy Rolls
Oh no. This is it, I’m done now. So these are the exercises I’m basing my teaching on with my research and this is what I teach each of my year 8s and in year 9 I’ll be going on a bit further but year 8 this is what we’ve done. So Accent Method was developed by speech pathologists, and it’s been stolen by singing teachers and slightly adapted. it is like Kodaly philosophy, it is a sequence, there is quite a thoughtful well planned sequence. And it disturbs me a little bit when people cherry pick bits from accent method, it’s worth reading about it properly.

In fact, I’ll show you this book as well. If in Doubt, Breathe Out and this is by Ron Morris and Linda Hutchison. Linda’s in the UK, Ron’s at Queensland Conservatorium, but also is about to go to the UK, he spends a couple of months of the year in the UK as well. So this is a book about the Accent Method. It is evidence based breathing, practice breathing training, so it’s about causing more myelination, my favourite thing to do. The last thing is these two little exercise and puppy cheek slides, they are SOVT exercises and I would love people to explore this. Now these semi occluded vocal tract exercises. Have I got time to quickly tell you about this?


Debbie
You sure have, you go.


Wendy Rolls
30 seconds? Okay.


Debbie
No, no. I want to know. I don’t know about these.


Wendy Rolls
Ok, oh don’t you. So I need to do an explanatory bookmark in Canva about SOVTs don’t I.


Debbie
Yes, you do.


Wendy Rolls
Anyway, so semi occluded (closed). So semi half closed, semi occluded half closed vocal tract, which is just a tube from your larynx to your lips. So Semi Occluded Vocal Tract is an exercise which means you somehow partially close off the opening of your mouth so that the pressure above your larynx is balancing the pressure below the larynx. As we breathe out, there’s a bit of back pressure because it’s not all coming out our mouth. Super glottal pressure, sub glottal pressure. The vocal folds are in this state of being very chill to like being in an high fly indoor skydiving thing they’re floating.

And recent modeling by a wonderful man called Ingo Titze shows that they don’t actually bounce/bash together quite as violently when they’re vibrating if you’re using one of these SOVT exercises. So they become more balanced in their, in their little lovely wave motion. So they’re a really good way to exercise a tired voice, a damaged voice, a voice that struggling to come together properly because the rest of the body isn’t quite working well.

And it’s got other benefits as well. But they’re super useful. All of those things are evidence based and underpinned by the science, and also we’ve stolen them. Singing teachers have stolen them from other voice people. So which brings me to, I think I’m more and more pushing the envelope. I have got, if you can’t go “lip trill” you can learn to do a literal. So this little exercise, Shall I show you quickly? This one here is a literal exercise.


Debbie
Yes please.


Wendy Rolls
This one here is just “so, so, so, so, fa, mi, re, do – lip trilled”. Could you hear that through the recording?


Debbie
I could.


Wendy Rolls
So it’s “so, so, so, so, fa, mi, re, do” , okay, and you just do it in the middle of the voice and it’s a mid voice, wake up, connect to the breath, connect to the sound and get everything starting to go. Then the last exercise is the puffy cheeks slide that was coined by Janice Chapman and it’s just like saying “Mmmm wha” or “whooo it’s a hot day”, Whooo whoooo whooo”.

So you’ll glide over a fifth and you do that through your entire range from the lowest note to the highest note, if it’s really uncomfortable, you can use a Doctor Vox and mine doesn’t have water in at the moment because a student was using it and I’ve cleaned it out. But you blow into it and it does a little bubble or you can use a straw now I have bought, online I’m very good at finding the online versions of silicone straws.

I like it being bent because it means it comes to the mouth not the mouth goes to the straw and it gets out of alignment because you want good alignment. So here’s what I carry with me everywhere. This is my water bottle and in it I have a silicone straw so I can go (blows bubbles – do-so-do).


Debbie
Yes.


Wendy Rolls
So I just do that whenever I feel tight tired when I’ve been talking for an hour, so I’ll do that when I finish and it’s just a straw inside a water bottle that I carry in my handbag. So that might be a little nugget for music teachers to carry around and look any straw is useful. The research seems to be showing now that the wider the better or initially it was a narrow straw but once they start introducing the water and the water provides the back pressure then the wider broad straws are more useful. Does all of that make sense?


Debbie
Yeah, that’s fascinating. They are really good nuggets. Honestly, Wendy. I think there are a whole lot of people now driving, thinking I’ve got to write them down when I get home.


Debbie
They are definitely nuggets. They’re fabulous. Now, where can people connect with you? And your work?


Wendy Rolls
I have a website. Yep. So it’s wendy.rolls.id.au.


Debbie
Okay, and we will put it in the show notes.


Wendy Rolls
Why do I say? We get these little habits of phrases don’t we, and if that makes sense. Is that because I’m checking understanding with my students? Or is it just, I’m linguistically lazy?


Debbie
(Laughing) Well maybe both, maybe both. But hold on, we’ll get you to say it again. But yes, we will put these in the show notes. I thought we also should put in the book references too in the show notes.


Wendy Rolls
Can I also show you one other thing?


Debbie
Yeah, yeah. Sure, you go for it. You better give us the website again, because I spoke over you, because I was a bad host.


Wendy Rolls
Oh, never. I’ve lost it, can you believe. I’ts wendy.rolls.id.au and rolls is R O L L S, as in bread, or Royce? I have 1000s of these. I have 1000s of these pamphlets. And can I find one? No, hang on Debbie. I want to show you my pamphlets.


Debbie
Yes, you need to Yes, you find it. In fact, I had a couple of your pamphlets. Oh, no, they’re not the ones I had on my wall.


Wendy Rolls
So this is female voice change and singing. After my master’s study, which was involving interviewing, I think I had five such generous singing teachers who talked to me at length about how they taught adolescent girls, I realised that the literature was very academically dense and inaccessible. And so I did this little pamphlet with my lovely niece Emma, who’s a graphic designer, marketer person.

So we did a timeline, and we tried to do a little graphic representation of these. And again, this is my dedication to quality paper products that you can hand to a girl it won’t get swooshed up in the bottom of the bag with the dead apple and you know, old assignment task sheets. And so it’s got references, it’s got a little bit of data, they do now come with a poster. So I have packs that I sell here and overseas. The cheapest one is I think $18. And I just really sell them to cover my costs. But I believe that they’re a useful thing.

And sometimes I will give a pamphlet to a girl and explain this is voice change and she will burst into tears. Because she’ll go, ooh now I realise what’s happening, you know. Anyway, so it makes me sit at the computer more often. So you can order these on my website. And I also have done these, oh Debbie there were so many things I wanted to tell you. Anyway, I’ve done my little musicianship cards that you probably have seen.


Debbie
Yes I have those.


Wendy Rolls
I’ve done a pitch 21 and a bar 21.


Debbie
By the way we will do this again, Wendy.


Wendy Rolls
Oh Okay, I’ll come back another day.


Debbie
We’ll save the musicianship cards, but people can have a look. Are they on your website?


Wendy Rolls
Oh, there should be I’ve got 400 printed, but I haven’t worked out a price for them.


Debbie
Wendy is going…her homework is going to get them on the website. And we will definitely do another podcast where you can tell us a bit more about this. But we could go into a little more into aural musicianship and things like that.


Wendy Rolls
Yes, because that is something I’m wanting to develop a sequence for studio teachers, just one minute per lesson to work that out. That’s also on my list.


Debbie
Because it really does need to be taught as in my labourious, painful piano story I told earlier, it needs to be taught. It’s not just somethine that every child automatically can do, you know.


Wendy Rolls
No, and back to the habits. You know, if you do it one, one minute a lesson, then you’re building habits in them and that builds audiation. Yes. Let’s talk about that another day.


Debbie
Yes. I like that. But basically, people can find you through your website, that’s the best place?


Wendy Rolls
Yeah, I do have a Facebook page as well. So it’s called Wendy Rolls singing and musicianship because musicianship is still a really big part of what I’m committed to.


Debbie
Excellent. So we’ll put that link too so they can find you on Facebook or your website. Now I’d like to add these two little questions to round off. Because, you know, it’s been my passion for a very long time, music advocacy, doing whatever I can to help preserve, reinstate music in our primary music classrooms, because it’s essential for child development. I just wondered if you had any advice to give our listeners around advocacy?


Wendy Rolls
Yes, ah, look, I wish I had the magic bullet because it frightens me, I think we do not realise we take very, we have a very cavalier attitude to the wonderful stuff that happens in secondary schools and have no real recognition of the groundwork that happens all through primary school. And that’s the only reason it’s possible. So two things.

One is, I just want us to remember that what we think is not nearly as powerful as what we feel. And so we can tell people facts, but if they can feel the benefit of music for themselves, then I think that’s really powerful. Everybody can sing. And that brings me to my soapbox, which I know is coming. So if we can find ways to encourage deputies, principals, other people in power to actually sing and participate in singing, because singing is so accessible, really, and truly. Number one, it makes them feel capable and you know, they know that they actually can do it.

And number two, it makes them feel good. And then you’ve got a chance to actually open up the conversation, I think, you know, that people shut down. They’re not as receptive to facts and figures, sadly, I mean, I think we do need the facts and figures and you and Deb have been fabulous at doing all of this stuff. I mean, I know that you know, this, you know, the feeling and the thinking things, I know that you’ve done both of those things. And we do need to be able to back it up with facts and figures. But, but I think the more we can get those higher ups. And the trouble is that those higher ups may well have had a bad experience with music themselves and feel deeply, deeply inept, or incapable. And it’s probably my attitude to sport really.

Debbie
No, but you’re right, that fear, the fear that they are feeling course of previous experiences, or whatever reasons. So I love that. So focus on that feeling. And you know, things like getting the audience to participate when you’re doing a choral, yes. And your administration is sitting there. They’re singing along as well and they’re feeling that group joy, you know.


Wendy Rolls
Yeah, yeah.


Debbie
Bring them along to pub choir if you can. Yeah, that’s wonderful.


Wendy Rolls
The second thing, I just had a second thing is, I suspect that the secondary schools are blissfully unaware of the threat that is coming their way. And maybe it’s worth mobilising some of the secondary teachers and secondary instrumental directors, whatever to say, are you aware that the quality of the student you’re going to get is not going to be continued if this decline in classroom participation in primary school continues.


Debbie
That is certainly good advice to try, it’s a little bit of the silo problem. I was just thinking, like, how much music education, well, music generally, but music education does operate in silos. And I think it’s so important that we form these connections and understanding about what’s happening in each other’s silos.


Wendy Rolls
Because you, because you can perform on your own, then only yourself, only your school knows how good you are. Whereas in sport, you go off and compete against another school. So you get to compete and you also are exposed to what other schools are doing. It’s not quite so, not quite the same, you know, do you understand what I’m saying?


Debbie
Yes, I sure do. I think that is great advice around advocacy, which does lead to the soapbox.

Wendy Rolls’ Soapbox


Wendy Rolls
Is that everybody has a right to be able to sing, and nobody has the right to stop anybody singing, and nobody has the right to tell someone else they’re a bad singer. It’s like saying, You’re a bad walker, you don’t walk well. I’m sorry. That’s the way I walk. And it might not be the most efficient way to walk. But that’s how I walk. Are you saying I should use a wheelchair? Because I have a very bad walking system, you know, singing is, is I believe a God given gift to our souls.

And it’s like, if you say someone is a bad singer, you’re saying they’re defective as a person. And nobody has the right to say that. Even though we’ve turned music into a competitive thing. It shouldn’t be. It’s a participatory thing. There’s nothing wrong with aiming for excellence absolutely but it’s something that everybody should have access to. I have, and this is not a solo story. I have a student at the moment who’s in her 60s. And she was told as a child, she couldn’t sing. And she’s been I think damaged by that. I mean, that’s, she would say that herself. And she’s been hurt certainly by that and that’s not an unusual story.

So I think I’m shocked that it still happens, you know that, that you still hear stories about children being told, oh you just mine? I would have thought that it was something that perhaps did only happen 60 years ago, but I’m worry that perhaps it doesn’t. So, you know, go our music classes. And yes, have auditions but the auditions can be for placement or to say, Oh, you’re in this choir rather than that choir not you’re in the choir or you’re not in the choir, which surely doesn’t really happen much anymore. Surely, I think, honour the singing of other people.


Debbie
I think that is wonderful. And that is a perfect, perfect place to stop our first zoom interview. Lovely Wendy Roll.


Wendy Rolls
Aww thank you.


Debbie
And we will do it again.


Wendy Rolls
It’s my pleasure, Thank you and my privilege. Thank you so much.

Sign Off

This podcast is brought to you by Crescendo Music Education, connecting, supporting, and inspiring music educators. You’ll find links to Crescendo’s social media platforms in the show notes. Please connect with me and be part of the Crescendo community. You might consider becoming a Crescendo member. You can access hundreds of files, worksheets, printables workbooks, repeat workshops, and webinars for a low annual fee and receive great discounts on events. So come and connect with me, Debbie O’Shea. See you in the socials.

Just for Laughs

As we know laughter relieves stress. Don’t lose sight of the funny side of life.

What do you call a man on a bed of leaves?

Russell.


Links Mentioned in the Episode:

Book recommendations:

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