Ep.96. Who is Seth Riggs?


Who is Seth Riggs?  Seth Riggs is the creator of Speech Level Singing and the author of the book, Singing for the Stars.


Inside this video I’ll share more about this voice teacher who worked with Michael Jackson for 25 years!


Hi, I’m Chuck Gilmore with Power To Sing.


Who is Seth Riggs?


Who is Seth Riggs? Author of Singing for the StarsWho is Seth Riggs? Creator of Speech Level Singing

In November of 1996 I attended a vocal workshop taught by Seth Riggs.  The first thing we did was this: [Demo] Bubble Lipsl.  Immediately I experience something I’d never felt in my voice before.


It was the first time I’d ever vocalized that high without breaking into falsetto!  


That might seem simple, but he took me into an area of my voice in a way I’d never experienced before.  It was with connected vocal cords…not a disconnected falsetto.


Who is Seth Riggs? Creator of Speech Level Singing
Chuck Gilmore – voice lesson with Seth Riggs, 1997


That was my first few moments with Seth Riggs. In the months and years to follow, my voice and my life completely changed as a result of his teachings.


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Maurie Tarbox as “Dolly”. Chuck Gilmore as “Horace”. 

Just last night, while greeting the audience following our opening of Hello Dolly, one young lady said to me, “I love your voice. Especially at the end when you sang, ‘Hello Dolly’.”


Through the years I’ve had many of these compliments following my performances. I attribute them to the lessons I’ve learned from Seth Riggs personally and from his teachers with whom I’ve studied.


Who is Seth Riggs? Started singing here at age 9

Seth Riggs was born Sept. 19, 1930 in Maryland. As a young 9-year-old he started singing Bach and Handel in Washington, D.C. at the Washington National Cathedral. It was there that he fell in love with singing. (Singing For the Stars pp.9)


Often I’ve heard him say that he prayed to God that he could continue doing this all his life.


When his voice changed at puberty, he no longer could sing in his beautiful boy soprano voice. He was stuck in his new young man’s chest voice.


After a bachelor and masters degree in music and opera and studying with top teachers in his schools, he still could not sing into his head voice… connected.


Who is Seth Riggs – Learns to Bridge into Head Voice

Not until he was 27 years old did he discover on his own how he could bridge from chest to head voice without an interruption in the tone. That is, without reaching up and pushing harder, or disconnecting into falsetto.


And when he discovered how to bridge he made up his mind that he had to show this to other people. This became the driving force of his life, to teach others how to face and succeed in the bridges of the voice.


In a 1997 workshop in Salt Lake City he said: “This is what the old Italians did. They established the bridges and they had pedagogy which assisted those bridges staying intact.”


Seth created or assembled a pedagogy that teaches singers how to “establish the bridges” so they can sing from chest to head voice without reaching, cracking or breaking.  A “pedagogy” is a method and practice of teaching. In this case, the method and practice of teaching singers how to establish the bridges.


The results of establishing the bridges is being able to sing from chest into head voice without breaking and without reaching or straining.


Who is Seth Riggs – Bridging Revolutionized My Voice

For me personally this revolutionized my voice. I thought my voice would go no higher than the E above middle C. You’ve heard me talk about this before!


But by establishing my first bridge, I learned that that “E” was not the end of upper range, it was the bridge! And by learning to establish the first bridge, I could sing E,F,F#, G, Ab in songs and vocalize much higher in exercises!


It’s been my own personal vocal revolution started because of the vocal revolutionary Seth Riggs.


This pedagogy, this system of teaching, works.  It’s the reason why Michael Jackson studied with Seth and took him on his Thriller Tour…to keep him “tuned up like a Ferrari” in the words of Quincy Jones.


Who is Seth Riggs? Taught these and many other singing stars.

It’s the reason why Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Ray Charles, Bernadette Peters, Natalie Cole, Madonna and many, many other stars trusted their voices and careers with him. His students have won 125+ Grammy awards and he’s had 4 National Metropolitan Opera winners.  


His technique has proven itself in his student’s voices over and over again.


Who is Seth Riggs? Consummate teacher!

Seth is many other things. A supreme characteristic is his empathy. As a consummate teacher he seems to feel the singers voice in his own voice, see’s their vocal cords in his mind and he hears the subtle shifts in resonance echoing in his own vocal instrument.  


So much teaching goes on during the lesson, it’s hard to be aware of everything he’s doing with my voice. I learn much more by listening repeatedly and carefully to his lessons. His lessons keep improving me as a singer and teacher through the years.


Star Struck By Seth


Who is Seth Riggs? Teacher of the Stars!

I admit I’m a bit star struck by Seth. He has an amazing energy and force about him that’s dynamic and engaging. He can be a diplomate one moment and blunt and uncompromising the next. The latter especially when talking vocal technique and what’s best for the voice.


Personally he’s treated me and my family with interest, kindness and respect. He’s been a constant mentor and teacher.  


As of this video he’ll soon turn 86. I feel I need to take every opportunity to continue to learn from him until he stops teaching.


I’m nobody special. There are 1000’s of singers and teachers who’ve been helped by Seth. And there are many teachers, like me, who’s lives have been changed by what he’s taught us.


I feel fortunate, that I’ve had the privilege to learn from him and others he’s taught including teachers such as: Debra Bonner, Dean Kaelin, Linda Tomkinson, Greg Enriquez, John Henny, Wendy Parr, Kathy Kennedy, Katie Guthorn, Jeffrey Skouson, Guy Babusek, Angie Michelson and others.


My joy is that I can take what Seth has taught me and teach it to you. The exercises in PowerToSing.com are designed to help you establish the bridges in your voice, especially the critical first bridge.


If you know your vocal type you can download free vocal exercises that will help you quickly improve your voice.


Go to PowerToSing.com and take the vocal test which I call the PowerTest. Take the quiz and get your vocal type. Then visit the Knowledge Center and learn about your vocal type. Download the free exercises and start improving your voice immediately.


Who is Seth Riggs - Teacher and Mentor
Seth Riggs and Chuck Gilmore

I’m Chuck Gilmore with PowerToSing. Thank you Seth. Because of you, I can sing higher with beauty, confidence and power and so can my students.


I’ll see you all inside the next video.


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