My name is John Scott. I’ve been a professional vocal coach in the Bay Area for over 20 years, and have studied voice under Seth Riggs, Lynn Wickham, and Raz Kennedy. Most people assume I studied music in college, but I didn’t. I was a molecular biology major! You might think that my stint as a scientist was a step away from music, but I don’t. Singing is an art dependent on principles of biology and physics. I’ve found that utilizing the science behind the art, balancing this particular yin and yang, makes for effective and lasting results.
In fact, my background in academic research has been the framework for the development of my vocal technique, Voice Breakthrough, which I have been developing over the past 10 years. It is an integration of contemporary and classical vocal techniques, along with elements adapted from the Alexander Technique applied to specific muscles involved with mastery and control of the voice. My goal is to help you achieve a full blend of the chest and head voice throughout the entire range of your voice, while allowing you to maintain your own unique style and individual character. I see amazing transformations in students who apply these principles, and enjoy seeing how the fulfillment of these goals can lead to greater confidence in life.
As an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Cruz, I had the opportunity to clone a gene. It was a long term research project, and I got lucky and made a minor discovery. My dream was to merge biology and music somehow, but I couldn’t think of any paths that brought the two together. I ended up dropping the DNA work and going into singing full time, because I felt a calling to singing that I could no longer avoid. I performed in groups, spiritual communities, made records, and had an amazing time with it, but found the integration of science and music I was looking for as I got into full time voice instruction and music arranging.
I found a common problem with most singers. There is a break between chest voice and head voice, there are established methods of blending the two: Keep your larynx stable, use good air support, and activate the vocal cords. However, with most of my students, there was a build up of pressure as the student sang into their high notes, and no matter what I tried, we could not avoid constriction: the tendency to squeeze the muscles that surround the larynx. If they lessened the pressure, they got falsetto. One day, as someone observed me teaching with a particularly difficult case, the observer suggested jaw tension may be an issue. I looked into some basic jaw relaxation techniques, and found that the pressure that was required to sing the high notes was reduced in all my students.
I began revisiting the Alexander Technique, which I had studied earlier under John Baron, who started a school for the technique here in Berkeley. I realized that not only was tension in the jaw common practically every singer, but that tension in the tongue was an even greater culprit. I devised a series of exercises over the next five years that systematically released the neck, jaw, and tongue, while maintaining support and activation of the vocal cords.
All of the classical and contemporary techniques of singing that had been taught but had consistent trouble in teaching to my students were easy. As these large muscle groups (I call them outer muscles) became coordinated and released, the powerful and effective muscle groups that give the singer a seamless blend of chest voice and head voice became active. In essence, I solved the problem of the build up of pressure on the high notes, and created Voice Breakthrough.
I find that these methods are helpful for beginners, working singers, and professional touring artists. Beginners love it because it offers a clear roadmap of how to develop the voice with clear instructions on what to do. Working singers love it because they can sing high notes without a build up of pressure and constriction, and can effectively blend chest voice and head voice. Touring recording artists rely on it because it allows them to sing long shows night after night without developing vocal strain, and yet increases their power and range.
Putting these methods into a clear format that people could access to me four years. I worked with a variety of writers, designers, and coaches to create a roadmap that was simple and easy to understand. My dilemma was that it wasn’t enough to give a new student the release exercises that free the neck, jaw, and tongue. But the method I used, where I student could feel the difference between the right muscle and the wrong muscle was my guiding light. I completed the program by creating a kinesthetic, or body based method for every aspect of singing: Vocal Cord, Breathing, Outer Muscle, Larynx and Pharynx. In this way, once a student discovers the good muscles that control the voice in a healthy, pressure neutral way, they are free to sing whatever style of music they want: Rock, Classical, Musical Theater, or R&B. I have a great variety of students because the principles of Voice Breakthrough are the same regardless of musical style.