Heidi Moss Erickson, B. Arts Biology, B.Mus, MSci

Heidi Moss Erickson received a dual biology and voice degree at Oberlin College, where she worked in the voice lab of Richard Miller. Her more than 20 year performing career spans both opera and concert repertoire, with a focus on new music. She received her graduate degree at the University of Pennsylvania in biochemistry, with an emphasis in neuroscience. Her postgraduate research on telomeres at Rockefeller University led to prestigious publications, including a landmark paper in Cell which demonstrated that the ends of DNA are looped. Heidi teaches vocal physiology at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, applied voice at UC Davis, and at the Summer Vocal Pedagogy Institute at St. Andrews. In 2007 she came down with a rare CNVII nerve injury which resurrected her passion for how the brain controls the voice. Through the curation of research in the neuroscience of vocalization, she has created a line of vocal pedagogy that applies to all genres. Her clients include singers from a wide variety of styles, including professional singers from the worlds of classical, musical theater, R and B, pop, Hindustani classical music, and Chinese Opera. Her courses and lectures have been featured both nationally and internationally at conferences and universities, and her mini YouTube series called “Singing in the Brain” has garnered enthusiastic reviews. She created the “Minding the Gap” column in the Journal of Singing to bridge neuroscience research with vocal pedagogy which ran from 2022-2023 and she is currently working on a book. www.heidimosserickson.com 

Financial Disclosure: Ms. Moss Erickson has no financial relationships to disclose. 

Non-Financial Disclosure:
 Ms. Moss Erickson has no non-financial relationships to disclose.

​  Presentation: Making play a part of practice: targeting "bottom up” via “top   down”

 Most lesson paradigms include a series of vocal exercises targeting specific mechanical elements followed by application to   selected repertoire. We customize strategies for each student to address their technical and expressive needs. At any given time,   we can work on posture, jaw, tongue, lips, registrations, breath, pitch, rhythm, resonance, diction, vowels, consonants, etc. In other   words, it is a very long list that a singer and teacher can choose to tackle in one session. Unfortunately, our brains are not deft   multitaskers. Singing requires the coordination of over 100 muscles in milliseconds, making it almost impossible to strategize each   element that impedes a singer’s progress at any given moment. A teacher strives 1) to find a simple, efficient system for a singer to   navigate their instrument 2) to help a singer find authentic expression 3) to make the process of singing a gratifying experience.   Interestingly, directed play — rooted in concepts from the neuroscience of vocalization— is where these ideas can become one.   The top-down/bottom-up loop is integrated seamlessly. In this lecture/demonstration, participants will: 1) Learn about the   neuroscience of vocalization. 2) Learn about the neuroscience of play. 3) Observe examples of common technical challenges   encountered in the voice studio and witness a ‘play’ strategy that directly solves the technical problem in a way that is both   enjoyable and reproducible. Integrating these ideas can help all teachers make singers better, faster (with joy).