What is “natural singing”? Sometimes we say that someone “is a natural” or that the music seems to come so “naturally” from their throats. What does that mean? If we listen to the following singers – a lead in a traditional Chinese opera, a country singer in a noisy bar, and a Lieder singer in […]
[This is an excerpt from Chapter 3 “The Confusions”.] Long ago I thought of the human voice as an instrument, just in a different family than brasses and woodwinds and strings and electronics, but I now think of flutes and violins and synthesizers as surrogate voices. There can be no doubt that music that used […]
In baseball and track and tennis, they call mechanics “form”. Think about how that is different from controlling your body muscle by muscle. When I am being coached in weightlifting, I am told how to move, how to shape my motions, how to hold the bar. I’m not trying to control individual muscles. Certain exercises […]
For this article “mechanistic directive” means: an instruction for a specific physical action to make some aspect of singing work differently. Example: Make a widening stretch in the soft palate when singing an ascending interval. Useful: If it makes singing more beautiful with less effort. If after many conscious attempts it starts to become automatic. […]
Sometimes when I’m talking shop with colleagues they will tell me about a recent course, workshop, or book that they have learned from. Sometimes they may say, “You probably know all about that.” That is never true. If I have made the study of a topic my life’s work, my niche in the vocal world, […]
I have written about the dangers of an imagery-based mode of instruction for voice. Images are generally conveyed with words, sometimes also with gestures. Examples of imagery in voice teaching would be directives like: Direct the sound against the hard palate. Fill with air down to your lower abdomen. Split the resonance between your throat […]
This term drives me nuts. It’s a great example of describing what happens, but not what to do. If you sing a rising octave sliding between the pitches, and keep it gentle and sweet rather than loud or powerful, you can get in touch with the fact that yes, the cricothyroid muscles pull the thyroid […]
- Teacher gives weird image-based concept, like “breathe through the soles of your feet” (real advice from a real voice teacher).
- She sings the passage to demonstrate.
- The student copies the demonstration.
- Teacher thinks the imagery “worked”, when really it’s modeling better singing that actually worked, and the student found the same effect in her own voice. The teacher may as well have said “feel it in your knees” as long as the demonstration was adequate.
Brad Jenks, a Chicago area voice teacher, recently made me aware of his excellent blog post. He questions the walls that exist between “classical” and “____” voice instruction. I agree with every word, and enjoy the thoughtful and good-humored way in which he describes the issue. Peter T. Harrison also discusses this topic in Singing: […]
Let’s take a look at “cracking the code” of a teacher’s vocabulary. If you have been fortunate enough to have had a teacher who helped you acquire singing concepts that were helpful, you are lucky. Alternatively, if by your experiences and brain power you have figured out how to sing reasonably well even with confusing instruction, […]
This is a topic for a long book, but I’ll practice my conciseness skills. If you are teaching voice (or any other subject) and you use terminology such that “chair” is no longer a piece of furniture on which you can sit, then you had better explain in the most minute detail what the new […]
What does “resonance” mean? You can look up different dictionary definitions as well as I can, but today let’s call it “maximum sound output per energy unit expended”. Let’s assume this includes a nice distribution of overtones that gives the voice a pleasing timbre. Generally, when we sing, we are hoping to make sounds that […]