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Teaching Pop/Rock Styles

Taught by Melissa Foster

Class Dates: July 7, July 14, July 21
Class Times: Thursday 11am-1pm EST
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Find your authentic way into singing Pop/Rock Styles through technical tools and appreciation for cultural roots.  


The birth of Pop/Rock music is deeply rooted in historical events and cultural issues. Whether you are recording in a studio, gigging, or auditioning for Pop/Rock musicals, understanding the implications of these cultural moments is imperative to bringing your work to life. Combine this with an understanding of how changes at the vocal fold level and in the vocal tract affect voice production, and you will be able to produce authentic performances time and again without vocal strain. By the end of this course, participants will know how to research the historical and cultural elements of their favorite songs, how to teach and execute common stylistic traits, and how to bring genres including Doo-Wop, Rock, Motown, Pop/Rock, R&B, and Hip-Hop/Rap styles to life. 

In this course, you will learn: 

  • Historical, cultural, and stylistic elements of genres that exist in Pop/Rock musicals 

  • How to find your own unique way into the style with authenticity and appreciation for the art form

  • How to analyze various forms of popular music and identify specific stylistic elements necessary to approach these forms in musical theatre 

  • The vocal elements necessary for singing different genres such as Doo-Wop, Motown, Pop/Rock, Disco-pop, R&B, and Rap

  • Diction, flow, onset, and offset techniques necessary to create stylistic sounds

  • Exercises for teaching vocal effects (i.e. creak, riff, breathiness, slide, cry, slurs) while maintaining healthy vocal function

  • How rhythm and groove affects your art form

  • Vocal registration in Black music styles and how to use each register authentically

  • Phrasing and lyrical development, how different genres make different choices

  • How to utilize past and present singers’ strategies to create your own unique sound


The community of CCM institute is unlike any other group I have attended. It was just what I needed to give me the lift and energy I'm looking for in my teaching for the upcoming fall. I just wish I could've taken all the classes. Will definitely be coming back in the future!!

~ Korianne Orton-Johnson - Brigham Young University

I cannot say enough about how the teachers at the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute share their expertise so generously. As a classically trained vocal pedagogue I strongly recommend the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute for any teacher who is or will be teaching contemporary voice. The Institute provides a sound, extensive, and well-structured program with a fine selection of topics. I came to the Institute to develop a more structured approach to my own singing, teaching, and University level curriculum development, and I am thrilled with what I have learned. I now have a strong foundation from which to build upon and new perspectives that will guide my teaching forward into the 21st century.

~ Dr. Irene Feher - Concordia University Dept of Music - Montreal QC Canada

Melissa Foster is an educator, voice specialist, theatre artist, researcher, and speaker. As a voice teacher, she specializes in musical theatre, pop styles, the history and performance of hip-hop, and opera/musical theatre crossover. 

Foster is an Associate Professor of Instruction in the Musical Theatre area of the Department of Theatre at Northwestern University. She is on faculty for The CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute with a focus on “Teaching Pop Styles,” she is a rap and R&B coach for Rock the Audition, and she is a resident vocal consultant for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has also been guest faculty for Broadway Breakthru, IHSTA, Stagelighter, The Cherubs Program, and she serves as artist in residence for the ArtsLink Foundation. 

Foster has taught countless masterclasses and workshops around the world. Highlights include a co-taught. live-streamed  Masterclass with world renowned opera legend, Renee Fleming. Foster’s Presentation of “Rocking the Singing Boat: Pop, Rock, Singer Songwriter Folk, Country and R&B Styles” has been seen in numerous venues nationwide -- most recently in San Francisco, South Bend, New York, Chicago, and Palo Alto and Birmingham. Upcoming guest lectures include multiple universities including Temple, Goshen, Samford, and Oakland. This summer, Foster is presenting at the National conference for the National Association of Teachers of Singing with a 4 hour featured workshop on Hip-Hop and Accessibility.  Internationally, Foster is a Visiting Artist and Master Technician for a coalition of institutions and universities in Xi’an, China, Guangzhou, China, and Hong Kong. She is the Chair of Voice for the Musical Theatre Educators Alliance, and is also on their executive committee. 


Currently, Melissa is writing a book entitled “Hip-Hop: Rap and R&B~ A Performers Guide” (release date 2023) (Rowman and Littlefield Publishing). She lives in Chicago with her Husband Matt, and their 9 year old daughter, Viva. 

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