Eastern Oregon University > Faculty > Contemporary music in the classroom

Contemporary music in the classroom

Jamie Jacobson

Jamie Jacobson, EOU vocal instructor, is using a new certification to help make all singing styles more accessible.

Bringing contemporary music to the classroom

News contact: Laura Hancock | University Advancement
541-962-3585 or lhancock@eou.edu

September 15, 2015

LA GRANDE, Ore. (EOU) – Anyone can learn to sing if they have the right training and Jamie Jacobson, vocal instructor at Eastern Oregon University, has new tools that will help.

Jacobson recently became certified in Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method and is excited to integrate contemporary commercial music styles in her EOU courses starting this fall. She completed the cutting-edge program for teachers at the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Va., over the summer.

“Contemporary commercial music encompasses jazz, pop, rock, gospel, musical theater…any style that doesn’t fit into the box of classical or opera,” Jacobson explained.

Somatic refers to the anatomy and science of singing, and the specific method developed by Jeannette LoVetri focuses on connecting the body to the voice. For a technical teacher like Jacobson, it means a new way of looking at scientific-based functional training.

“Truly anyone can sing,” she said. “Our bodies know how to make sound, but our minds create things that get in the way. Functional training takes away the mysticism of singing and creates a body awareness that didn’t exist before. Singers are athletes, too, and need proper preparation to perform well and avoid injury.”

Eager to put what she learned into practice, Jacobson has already used these methods with a few of her current pupils and saw results fast. She helped one student find her “belt” – a specific sound associated with musical theater – and another resolve a pitch-matching issue in just a few minutes.

“It’s pretty amazing!” Jacobson said. “It doesn’t change what I teach, but it does change the way students look at singing. Everything clicks together to provide the maximum benefit, improving their vocal confidence to explore options they didn’t know existed.”

EOU’s established classical music training program will remain, but by blending instruction in contemporary commercial music styles, classes won’t be limited, and Jacobson believes this will open the door to more people considering a bachelor of music degree.

“It offers validity and I hope it will bring singers out of the woodwork. It’s about inclusion and I want to create a no risk, safe place for students to fail or fly as they explore on their way to success,” she said, pointing to a small block sign with the words FAILURE IS THE BEST WAY TO LEARN engraved on the front.

The phrase is positioned with purpose to be the first thing students see when they step inside her office in Loso Hall.

Jacobson holds up a plaque featuring her favorite motto displayed in her office in Loso Hall. It reads "failure is the best way to learn."

Jacobson holds up a plaque featuring her favorite motto in her office in Loso Hall.

Singers and non-singers alike have the chance to learn more about somatic voicework and contemporary commercial music during a free workshop with Jacobson later this month.

The workshop is Saturday, Sept. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of 6th St. and Penn Ave. in La Grande.

Jacobson will offer tips for singing in a choir without knowing how to read music, reaching those high notes, vocal technique for blending in a choir, projection training for solos and more.

Workshop participants should bring a sack lunch and call 541-963-5114 for details.

Registrations for the Music 192 course at EOU are still being accepted and no prior experience is necessary to participate in this voice class with Jacobson. 

To learn more about this course, EOU’s bachelor of music and other programs, call Peter Wordelman at 541-962-3352 or e-mail pwordelm@eou.edu.