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Professional Voice Practice - MA / MFA / PgDip

Currently viewing course to start in 2022/23 Entry. Switch to 2023/24 Entry

Realise your potential as a creative practitioner and train to be a professional voice coach at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. You will gain highly specialised knowledge in a range of professional contexts and develop advanced expertise as a voice coach, teacher or performer....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location Bournville
  • School Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

 From January 2022, the School of Acting has moved and is no longer based in Millennium Point. We moved to Ruskin Hall in Bournville in January and this will continue to be the location for our acting courses for the 2022/23 academic year.

Realise your potential as a creative practitioner and train to be a professional voice coach at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. You will gain highly specialised knowledge in a range of professional contexts and develop advanced expertise as a voice coach, teacher or performer.

Through reading, discussion, reflective writing and practising as a coach or teacher, you will relate theory and practice and learn the ways of thinking and working of a professional voice practitioner. Through full engagement with the opportunities the course provides, you will be prepared for work as a voice practitioner in private practice, in Further or Higher Education, in business, in theatre, performing arts and media.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this course?

The starting point is work on yourself: i.e. your voice and its source in your body and breath. It is the experiential understanding of this process and listening to your colleagues on the course that informs your own pedagogy. At Royal Birmingham Conservatoire we advocate a physiological and imaginative approach to voice work that develops the 'practical, intellectual, physical and emotional skills of students in an atmosphere that is enabling, supportive and empowering'*.

Through core learning based on how the voice works, your imagination will fuel the development of your personal artistry and development. If you aspire to learn in-depth, specialist knowledge in professional voice practice, then this programme will not only teach you the skills, but broaden your vital industry connections.

The foundation of the course is rooted in the principles and practices of healthy vocal use. Exploring topics such as vocal function and dysfunction, phonetics and accent analysis, you will build an in-depth awareness of professional voice practice. The content of the course spans from teaching you practice-based methods and strategies to theoretical research.

We will help you establish links to industry through our strong connections with leading companies such as the RSC, Birmingham REP Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. We have a working relationship with the Royal Shakespeare Company and with the company’s Head of Voice, Kate Godfrey. We also have connections at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Voice Clinic which can offer students insights to clinical practice. Our Professional Voice Practice course has been developed with the support of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Graduates have gone on to fulfil very exciting careers, working professionally at prestigious organisations such as the RSC, The Royal Court, the Minack, The Cambridge Theatre, the Mountview Theatre Academy and ALRA.

With regular masterclasses and a compulsory placement module you will gain excellent insight and experience of working professional practice. Your course will be led by a mixture of visiting and in-house tutors, all of which have extensive industry experience. Alex Taylor, your course director, has worked internationally with schools such as Juilliard. Alex’s influential background brings a wealth of experience to the course, bringing you comprehensive, informed and exciting study. Our visiting tutors’ range of experience varies from work with professional theatre companies, the field of film and television, Voice Care Network UK, NHS Direct, the BBC, UK Borders and many more.

*(Federation of Drama Schools Core Principles)

Dayle Torwanicky Quote

I applied to a number of voice programmes, but I was really attracted to Birmingham at the audition when I met Alex Taylor and Stephen Simms. They were engaging and took an interest in my personal career path from the moment I met them. The programme was unique in its mix of practice and research – it was truly a perfect blend. The strong practice-based foundation got me ready to work and teach, but the research component helped me learn to challenge pedagogy and explore the bedrock of voice and speech work. I felt and still feel that with this mix of practice and research, I have the knowledge and power to discover the solutions for challenges in my professional life.

Dayle Torwanicky, NYC-based Teaching Artist

Why Choose Us?

  • The course was developed hand-in-hand with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s voice department, which means the content has been carefully crafted to provide you with the best, industry-required knowledge and voice skill.
  • The course provides you with an overview of a range of approaches to working with the voice through working with a range of highly-qualified and gifted practitioners. Methodologies include: Linklater, Estill and Berry.
  • We have a working relationship with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s Voice Clinic, offering students the unique chance to explore professional voice practice in an authentic, specialised and engaging way.
  • Here at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire we are proud to be a part of Birmingham City University. Unlike other acting schools, as a student you are not only part of an accredited drama school but also a recognised University.
  • Our industry connections stem from internal and external sources. Our staff have vast, and notable experience, both at home and internationally. Staff have worked with with a range of individual, companies and projects, including the BBC, the NHS, British repertory and festival theatres and much more.
  • Enhance your employability by learning an in-depth specialised knowledge of professional voice practice. Graduates have gone on to succeed in the field of voice practice, working on well-known productions such as the RSC’s Matilda, teaching in accredited drama schools, working in Further and Higher Education, running their own successful businesses and developing their private practice.

Professional Voice Overview

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Open Days

Join us on campus at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire for an insight into life as a Conservatoire student.

Next Open Day: Thursday 1 December 2022

Register your interest

Entry Requirements

This course is likely to appeal to those who already have an interest in and some knowledge of voice: actors, drama graduates, teachers, speech therapists, singers and musicians with a particular interest in vocal music.

Essential Requirements
Essential

You should normally possess a first degree, performance diploma or equivalent qualification.

You will also be considered if you do not meet the above entry requirements, but possess an appropriate level of performance skills and professional experience.

Admission to this course is via audition and interview. Please see our Guidance for Applicants for more information.

For full details and advice about auditions and interviews, please visit the Acting Auditions and Interviews section of the Conservatoire website.


English language requirements

  • IELTS overall score 7.0 (6.5 in all components) or equivalent is required.

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £11,300 in 2022/23
  • £1256 per 20 credits

Fees for Part-time students

This course can be studied on a Part-time study basis. The cost per year of study is based on credit requirements for that year.

Award: MFA

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 years
  • £11,300 in 2022/23

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £7,536 in 2022/23
  • Part Time
  • 2 years
  • £1,256 in 2022/23

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £17,500 in 2022/23

Award: MFA

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 2 years
  • £17,500 in 2022/23

Award: PgDip

Starting: Sep 2022

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees
  • Full Time
  • 1 year
  • £11,670 in 2022/23

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form and equal opportunities PDF form instead.

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy. We suggest you budget £50 for this although you may wish to purchase additional books and playscripts.

Placement expenses (optional)

If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Subscriptions (optional)

You may wish to purchase subscriptions to additional journals and websites.

Memberships (optional)

You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Please read the Guidance for Applicants before making your application.

Guidance for Audition

Completing your application

Further information on writing your personal statement can be found on the UCAS Conservatoires website.

Course in Depth

PG Dip

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules, totalling 120 credits: 

MA

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 180 credits): 

MFA

In order to complete this course a student must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 280 credits):

Course Structure

As a Master’s student you will be expected to take a proactive attitude toward study. You will have timetabled classes as well as time for self-directed study. This one-year programme is delivered through a combination of group lectures, practical sessions, workshops and seminars.

You will explore in-depth the theory and practice of working with the voice. During your studies you will consider innovations in practice, and initiate research. You will be taught philosophical, ethical and aesthetic principles related to voice practice. Conducting private and self-directed study will widen your knowledge of the field and help you acquire a Master’s level understanding of professional voice practice.

Some classes are essentially studio based; they will be practically-focused on the development of your vocal and textual skills. This will enable you to gain an understanding into healthy vocal use, the demands of spoken and sung texts, and the relationship between the singing and speaking voice.

Development of your teaching skills is established through micro-teaching, presentation seminars and tutorials. We encourage you to foster creativity and initiative, teaching you to respond to complex situations. You will create workshops and effective presentations and you will be expected to critically reflect your work in order to advance.

Part-Time Study

The MA Professional Voice Practice operates either as a one-year, full-time course or a two-year, part-time course.

For part-time students the course modules are distributed over two years of study. For part-time PgDip students, half of the modules are studied over three terms in a first year, and the other half over three terms in a second year.

For part-time MA students the second year of study includes four terms, the final term being dedicated to the production of the dissertation/research project.

You can negotiate your modules with the Course Director, however the Voice Theory and Phonetics and Practical Voice modules must be taken in the first year of the course. The Placement Module and the Research Project should represent the culmination of study and take place at the end of your second year.

Employability

Enhancing Employability Skills

You’ll be encouraged to think creatively, considering how to apply the knowledge taught to your specific interests or practice. This will allow you to develop a set of tools and transferable skills that will help you translate your knowledge to a variety of professional voice roles.

Throughout the programme you will develop your ability in planning and presenting presentations, performances, and workshops. You will be able to deliver professional voice content to a high artistic, intellectual and professional level. Graduates will be able to make sound judgements and demonstrate a systematic understanding of voice. You will be able to form expert insight and strategies of creative thinking.

The programme is structured to develop your teaching skills, through micro-teaching. You will develop a comprehensive understanding of the techniques applicable to professional voice practice. This will prepare you for a manner of roles within the voice field. Many of our students express an interest in forming their own professional voice companies, providing bespoke vocal services. We encourage you to explore a variety of pathways, ensuring you leave with specialised, yet extensive knowledge and skill.

The content of this course will allow you to progress into voice roles within private practice, teaching in a drama school context or even voice coaching in the industry. You’ll also have the skills needed for voice teaching in other contexts such as working in the community or teaching in a primary or secondary school.


Our Graduates

Lottie Williams-Burrell
Senior Voice Tutor at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts

Since graduating, Lottie has worked as a freelance voice teacher at Associated Studios, Birmingham School of Acting (now Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, where she became a Senior Voice Tutor in 2017. Lottie’s time on the course helped her considerably with building relationships and making important industry connections. In addition to her work at Mountview, Lottie gained experience working as a voice coach at a number of London-based shows, she also has experience teaching private clients.

Lottie was originally attracted to MA Professional Voice Practice by the singing module. Her highlights from the course include the accent and dialect module, the masterclasses where she was introduced to leading voice professionals, and the “fantastic group of teachers and students”.


Dayle Torwanicky Employability

Dayle Torwanicky
NYC-based Teaching Artist

Since graduating Dayle was immediately hired to teach at a full-time acting conservatory in New York City. She has managed to build up her teaching hours from 3 hours a week to 20+ hours in addition to coaching productions every term.

Following her training on MA Professional Voice Practice, she went to become a certified Feldenkrais Practitioner. She is now on her sixth year on faculty at Stella Adler Studio of Acting, where she teaches on three courses. In addition, teaching classes she also maintains private clients. Dayle has managed to keep in touch with his class members from Birmingham who are now situated at different parts of the world (New York City, Los Angeles and Barcelona) they collaborate regularly and help one another to learn and grow. Dayle’s future plans include broadening her knowledge in linguistics in order to continue work with international actors.


James Gitsham
Lecturer in Theatre at LASALLE College of the Arts

James was offered a full time voice tutor role prior to graduating. He later on went on to develop a private voice coaching business before successfully taking on the role as a Lecturer at the Theatre at LASALLE College of Arts in Singapore.

James said “The program introduced me to a much wider world of voice training than that which I’d previously been aware of. There were opportunities to develop the skills to apply voice work to a variety of areas including vocational actor training, professional accent coaching and to the world of commercial business training.”

The first thing that attracted James to master’s program at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire was the expertise and qualifications of the teaching staff. James continues “The breadth of material that was covered on the course struck me as unique within postgraduate voice programmes. From being trained through the vocal progression of Kristen Linklater, to instruction in levels one and two of Estill Voice Training, we covered a variety of voice practitioners. The program also has an excellent staff-student ratio which allows for a great deal of one to one training and personalised feedback.”

Placements

Placements are an important aspect of this course, as they allow you to experience a professional work environment. Placements are a compulsory part of the programme, in which you will work and gain further insights into the demands of the practicing voice professional.

In the past our students have undertaken placements in a wide range of contexts, such as regional theatre companies, drama schools, HE and FE colleges, primary and secondary schools, and community or industrial projects. Students have also worked with prestigious organisations such as the Royal Court Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

These placements provide you with real-life experience, and as a requirement you will be actively involved in delivering an aspect of the programmes provided by your selected placement organisation.

International

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Further information

This course is focused on professional voice practice within the United Kingdom, therefore is suitable for international applicants seeking to learn about a specific culture of practice. In the past we have welcomed students from the USA, who wanted to develop specialised knowledge.

International students are able to apply for a one year full-time MA Professional Voice Practice. Applicants are required to audition and interview for this programme. However overseas students are able to audition via DVD, following the guidelines provided by Birmingham School of Acting.

The delivery of the course includes intensive study of vocal interpretation relevant to British professional practice. This will include the study of British accents, and other specialised aspects, a prior knowledge and understanding of this is desired. You must hold prior knowledge and understanding of the English language, this includes the confidence in speaking the language. You must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English Language as a requirement for this course.

If you seek to develop a Master’s level of knowledge and skill in this particular area then Birmingham School of Acting is for you.

If you are based in the USA we normally hold auditions in late January to early February.

Facilities & Staff

Our Facilities

Location

From January 2022, the School of Acting has moved and is no longer based in Millennium Point. We have worked hard to ensure that our new location at Ruskin Hall in Bournville is a suitable home for our vibrant community of students and staff, whilst still ensuring students can benefit from a range of performance spaces around the city.

As a part of the Arts, Design and Media faculty, we also have access to facilities at the Parkside Building, which boasts state-of-the-art radio and television studios, edit suites, photography studios, and much more.

Performances

Students regularly perform at professional theatres across the West Midlands, including The Birmingham Central Library Theatre; Crescent Theatre; Hippodrome Studio (Patrick Centre); The Old Rep Theatre and The Drum.

Our staff

Alex Taylor

Course Director MFA in Acting the British Tradition, MA in Professional Voice Practice

Alex Taylor has worked extensively in the UK, USA and South East Asia as a director, an actor and as a voice specialist. From 1984-1990 he was the Director of the School of Theatre, Manchester Metropolitan University and, at thirty, was the youngest drama school principal in the UK. He created one of the first honours degree courses for...

More about Alex

Stephen Simms

Vice Principal - Acting, Professor of Actor Education

Stephen is the Vice Principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire - Acting, one of the UK's leading conservatoires of acting, where he is also the Head of Acting. He is also Professor of Actor Education, the only person to hold this position in the country. He directs and teaches on the acting courses at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Recent...

More about Stephen