Frequently Asked Questions

When and how was Pocket Coach Publications started?
Pocket Coach Publications made its first sale in May 1980 and was started by Dietrich Erbelding, founder and producer. It took over five years of preparation to develop the Pocket Coach systematic, step-by-step coaching format and the production techniques resulting in the highest quality recordings.

Why the name, “Pocket Coach?”
The name “Pocket Coach” was chosen because a cassette tape, the original media format of Pocket Coach products, could fit conveniently in a singer’s pocket and thus be available anytime and anywhere needed.

What is the significance of the Pocket Coach logo?
The Pocket Coach logo was designed by Peter Graeff, renowned graphic artist in the San Francisco Bay Area, who also designed the Crocker Bank logo, among many others. Inside, the round design includes a P and a C to represent “Pocket Coach”. The logo displays the Asian yin and yang symbols which represents the merging of two opposite energies, meaningful to Mr. Erbelding because he had just returned from teaching in Japan for two years at the prestigious Musashino University in Tokyo. If you look carefully, the Pocket Coach logo also displays the two holes of a cassette tape.

Who is Dietrich Erbelding, Founder of Pocket Coach Publications?
Dietrich Erbelding is a renowned vocal coach and teacher, piano accompanist and opera conductor who also has a strong entrepreneurial spirit. He enjoyed careers as a concert pianist and accompanist, teacher, coach and conductor in Europe, South America, Japan and the US. He started Pocket Coach Publications because he wanted to make systematic high-quality practice sessions on CDs for his students and other singers. Pocket Coach Publications is the summation of his rich experience in the theater, studio and classroom, and is his legacy to the singing community. For more information about Dietrich Erbelding, click on About the Founder/Producer.

What do all those abbreviations mean, like, Rc, Rp, Di, M/P, or M/O?
These abbreviations indicate the Pocket Coach study-step method, which helps the singer learn repertoire efficiently, right the first time. This systematic method helps to save valuable lesson time that can be otherwise spent on vocal technique, and expression because the singer can have the song mastered before he or she comes to the lesson or coaching session. Here are the steps and how they work:

Recitation Step (Rc). The native speaker fluently recites the words of the song or aria. This gives the singer a sense of the flow of the language, and a chance to learn the proper word stresses and the general feeling of the language.

Repetition Step (Rp). The native speaker slowly reads each phrase of the song or aria and then pauses to allow the singer to repeat immediately afterwards. This allows the singer to practice pronouncing each phrase like a language tape. This step quickly and efficiently teaches the mechanics of a language, like correct vowel sounds and double consonants, and gives the beginning singer confidence to sing in a foreign language. This step can also be used in memorizing a song by speaking each phrase in the pause before the speaker so that any corrections can be immediately noted. This makes memory work a snap.

Diction Step (Di). The words of the song or aria are spoken in rhythm while the melody is played on a separate channel by a flute. This helps the singer fit the words to the melody. This is a step often used by professional coaches and allows the singer to fine tune his or her pronunciation.

Melody with Piano Accompaniment (M/P) or Orchestral Accompaniment (M/O). The melody is played on one channel while the piano or orchestral accompaniment is played on the other channel. This allows the singer to practice singing first with just melody, then gradually adding more accompaniment until the singer can sing with accompaniment channel alone, using the balance knob on a stereo system.

Translation (Tr). A literal word-for-word translation is given to help the singer develop his or her own personal interpretation of the song or aria. When the meaning of each word is known, the singer can more effectively communicate with the audience. In the music books, literal translations are printed underneath the non-English lyrics. For the Gold Label Performance Series orchestral aria collections and single aria CDs, literal translations are printed on the CD insert card.

Why are orchestral accompaniments important for the singer?
The Virtual Orchestra was developed to give the singer the opportunity to get accustomed to singing with a less percussive, more fluid orchestral accompaniment. On orchestral CDs, the orchestral accompaniment is first presented with a melody on a separate channel so the singer can gradually eliminate the melody track from the orchestral accompaniment as he or she masters changes in tempo, fermatas, orchestral cues and the aria’s orchestral textures. The orchestral CDs also provide an orchestral accompaniment in stereo which can be used in performance.

Has the Virtual Orchestra been used in full-length live performances?
The Virtual Orchestra has accompanied full-length opera productions of Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel, Wagner’s Die Walküre, Strauß’s Die Fledermaus and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte as well as gala concerts, operas in the park, recitals, and choral concerts. It is often used in intimate venues which are too small to accommodate a full orchestra, making opera possible in garden settings, parks, and small halls that cannot accomodate an orchestra. In these smaller settings opera can be introduced to both young and old, introducing them to the exciting world of opera. The Virtual Orchestra enables small community groups with limited financial means to present a complete opera or a concert of opera arias with orchestral accompaniment and give local singers the chance to sing with orchestral accompaniment. The Virtual Orchestra has also helped to build a future audience of opera lovers by performing many full-length productions of Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel for thousands of school children.