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Review: The Vocal Athlete

The Vocal Athlete book cover
This meal of a book will keep you satisfied for a long time.

Item: The Vocal Athlete, by Wendy D. Leborgne and Marci Rosenberg, published by Plural Publishing.

Price: Amazon (US): 55.00 USD | Amazon (UK): from 32.00 GBP (Spiral-bound)

Mic Rating: 5/5


At a glance: This book is a heavily referenced text that aims to bring together research insights from voice science with the burgeoning field of contemporary commercial singing. The authors are both voice pathologists and teachers, as well as active performers. This book chugs it’s way though physiology, neurology, breathing, acoustics, voice disorders, surgery, aging, medicine and care. But it doesn’t end there. The book also peer reviews classical and contemporary voice pedagogy and even delves into mindful practice and audio technology. Also available is The Vocal Athlete Work Book, which is crammed full of practical exercises.

High notes: The constant stream of diagrams are simple and clean, and often span a whole double page. A reference table of all the possible allergens has proved useful, as has the table listing side effects of commonly self-prescribed herbal remedies. I’m always a fan of de-bunking myths, and there are plenty to find in here.

Off pitch: The layout is a bit odd – like newspaper columns – which takes a while to get used to, and the diagrams are often some pages before or after the sentence which points to them. The final chapters did feel a bit like after thoughts, but many voice books are starting to follow the format of all-in-one.

A VoiceCouncil reviewer says: If you are serious about developing a deep understanding of your instrument, this is it. I often recommend this book to student singers, although the anatomy chapters will be bewildering to those unversed in such subjects. The book is careful to note that individual style is paramount in non-classical styles, however they still adhere to some aesthetic bias (nasality, larynx height). There’s no stone unturned in The Vocal Athlete. In fact, the information is so thoroughly presented it probably deserves a second or third read. This text emphasizes the importance of body work and mindful practice in addition to ‘correct’ technique, which is a large step in the right direction. You need strength and hunger in equal measure to get through this book, but you will feel more accomplished as a result.

  • Dr Daniel K. Robinson

    Thanks for highlighting this awesome text. I’ve also read this book (cover to cover) and it is most certainly highly recommended to student singers, and a ‘must have text’ for any CCM pedagogue serious about their singing teaching. Personally, I didn’t find the layout ‘odd.’ This aspect is very much in keeping with the publishers (Plural) formatting which I quite like. Again, thanks for the review!

  • Freya Astrella

    Hey Dan, thanks for your input. If you have any book recommendations for me to review, let me know!

  • Dr Daniel K. Robinson

    Will do!