Estill Voice Training (voice craft) by Viv Manning

Estill Voice Training (voice craft) is a systematic approach to voice training that seeks to improve the efficiency of the professional singing and spoken voice. It provides participants with tools to explore the beauty of voice through the production and practice of 13 Compulsory Figures (Level 1) and 6 Voice Qualities (Level 2).


Estill Voice Training is based on the work developed between the years 1970 and 2000 by the researcher and teacher Jo Estill.


Specialists in a variety of fields of voicework use the principles of Estill as a foundation for their training.Teachers of the spoken voice and voice therapists use the figures, and their application in speech, to educate and reeducate the voice.


Singers and teachers of all music genres have found Estill to be an unparalleled tool for training the singing voice.


Estill aims to train the voice by taking into account it’s dynamic and complex nature of shifting muscular activity between the respiratory and phonatory systems. It enables us to identify subtle activity in the body, isolate the movement of the structures in the vocal mechanism, the head, the neck and torso, and to understand how these changes affect the sound and ease of production in the speaking and singing voice.


Estill Voice Training enables performers to strengthen and increase the versatility of their voice and confront any vocal task in an optimal, safe and healthy manner.

“Magic encompasses the indescribable experience of becoming one with your audience. Magical performances are breath-taking, goose-bump-raising, transformational experiences for both vocalist and audience. But these magic moments can be rare, unpredictable, and fleeting. Having a strong foundation of Craft and Artistry improves your chances of experiencing performance magic, finding that “zone” more frequently.”


LEVEL 1: The essence of the Estill system is in the practice of the Compulsory Figures, vocal exercises that are based on scientific research into the workings of the voice. The repetition of the Figures develops a fine kinesthetic perception of voice and body mechanisms, at the same time as training vocal resilience and flexibility. Understanding the physiological mechanisms of the voice and a finer kinesthetic perception along with auditory sense allows the user to avoid vocal strain, use their voice with greater confidence and experiment safely with a wide variety of nuances and colors.
LEVEL 2: Level 2 consists in further practice of the Compulsory Figures and the introduction of the 6 Voice Qualities.The control acquired through the practice of the Figures is applied here to identify 6 Voice Qualities that are practiced throughout the vocal range and applied in a more expressive context. The conscious practice of the Figures and the Qualities trains the dynamic coordination of the voice for greater artistry.



Jo Estill suggests that voice training can be considered as a fusion of three disciplines: Craft; Artistry; Performance Magic.


Craft: mechanical training, the coordination of components that produce the voice.


“Craft is learning how to control the various structural components of the voice. Each structure contributes to sound and feeling of the voice. Control of these structures leads to unlimited options for changing – or maintaining – voice quality, without vocal strain. Craft is the foundation.”



Artistry: the study of all aesthetics-related aspects for the spoken and singing voice, and the performance of a work with optimal expressiveness and agility.


“Artistry requires knowledge and demonstration of the stylistic elements of a performance practice. Artistry gives you the know-how to make your performance vision a reality. Commonly this principle applies to dramatic and musical endeavors, but there is also “artistry” in effective communication in a lecture, sales presentation, or customer service call."


Performance Magic: the most mysterious aspect, it happens when a concentration of energy is produced that is perceived as special and unique. Both the artist and the audience can feel it.