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Archive for the 'Voice' Category

Voice trainer, Emil Behnke, “as accurate as Huxley and as fascinating as Faraday”

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 17 February 2017

BehnkeEmil Behnke (1836-1892) was born in Stettin, the son of a merchant, but became a naturalized British subject.  From around 1860 he began to study the voice, and “the physiological aspects of singing and speaking” (People, Places, and Things).  He sang baritone with an opera company, before moving to England in 1865 (Musical Herald, 1892).  He was one of the foremost voice trainers of the mid to late 19th century, in fact his obituary in The Times practically attributes the foundation of a new discipline to him:

At the age of 30 he began to lecture on “the Mechanism of the voice” under the auspices of such physiological experts as Professors Sharpey, Burdon Sanderson, M’Kendrick, and Struthers, and speedily had engagements at the foremost musical and scientific societies of the country.  So ingenious were his illustrative models and so successful was he in the application of scientific principles to the practical work of the teaching of singing, and more particularly to the restoration of voices impaired by false training, that he may be said to have established an entirely new profession, and he was universally accepted as a leading authority on all matters relating to the voice.  He was consulted by many eminent teachers of singing and worked in co-operation with leading medical specialists.

Behnke was co-author with Lennox Browne of The Child’s Voice  (1885), and Voice Song and Speech (1883).  Lennox Browne was a founder of the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital, our present home, and a leading ENT surgeon.  Interestingly, The Child’s Voice, was dedicated to Sir John Stainer the musician and composer, who was of course the brother of our old friend, the Rev. William Stainer, teacher of the Deaf.  I wonder if there were connections between William Stainer and Lennox Browne or Behnke.

According to Rachel Holmes, in her biography of Eleanor Marx, Eleanor Marx: a life (2014, p.158), she says that along with John Hullah, Behnke taught the theatrical couple Hermann and Jane Elizabeth Vezin.  As a teacher and lecturer he was, according to People, Places, and Things, “as accurate as Huxley and as fascinating as Faraday.”  He had a deep knowledge of vocal physiology and anatomy, and the same article says that he was invited to lecture at UCL by Burdon Sanderson and Sharpey, and that “Professor Foster put his theatre at Behnke’s disposal.”

Behnke held ‘concerts’ or as he preferred to say, ‘open rehearsals’ using the tonic sol-fa method of singing’ that was invented in Norwich by Sarah Glover and pioneered by John Curwen, who had been a student at UCL, and whose son, music publisher John Spencer Curwen, wrote Behnke’s obituary.  The Curwen’s knew Behnke from tonic sol-fa conventions.

One former school pupil of Behnke’s said, “he saved me from being an utter cad” (The Musical Herald, Nov 1, 1892).

There is a charming reminiscence of him in The Musical Herald (1898) by ‘E.D.’:

I was a little girl at a boarding-house in Weymouth when I became the pupil of Herr Behnke.  He was not then the noted voice specialist that he afterwards became, but a dark-haired young man fresh from Germany, who had been engaged to give drawing, French, and piano lessons at Miss S—–‘s school.  Although he had been in England, I believe, only a few weeks, his English was well-nigh perfect.

“Never mind the notes,” he would say, when I was over-anxious lest my fingers should drop on the wrong keys; “Never mind the notes, keep time!

John S. Curwen, who clearly held him in very high regard, said, “He stood halfway between the doctor and the singing master” (p.293).  He died in Ostend on a holiday, when he was trying to recuperate from the illness that dogged his last years.  His friend Lennox Browne even crossed over to see if there was anything he could do to help, but Behnke died on the 17th of September, 1892, at the age of only 56 (Curwen, p.291).

His wife and his daughter Kate Emil-Behnke continued his teaching legacy, and both wrote books and updated his books.  There is much more interesting to say about the three of them, beyond the scope of this item.

The Mechanism of the Human VoiceCurwen, J Spencer. The Musical Herald; London 535, (Oct 1, 1892): 291-294

THE LATE EMIL BEHNKE.The Musical Herald; London 536 (Nov 1, 1892): 351-351.

Some Reminiscences of Emil Behnke. E D. The Musical Herald; London 598(Jan 1, 1898): 22-22.

People, Places, and Things. Hearth and Home (London, England), Thursday, October 13, 1892; pg. 716; Issue 74

The Times 19th of September 1892, p. 9

1871 Census (Curwen family) – Class: RG10; Piece: 1629; Folio: 11; Page: 13; GSU roll: 829938

[Picture from the obituary in The Musical Herald.]

Music and Deaf People

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 November 2012

There is, perhaps surprisingly, a large amount of literature on Deaf people and music. In response to a Guardian article which mentioned deaf children feeling the vibrations of instruments here is some suggested reading:

Books / Reports:
Beament J
How we hear music: the relationship between music and the hearing mechanism.Woodbridge, Boydell Press; 2001.
Written for music students but covers the physical basics of hearing music.

Glennie E
Good vibrations: my autobiography. 1990, Hutchinson.
RNID Biography

Marcus H
Music for all: an investigation into the value of music for deaf people. Unpublished MA thesis, 2001, University of Sheffield.
RNID C7234 (reference only)

Rigney M
Deaf side story: deaf sharks, hearing jets, and a classical American musical.Washington DC; Gallaudet University Press 2003.
The story of a collaborative staging of West Side Story by two American Colleges, one of which was Illinois School for the Deaf.

Chapters & Articles:
Abdi, S et al
Introducing music as a means of habilitation for children with cochlear implants. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PEDIATRIC OTORHINOLARYNGOLOGY, 2001, 59(2), 105-113.

Almost famous. DEAF ARTS UK, 2003, 21, 19.
Interview with student flautist Ruth Montgomery.

Annear P
The seashell gamelan. HEARING CONCERN, 2000, 8 (2), 12-13.
Music work at the Royal School for the Deaf (Manchester)

Ash A
Sign song with Caroline Parker. DEAF ARTS UK, 1999, 8, 17.
Brief report of sign song workshop led by sign song artist Caroline Parker.
Available online at:  www.deafed.net/PublishedDocs/970723b.htm  [last accessed on 20/11/12].

Barron P
They said Janine wouldn’t make it as a singer – now she’s a star! HEARING CONCERN, 2003, 11 (2), 18-19.
Features opera singer Janine Roebuck.

Benari N
Inner rhythm: dance and music for hearing impaired children. MAGAZINE (BRITISH ASSOCIATION OF TEACHERS OF THE DEAF), 1996, Nov, 17-19.

Boone M
Music especially adapted for hard of hearing people. IFHOH JOURNAL, 1990, 11 (3), 17 18.
(Reprinted from SHHH, 1987, Nov Dec.)

Carr G
The development of listening skills, in ‘Audiology in education’, McCracken W, Laoide-Kemp S (eds).London, Whurr; 1997. pp.385-411
Half of the chapter is subtitled ‘Music and musical experience’.

Chasin M
Hear the music … or not. HEARING JOURNAL, 2004, 57 (7), 10-16.
20 tips from the author on listening to music through hearing aids.

Chasin M
Hearing aids and music. TRENDS IN AMPLIFICATION, 2004, 8 (2), 35-47.

Chasin M
Music and hearing aids. HEARING JOURNAL, 2003, 56 (7), 38, 38, 40-42.
Study of the technical requirements of a hearing aid suitable for hard-of-hearing musicians and listeners.

Cheng W
A musical season. SHHH, 1990, 11 (6), 20 23.
Profile of deaf violinist Wendy Cheng.

Clewes N
A musical journey. NETWORK, 2003, 69, 13-14.
Personal account by cochlear implant recipient deafened at 16.

Clewes N
Music workshop held at the AGM. NETWORK, 2003, 70, 7-8.
Workshop for deafened adults led by members of the London Symphony Orchestra.

BATOD MAGAZINE, November 2004.
A special issue of the BATOD Magazine which includes a number of short articles on music in deaf education. A list of contents and short abstracts can be found at:

Dalgarno G
Enabling hard of hearing people to hear music and enjoyably. HEARING CONCERN, 1996, 1 (1), 12-13.

Enabling for Music Project, based at the Department of Electronics, University of York, carries out research and provides practical advice on using technology to help hard of hearing, deaf, deafened, physically disabled and partially sighted people enjoy music.

Dalgarno G
Music appreciation and deafness. NEWSLETTER (NATIONAL COCHLEAR IMPLANT USERS ASSOCIATION), 2004, 21, 7-9.

Dalgarno G
How new technology can help you enjoy music. HEARING CONCERN, 1999,7 (2), 14-16.

Dalgarno G
Music for deaf and partially hearing people with an emphasis on the application of technology to aid perception. Part 3. The scope through electronic equipment and computers. ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE, BATOD, 1989, Mar, 10 16.

Dalgarno G
Music for deaf and partially hearing people with an emphasis on the application of technology to aid perception. Part 4. Visual and tactile representation of music. ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE, BATOD, 1989, May, 8 11.

Deaf cellist wins international award. BRITISH DEAF NEWS, 2002, Aug, 7
Features profoundly Deaf  Catriona Hetherington.

Dryden R
Music comes to Margate. TALK, 1995, 158, 8.
Music programme at the Royal School for Deaf  Children, Margate.

Egan D
Keeping a song in her heart. SEE HEAR, 1996, Jun, 8-9.
Interview with music teacher Valerie Hoppe, deafened in mid-career, and founder of Life after Deafness (LAD), a support group for deaf and hard of hearing people working in the arts.

Edwards J
The Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children in association with the Elizabeth Foundation: Claus Bang master class, 10th-12th March 1995. ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE (BATOD), 1995, Sep, 4.

Fawkes, W. G., & Ratnanather, J. T.
Music at the Mary Hare Grammar school for the deaf from 1975 to 1988. Visions of Research in Music Education, 14 2009.

Folts M
Deaf Children Cannot Play a Musical Instrument…Can They? 1977, VOLTA REVIEW, 79 (7), 453-456.

Franklin J
We got rhythm! TALKING SENSE, 2001, 47 (1), 26-27.
Using Aurhythmics to give access to sound and music for deafblind children at Sense’s Family Centre in Ealing.

Gfeller K et al
Recognition of “real-world” musical excerpts by cochlear implant recipients and normal-hearing adults. EAR AND HEARING, 2005, 26(3), 237-250.

Gfeller K, Knutson J E
Music to the impaired or implanted ear. ASHA LEADER, 2003, 8(8), 1, 12-15.
Hart P
Music: a vehicle for communication. DEAF BLIND EDUCATION, 1989, 4, 19 20.

Gfeller K et al
Musical backgrounds, listening habits, and aesthetic enjoyment of adult cochlear implant recipients. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF AUDIOLOGY, 2000, 11(7), 383-406.

Gfeller K et al
Musical involvement and enjoyment of children who use cochlear implants.VOLTAREVIEW, 2000, 100(4), 213-233.

Gfeller K et al
Preliminary report of a computerized music training program for adult cochlear implant recipients. JOURNAL OF THE ACADEMY OF REHABILITATIVE AUDIOLOGY, 1999, 32, 11-27.

Hay J
Face to face: Colin Thompson. BRITISH DEAF NEWS, 1989, 20(3), 7 8.
Interview with Colin Thompson, RNID Regional Officer (East), about his performances of signed pop songs, family background, and views on deaf education.

Hummel C
The Value of Music in Teaching Deaf Students. 1971,VOLTAREVIEW, 73(4), 224-228, 243-249.

Hawley R
Learning in harmony. TALKING SENSE, 2002, 47 (2), 24-25

Hickish E
A programme for aurhythmics in Cornwall. TALK, 1993, 148, 8-9.

Ivankovic P, Ghilpatrick I
Let’s start the music. PERSPECTIVES IN EDUCATION AND DEAFNESS, 1994, 12 (5), 12-14.
Music activities for preschool children.

Kirk T
How to make a musical chair. TALKING SENSE, 1989, 35(4), 4 5.
‘Listening’ to music through a vibrating chair

Liemohn W, Hargis C, Winter T, Wrisberg C
Rhythm production/perception by deaf students. VOLTA REVIEW, 1990, 92 (1), 13-24.

Liston S L, Yanz J L, Preves D, Jelonek S
Beethoven’s deafness. LARYNGOSCOPE, 1989, 99 (12), 1301 1304.

Leal M
Music perception in adult cochlear implant recipients. ACTA OTO-LARYNGOLOGICA, 2003, 123 (7), 826-835.

Looi V, Sucher C, McDermott H
Melodies familiar to the Australian population across a range of hearing abilities. AUSTRALIAN & NEW ZEALAND JOURNAL OF AUDIOLOGY, 2003, 25 (2), 75-83.

Music for hearing-impaired children in Deaf ability   not disability: a guide for parents of hearing impaired children:  1991

Moore E
BATOD response to the interim reports for music and physical education produced by the National Curriculum Working Groups for these subjects. ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE, BATOD, 1991, Sept, 2 3.

Mitani C et al
Music recognition, music listening, and word recognition by deaf children with cochlear implants. 2007, EAR AND HEARING, 28  (2 Supplement), 29S-33S.

Myers M
When music becomes magic. VOLTA VOICES, 2006, 13 (1), 22-23.
Reports on the successes of a US schoolgirl with a cochlear implant.

Parker C
Sign singing. SIGN MATTERS, 2004, Nov, 16-17.
Reports on a workshop held at the British Deaf Association following on from the popularity of the ‘Deaf Idol’ contest.

Perry N
Workshop 5: Music making for deaf children. In MITCHELL H, IZATT E. Empower ’97: international conference on deaf education. pp. 76-77.
RNID C6967 (REF), C6968

Rocca C
A positive musical experience. 2006, BATOD MAGAZINE, November, 13-15.
Comment upon teaching music at the Mary Hare School for the Deaf.

Signing opera. DEAF ARTS UK, 1998, 7, 8.
English National Opera project with deaf pupils in Exeter.

Shaw J
Teaching music as an aid for speech training of hearing impaired students. ACEHI JOURNAL, 1989, 15 (3), 114 120.

Signing choir heralds Year of Disabled. TALK, 2003, 193, 44.
News item about the signing choir at the Royal School for the Deaf, Derby.

Singers have it in hand. ONE IN SEVEN, 1999, 9, 9.
News item about Music in Motion, a Birmingham-based group of deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people who sign-interpret pop songs.

Stabej, K.K. et al.
The music perception abilities of prelingually deaf children with cochlear implants (Review) International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology Volume 76, Issue 10, October 2012, Pages 1392-1400

Stewart D A et al
Sign language interpreting: exploring its art and science. 1998. pp. 120-121 deal with interpreting songs.

Suzor’e: the IV International festival of Signed Songs. BRITISH DEAF NEWS, 2003, Apr, 16-17.

Shearer P D
The deafness of Beethoven: an audiologic and medical overview. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF OTOLOGY, 1990, 11 (5), 370 374.

Spears D
Hearing without listening. SOUNDBARRIER, 1990, 40, 11 12.
Interview with deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie.

Spanbauer P
Movement arts: unlocking the world. PERSPECTIVES IN EDUCATION AND DEAFNESS, 1990, 8 (3), 12 15.

Swaiko N
The role and value of an eurythmics program in a curriculum for deaf children. AMERICAN ANNALS OF THE DEAF, 1974, 321-324.

Vistamusic in sight and in touch. TALK, 1990, 135, 18 19
Vistamusic is a visual/tactile method of making music using a computer, developed by Gordon Dalgarno.

Wolf F
Dance of life. TALKING SENSE, 2002, 47 (2), 18-21.
Article on creative arts for deafblind people, which features 9-year-old percussionist Thomas Knight.

Web Resources:
www.matd.org.uk  – Music and the deaf; a charity that runs music and performing arts workshops in schools for deaf and hard of hearing children.

http://www.musicinmotioncharity.co.uk/ – An English charity group that performs popular songs in BSL.

www.zen59695.zen.co.uk/etsam/efm.htm  – Enabling for Music; a charity dedicated to using technology to help people with hearing difficulties listen to music.

Recent voice articles

By H Dominic W Stiles, on 1 May 2012

As well as being a library for Audiology & Deafness, we also cover ENT and part of that includes voice disorders. The voice is a delicate instrument and can be easily damaged. Many people use their voices in work for long periods – singers, trainers and teachers are particularly at risk of damaging the voice. This is an article on caring for your voice from the Daily Mail, with contributions from John Rubin and Ruth Epstein, two top voice experts who are based in the RNTNE Hospital. The opera singer Lesley Garrett was recently treated here as you can read in this Daily Express story.

Below are five recent voice articles from PubMed. The only journal here we do not hold is Parkinsonism and Related Disorders:

Voice disorders in children and its relationship with auditory, acoustic and vocal behavior parameters.

Simões-Zenari M, Nemr K, Behlau M.

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2012 Mar 23. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22444740


Evaluation of Dysphonic Patients by General Otolaryngologists.

Cohen SM, Pitman MJ, Noordzij JP, Courey M.

J Voice. 2012 Jan 26. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22285452


Singing in groups for Parkinson’s disease (SING-PD): A pilot study of group singing therapy for PD-related voice/speech disorders.

Shih LC, Piel J, Warren A, Kraics L, Silver A, Vanderhorst V, Simon DK, Tarsy D.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2012 Mar 19. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22436653


The Teaching Performer: A Survey of Assets Versus Choices in Voice Use.

Barnes-Burroughs K, Rodriguez MC.

J Voice. 2012 Feb 17. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22342359


The Traditional/Acoustic Music Project: A Study of Vocal Demands and Vocal Health.

Erickson ML.

J Voice. 2011 Dec 29. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 22209060



It’s not just ears, but throats too

By Alex P Stagg, on 6 October 2011

From Adele, currently stuggling with voice problems (BBC story here), to the significantly less-well renumerated librarian occasionally dragged in front of rapt audiences to explain the arcane magic of finding information, using one’s voice safely and healthily is an important, but much overlooked part of everyday life.

In addition to hearing research, the UCL Ear Institute and the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital undertake significant teaching, clinical and research work into voice disorders and vocal care, as part of UCL’s major interest in the fields of speech, voice and language.

Click here for  tips and information about looking after your voice from The British Voice Association.

Click here for simple advice on protecting both voice and hearing from the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine

Click here to learn more about a whole range of voice disorders and their treatment on Medline Plus

Click here for an article from Patient Plus in the UK explaining hoarseness and voice problems.