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    'Phonemes First' - a vocal workshop with James Toland

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    Event description

    This singing workshop, led by James Toland, underscores the need for meticulous articulation of phonemes—the essential building blocks of language. This method involves an in-depth analysis of how the movement and positioning of the articulators, and proper application of breath support impact sound quality. By focusing on the physical mechanics of sound production—how articulators and breath work together to generate sound—Toland’s approach strips singing down to its most fundamental aspects. This, in turn, leads to enhanced technical prowess, expressiveness, and vocal health. In Toland’s own words, “the precision of good diction enables beautiful and healthy singing.”

    Diction • Vocal onset and release • Quiet, relaxed breathing • Warm-up exercises focusing on accurate phonemic production • Facilitating consonants and vowels • Steps for learning and practicing music

    JTVA Founder and General Director James Toland has been a private voice teacher for the past thirty years. His students have performed in major opera houses and on concert stages throughout the world. He has served in recent years as a master teacher for the prestigious San Francisco Girls Chorus, and has taught for the Piedmont Children’s Chorus and Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco. Mr. Toland was the director of the Pacific Masterworks Chorus (now renamed Chorus Eclectic) from 2014-2020. For several years he has been an adjunct professor teaching voice and opera at the Collinsworth School of Music at California Baptist University. Mr. Toland has been a clinician for multiple choral groups such as the Peninsula Women’s Chorus, Cantare Con Vivo, the Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco, the choirs of Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as the University of Tennessee. He led the chorus of Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, California, for seven years. In addition, he has served as the vocal coach for the musical theater productions of the Diablo Theatre Company. He has been a frequent adjudicator for numerous voice competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. In the early 2000s, he served on the board of directors of Festival Opera, as well as Livermore Opera. Prior to his work in the Bay Area, he spent more than a decade as the artistic director of the Eugene Opera, where his stage direction was featured in an NPR segment of “All Things Considered.” Prior to that, he was the company manager of Texas Opera Theater, the touring arm of Houston Grand Opera.

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