The Estill Potential
By Ron Long
Have you ever been to Edmonton? Although it’s the capital of Alberta, Canada, with a population of approximately a million people, you might not have heard of it. Sometimes it takes a while for courses like Estill Voice Training to get here, but it arrived 5 years ago.
I met Judith Dunlore, one of our wonderful Estill Mentor and Course Instructors at a course she was giving in California and invited her to bring Estill Voice Training to our city. Since then, there has been steady interest in EVT here in Edmonton. Now that I am an Estill Master Teacher, I regularly do Intro and Belting Workshops and even workshops for the local teachers’ convention. As one of only two EMTs in western Canada, I’m happy that I get to be an ambassador for EVT.
North American Teachers of Singing
Recently, I gave an Intro Workshop through our local NATS Chapter and it was one of the most attended events in their history! It was mainly attended by non-NATS member teachers, which was exciting for the chapter but also – I believe – for Estill Voice Training.
I started off the workshop by asking what each participant wanted to know about the voice and why they were attending. Many of the attendees were interested in teaching more contemporary styles of singing and how they could begin to teach those techniques. For myself, this is what brought me to EVT as well and this is what I am most grateful for from my Estill Voice Training: it has given me the tools to expand my knowledge of my instrument.
I grew up studying what Estill Voice Training would call a fairly standard opera recipe of singing but that training left me with many questions. When I came to EVT, I was exploring my tenor range but was not being completely successful at it. Sometimes I could sing a B flat…but not always. High C was just out of the question!
Thankfully, Estill gave me a map. Through all the combinations, I could start to explore all the amazing sounds my voice could make. I started questioning everything I was ever taught about the voice and my own understanding of how it all worked. Suddenly, I could read an article or watch a YouTube video and translate it into the Estill anatomical model. I could read a book on singing technique or take lessons and continue learning from that lesson for weeks afterward. Estill Voice Training has given me the ability to understand what is being taught and why.
This brings me to what has been most wonderful about my Estill training. It has allowed me to share with my students and workshop participants a knowledge that has been sorely lacking here in northern Canada. I know there is a need due to the number of teachers who want to learn about belting and alternative ways to singing beyond classical methods.
It’s not the teachers who are driving this progression, however. It is the singers themselves. More and more singers are looking for lessons on how to belt. “What is a mix belt? How can I sound like the singers I hear on the radio or that Broadway soundtrack?” Because of the internet and social media, the world is a smaller place. Edmonton is no longer so disconnected from larger centres like London and New York. Young singers know that there are answers out there for their burning questions on singing so it is wonderful to be able to tap into these Estill resources for my local community.
Seeing the Estill Potential in these students eyes as they learn and grow has been very satisfying for me as an educator. As is helping people to question what they have learned so that they can better understand their voice anatomy and what it can do. By the end of the workshops, participants have left with a better understanding and hopefully a taste for more.
About the Author
Ron Long, MM, is an Edmonton-based voice teacher, performer, and the first Estill Master Trainer in Alberta. He is a member of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association and has performed with Edmonton Opera. He presents workshops and adjudicates music festivals in western Canada. He teaches from his home and at MacEwan’s Conservatory of Music.