Episode 023 | Dr. Melody Rich | What is IPA?

We delve into IPA with Dr. Melody Rich in this episode. IPA stands for the International Phonetic Alphabet. It has been used for years, especially in the realms of voice coaching for classical singers because of its ability to help people pronounce different languages. It is a wonderful tool for singers and voice teachers to have so they can sing in many languages. 

(3:00) The back story of Dr. Melody started with living in Taiwan and then in San Antonio, TX, where she was exposed to other languages. 

(6:25) When Dr. Melody took voice lessons in high school, she really was inspired by her own voice teachers. “All I wanted to do was do what they did…and help other people.” 

(10:35) She tells how she really had a respect for both musical theater and opera. 

(13:45) IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet—an alphabet of symbols that equal a sound. One symbol equals one sound.   Orthographs = symbols that are letters      Phonemes = symbols that equal one sound and one sound only 

(15:15) In 1886, British and French teachers formed a group and put out the first version of the IPA chart for any language. 

(17:15) The symbols are suggestive of the sounds they represent.  closed o = [ o ] 

open o = [ ɔ ] 

(20:15) IPA can give singers a real sense of clarity in how to pronounce lyrics for singing. 

(21:29) IPA allows for quick notation of lyrics. 

(23:55) Dr. Melody wanted to sound true to a language so teaching IPA was a natural fit for her. 

(25:50) Dr. Melody recommends that voice teachers should learn IPA to be able to offer their students the ability to sing in languages that they themselves don’t know. 

(28:43) You can get a subscription to IPAsource.com  (This includes spelling of words, the IPA transcription and the word for word translation) 

(31:50) The YouTube sources for IPA can be good. Dr. Melody encourages people to find a voice similar in quality and pitch to your own for pronunciation of IPA. 

(32:25) Using flashcards for IPA can be super helpful—especially ones that you create yourself. 


If you would like to get ahold of Dr. Melody Rich, feel free to Facebook her: Melody Rich

or you can email her at: mxr151@shsu.edu 

Her website will be up in November 2019 and you can find her there at www.melodyrich.com 


If you want to be a part of a community that talks all things vocal, pop over to The Engaging Voice Singers (Facebook). 

Here is the link:https://www.facebook.com/groups/275720043147345/

You can find this and other episodes on theengingvoice.com and at Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, iHeart radio, iTunes and radio.com 

For a free PDF of Ways to Practice the Voice Consistently, please click here and grab your download:


Here is an IPA chart!


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