Student Success with Estill Voice Training

Luke Steinhauer, Estill Voice International  

Valerie Nutter, music class teacher & Estill Voice Master Trainer Valerie Nutter is an Estill Master Trainer and public school educator who uses Estill Voice Training in her general music classes, choir, and drama club. Recently, Valerie presented at the 10th Estill World Voice Symposium, “Out of the Mouths of Babies: EVT Success with Middle School Students,” a workshop that included strategies for student engagement, pedagogy appropriate for the age group, and video examples of student progress.

We asked Valerie to expand upon her success using Estill in her classroom and share some of the prompts and improvisatory exercises that work with adolescents to bring Estill to life.

“Every class on my roster experiences Estill Voice Training. Too many of my students have said, ‘I can’t sing. I was told that I don’t have a good voice. My voice is ugly. I can’t stand the sound of my voice. I’m too loud. I’m too soft. I’m too breathy.’ When they realize that there are tools in EVT to help them control their voice, their faces light up.”

When students arrive in the classroom, there is a Figure exercise from the previous class. They choose which option to speak or sing when their name is called. When they leave, they must say, ‘Have a nice day!’  using a high, mid or low Larynx position. 

When Nutter demonstrates the hand signal for False Vocal Fold retract, students know to be quiet and listen for instruction. Nutter often says “Please sustain this (False Vocal Fold retract) while I am making this announcement. Wait…what’s your effort number?”

Nutter advocates for silent practice guided by Estill hand signals. This act of motor learning promotes focused deliberate practice and reinforces the knowledge they’ve learned with simple yet fun hand gestures. 

When it comes time for performances or concerts, False Vocal Fold Retraction, Head & Neck and Torso Anchor help students calm their nerves.

“By focusing on these physical feelings students don’t have to think about anything else.”

One unexpected bonus, students realized that a tilted Thyroid condition has the power to deescalate a situation when they are communicating with a student that has made a choice they regret. 

Nutter shared with us quotes from her students that demonstrate the outstanding impact she has by using Estill Voice Training in her classroom: 

“Estill helped me get my voice to a point I thought I couldn’t reach.” 

“I was bored in math class so I played with my velum. Hingee, hingee, hingee. Don’t worry. I did it silently.” 

“What do you mean I can be loud in here. Is this a trap? It’s a cri what?” 

Nutter uses “The Estill Adventure: Figures for Beginners Teaching Package” that includes a physical copy of “The Estill Adventure: Figures for Beginners,” a bright and lively PowerPoint companion that coincides with the book, and three complementary  lesson plans. You can learn more about Valerie Nutter on her Estill Voice Trainer Profile here