All posts by Jeannette LoVetri

The Failure of Voice Science

I have been, since 1978, a strong advocate for voice science research. It’s application to vocal pedagogy has been a very strong ingredient in helping us all understand how the voice works and what the mechanism does when it is functioning optimally. My own work rests on knowledge of voice science, vocal health and medicine and vocal use in healthy singing.

Sadly, voice science has utterly failed to make sure that voice science concepts are applied in a viable manner to actual singing and training for singing. This is profoundly disturbing, especially since there is no resolution to this issue.

I am aware,  keenly aware, that there are people who teach singing who went into a lab and “researched” themselves, wrote the research up, had it published, and went on to use it as a tool to market their brand. Think about that. Read that sentence again. One would hope that these teachers sang well, that they had long life experience singing a certain way in the music marketplace. One would hope that the premises of the person originating the method had been examined by those who were NOT part of his or her own studio. These would all be false assumptions.

At no time did anyone who vetted this research examine whether or not the person who did the self-research was a good vocalist in any style, and none of what was studied by anyone was compared to accepted vocal pedagogy by singing experts. Please tell me what good it does if crazy people have the money and time to go into a voice lab, stick a scope into their own throats and make terrible sounds, call them singing, and write about it afterwards. Explain to me how it is that these same people should then go into the world and say, “My method is proven by scientific research.” How is this different from the soda companies hiring researchers to “prove” that sugar isn’t so bad for you after all. There are many examples of “scientists for hire” who have been paid to prove that a certain thing was true, even if it wasn’t. Singing methods have not been immune to this kind of pseudo science. It has been around for decades and continues to the present moment.

I recently saw a very long pitch on PBS that touted a way of getting the brain to improve its function. Research was cited to back up this claim (selling books, CDs, courses, etc.). My husband, a research chemist for 41 years, immediately looked online to read the research only to discover that mainstream science has not in any way determined that there is validity to this one doctor’s crusade for his own studies. There are, as yet, no accepted ways to avoid any kind of brain dysfunction, as he claimed, but there it was on PBS!  PBS did not vet this man’s work in any way. Let the buyer beware!

There are at least two very successful methods of singing teaching used internationally that are based on very faulty concepts. They are faulty because they violate the body’s hard-wired need to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide freely and easily. Squeezing, holding, pushing, pulling, retracting, constricting and all other manner of direct manipulation of the inside of the throat while making sound violates the freedom of the larynx as a joint and will never, ever be useful in any kind of vocal production even though  people can make these gestures and still manage to squawk out a sound anyway.

It is wrong, yes, wrong, for voice science to continue its deliberate refusal to hold responsible those who do “research” with a personal ax to grind. That’s NOT research. Further, the profession of teaching singing is a contributor to this lack of responsibility because it has steadfastly and with vehemence been unwilling to license singing teachers or even provide a modicum of guidance about acceptable professional parameters for teachers.

I ask again and again what good is research if it gives credence to people whose singing is horrid, whose idea of being a singer is severely skewed and who have no clue about whether what they do works with or against the body over time? If all you scrutinize is statistics (and that is all that is scrutinized) how can this contribute to vocal well-being? It cannot!! This is how you end up with books that say you can teach someone to belt by looking for a certain formula of formants to harmonics. Nonsense!

In the end, no one cares. If you purchase a course that tells you the best way to sing is to constrict your aryepiglottic sphincter or retract your false folds or curb your larynx or add edge to your vocal folds, and you think this is just fine, they you are a victim of PT Barnum’s phrase: “There’s a sucker born every minute.” It’s your tough luck that you end up sounding like someone is crushing your  foot while you sing. If you end up with nodules, oh well.

Singing, after all, is no big deal. Any kind of singing is OK as long as you become a star and make a lot of money. All the methods, particularly for CCM styles, are the same, right? The best ones are the ones that use voice research as a selling tool. What kind of science? Who cares?

If you happen to be that unusual person who doesn’t want to go along with all this hooey, and you are also someone who might like to think about something a bit deeper when it comes to singing, if you are interested in singing training and performance that is more authentic and grounded in the real world of making voiced sound, you might want to investigate what else is available in the field of vocal pedagogy.

 

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Loud, louder and loudest

I attended a performance a few nights ago. It was in a small theater, probably an old Vaudeville theater that had been revamped. The show was “Hair” and it was decently done, although it seemed a bit chaotic. The biggest problem was the volume. Although the band was in a space high above the stage in the back, and the performers were miked, I suspected the actors couldn’t hear themselves as they spent the entire evening shouting. It got worse and worse and in Act Two, it was all I could do not to hold my ears.

This problem made it nearly impossible to understand lyrics, it also killed some of the artistic finesse in a few of the songs that help give the show some ups and downs. Just because it was a 60s rock musical doesn’t mean that all the music should be screamed.

It was a first performance. Who knows, maybe it will get better? There are only a few performances scheduled.

I come to events as a singer and singing teacher. My head, my mind if you will, wants to hear singers sing. I do not object outright to actors whose singing isn’t terrific but I do object to pitch issues, unintelligibility, and consistently ugly sounds that do not have to be ugly to convey something unless what is being conveyed is meant to be — ugly. Sometimes it’s as if the people who deal with the music are “voice deaf”. They do not know what a well-trained voice sounds like or how it works, and, what’s worse, they don’t care to learn…….after all they are already in charge without knowing. I’m speaking here, folks, of well-trained pop-rock vocalists, not opera singers or legit music theater voices. There is such a thing as singing any kind of music well. It not only cuts down on the possibility that the vocal folds will be injured or fatigued it actually facilitates the clarity of the text and the impetus of the music to move the drama forward.

The people in the show were, for the most part, professionals. The presentation certainly was meant to be done as professionally as possible. Why, then, pay zero attention to the singing? You can assume that the people in charge didn’t think it was worth paying attention to.

We have lost the idea that singing has parameters having to do with real life. Screaming, in life, is a sign of alarm. If the music isn’t meant to be alarming, why scream? Happiness, joy, exuberance or surprise can be loud, but that loud should sound different than anger, fear, or sadness. These days, you can’t tell anything in a sound because so much of everything is loud for loud’s sake.

What’s worse, quite a few young people do not know what they are missing. They don’t know what the experience of hearing someone sing well  in a live performance without screaming, particularly one that is acoustic, is. How can they fix things they do not know are wrong or could be better? They can’t and they don’t and they won’t unless somewhere along the way they wake-up.

Education derives from the word “educare” which means ‘lead out’. It is related to educe that means  to bring out (as something latent). If you are not educated by someone who leads you out of the darkness and into the light (in this case of singing) you can be in the darkness and not know you are there. That is a tragedy.

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Registers and Such

When I taught last April in Chicago, a group of four classical singing teachers attended and on the second day they informed me that the course was “beneath them”. They understood everything in the course already, they told me, and that it should be only for beginners. This was based on the idea that they had heard about “chest and head” for years and what was the big deal with that, anyway?

I’ve run into this before. A quick glance, a decision based on a surface evaluation, and then, a dismissal. I’ve had people come in for one or two lessons and then say, “well, I’ve figured out what this woman has to offer, ” and then walk away. I know a Professor at a very famous music conservatory who sat in my studio for an entire day, furiously writing down every exercise I did. I have had some of her former students since then. She got the exercises all wrong, but that happens frequently. This woman, like many others, never bothered to clarify if she had understood what I was doing and why, or when to apply one exercise versus another. She never had the interest to take a lesson herself or wonder why any of the exercises were necessary in the first place. She got her “few points” and ran away. Of course, she had a Doctoral Degree in classical literature and was teaching students in music theater to belt. Right.

I find this fascinating. Since I have many elite professional singers who have studied with me for 10, 15, 20 or even 30 years, how is it that they haven’t decided that they don’t need any further training? Wouldn’t they, by now, have gotten past the basics? Wouldn’t they have understood what it is I teach?

Registration (the various vocal registers) result due to changes in the behavior of the vocal folds. Balanced registration is the basis for “appropriate” sound in both classical and CCM styles and it makes correct resonance not only possible, it allows it to show up almost without effort. Register balance not only allows the larynx to rest in a comfortable, steady but flexible adjustment, it allows the vowel sounds to be undistorted and the management of the breath and body to be a natural expression. If you think that “chest register” (or whichever of the many other terms to describe this same thing you like best), is just about low notes, or loud sounds in your lowest range, you absolutely do not understand its function. Register balance allows you to expose technical problems and their location in the throat and body. How? How indeed! Maybe it might take a bit more probing to understand that a surface glance isn’t nearly enough.

In fact, misunderstanding registration is the single biggest blind spot classical singers have.  Because of that, they struggle to get the “placement” right, and to get the “breath support” right, without bothering to get the source of the sound situated in such a way as to make both possible in equal measure with little muscular struggle.

Somatic Voicework™ is simple but it is not simplistic. It is accessible but it is not a quick fix. It is based on the body’s function (it needs to breathe in and out as easily as possible) and the throat’s responses to stress, (the fight/flight mechanism) but it is not a series of manipulations you need to do while singing. It’s only “beneath” the people for whom singing is, itself, a surface activity, and who regard singing as something you have to manufacture, not something that arises out of your heart. It is only “too simple” for those who are, themselves, unable to plumb the depths of human expression in the human voice. Those singers don’t get what I do because, in fact, it is over their heads. Or maybe I should say, under their feet, as in “beneath their ability to perceive.”

I once heard a singing teacher say that Leontyne Price, one of the greatest classical sopranos of all time, couldn’t sing. I heard another one say that Dietrich Fischer-Diskau was boring. I have heard others say that Puccini is a hack composer. These are people who consider themselves experts, although I wonder how they decided they deserved to give themselves that designation. My opinion of them is probably best if I don’t mention it here.

No matter who is teaching you, or what they are teaching, if you cannot look below the surface to the long-term value of what is being offered, you are a poor student. No one can decide after a day or two that they have figured out a person, a methodology or an approach to anything. You can’t really even do that after 5 months or two years. The process deepens only if you allow it to.

Be careful what you say. Sometimes it backfires and just makes you look like someone who is clueless.

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Integrity? In 2017? Really?

Integrity? In 2017?? Really?

The Merriam-Webster definition has this example:

She had the integrity to refuse to compromise on matters of principle.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

In ethics, integrity is regarded by many people as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions. Integrity can stand in opposition to hypocrisy, in that judging with the standards of integrity involves regarding internal consistency as a virtue, and suggests that parties holding within themselves apparently conflicting values should account for the discrepancy or alter their beliefs. The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.

It’s very easy to say “I have integrity” if no one ever challenges you. The only time this quality shows up is when you are being asked to participate in a behavior that will ask you to do something that isn’t in alignment with your values. That assumes, of course, that you have values. Some individuals do not. If you think that having values means doing whatever you want just because you can, you are truly clueless. 

Here is what one highly regarded university has to say about “integrity” in their policies:

X is a learning community that fosters the pursuit of knowledge and the transmission of ideas within a context that emphasizes a sense of responsibility for oneself, for others and for society at large. To preserve the quality of education offered to students, the university is responsible for maintaining academic integrity and protecting all those who depend on it, including the community partners and institutional affiliates. Violations of academic integrity, in any of their forms, are, therefore, detrimental to the values of this university, to the students’ own development as responsible members of society, to the pursuit of knowledge, and to the transmission of ideas. All members of the university community share the responsibility for creating conditions that support academic integrity(1).

If you know that your behavior is “slightly untrue” and you have to “put a spin on it” in order for it to be successful; if you knowingly do something that will harm another who has been good to you and just don’t care; if you act without scrupulous personal honesty, absolute self-examination or the ability to stand alone towards the good in your actions, even when others deride you for so doing, you have no integrity. Even if you do something by accident and find out later that your actions were out-of-integrity, you still have an obligation to be responsible, make amends where possible, and apologize.

If you claim that you have been doing something for a specific number of years when it has really been far less, if you copy something successfully created by another because you are unable, on your own, to create something uniquely your own;  if you go behind a person’s back to operate in a deceitful manner and then act if what you have done and are doing is “no big deal”; then you are like all the others who have no courage and no decency. You are dishonest.

If you ride on someone else’s reputation because you don’t have one of your own and then claim that you are the reason for your own success, you are essentially lying and a liar has no integrity.

These days, most people not only don’t care, they don’t even think at any time, “Do my actions have integrity?” I really believe they never contemplate the question.

We live in a world in which acting without integrity is often rewarded. That doesn’t make it right. Certainly the POTUS is an example of someone with absolutely no integrity in any area whatsoever who was rewarded with the most powerful job on earth.

Many people who consider themselves “spiritual” or “good people” will act without integrity to make money, get something they desire, make a reputation or crush someone else to surge ahead. They will make excuses, they will justify, they will be casual, dismissive and flippant. They will go to their religious services to show their piety. They will donate to charity, be nice to kids and take the dog to the vet. They will still lack integrity.

If you are an instructor, you cannot ever, in any circumstance, violate your own integrity. You cannot act in such a way as to harm another person, institution or ideal to benefit yourself.  Even if others don’t know, you do.  You think you can get away with it, but you will pay a price. You will never have a free conscience.

If you cannot, as the above quote says, maintain academic [my words added here: or personal] integrity and protect all those who depend on it, you have no values. If you cannot tell the absolute, honest truth when under fire, you have no worth. If you are afraid to do what’s right and then act in a questionable manner because you can,  you have no character or moral fiber.

Be very careful how you behave. You cannot purchase integrity. Without it, you are truly worthless.

(1) name of university available upon request.

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Registers, Vowels, Formants, Harmonics

The topic of formant/harmonic tuning is a very hot one in voice science circles these days. It explains a lot of what we hear as sound in various vocal qualities and gives us clearer guidelines about how the vocal tract is functioning acoustically.

Knowing, however, isn’t doing. Knowing is learned through trial and error by listening and feeling over time, hopefully with educated eyes and ears nearby to guide you. Only singing can teach you to sing, just like dancing can teach you to dance, playing can teach you to play (an instrument or a sport) and acting can teach you to act. It isn’t possible to be good at anything by knowing about it. It’s not like arithmetic (which doesn’t change and can be learned from a book) or by any of the hard sciences which are definable by math, geometry, physics or the laws of the universe as we presently understand them.

The same can be said of music. You can learn to play or sing notes, you might even learn to make them louder or softer or sustain them for a longer time. You cannot learn to be musical or expressive by making pitched-based noises. There is an element of sensitivity required that might be cultivated but in some people it’s just how they react naturally. Someone like me, who never worked on being expressive with any coach or teacher, who had to learn to control my reactions not develop reactions, is a natural in the sense that the music does a lot of the work. Singing in this way is not difficult, and can be very fulfilling.

Can I line up my formants and harmonics? I suppose so. If I have the right equipment and I understand what I’m doing, could I align them in specific ways? I guess. Do I need to do that to be a good singer? Nope. It’s good to know and to understand. It’s useful to grasp the material world’s functional parameters including those that occur in the body. Does that help me sing? No. Does it help me avoid stupid explanations about what happens when I sing? You bet!

If you understand registers as both feeling and sound, and if you can adjust the shapes in your throat and mouth, including your face, your jaw position and your lips, all you need to add is volume, pitch and duration. Being artistic, however, is not found in those ingredients nor is it to be discovered in formant/harmonic tuning or open/closed quotients. It’s found in your body, your heart and your imagination.

 

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I’m Good Enough Already

I just encountered this again. Sadly, there are people, even professional people, who think this. They get to a place they like and they stay there, sometimes forever.

What kind of artist thinks, “I’m good enough already?” What kind of  singer has the idea that there is no further place to go? A bad one, I would say.

Being an artist comes with the responsibility to always be looking for the next discovery and if you sing, that discovery should be at least partly in the voice itself. As you grow, and later as you age, the body is constantly changing. Working to be the best vocalist you can should be an on-going journey for all the time that you sing. It should continue if you become a teacher after no longer performing, as not to keep digging will make you a less dynamic, interesting guide for others.

There are a lot of reasons why people do not continue to work on their singing, most of them not good. Unless there is some kind of debilitating illness or a change in life circumstances that warrants a period of withdrawal from vocal study, a singer who is lazy, complacent, disinterested, lacks confidence, afraid, bored, or simply an egotist, should be addressing the voice as a life task. I have been asked by students, “Why should I work on my voice any more? I like it the way it is.” The answer to that is always the same. “How do you know that you have found all of what your voice can do? How do you know the voice that you like so much couldn’t be even more wonderful? How do you know if you are doing something that isn’t good which could be improved by working with a true expert?” Really, who are you, who is anyone, to think, “I’m already good enough.”

I have been blessed in my life to work with some of the top vocal artists in the world — people making their livelihood by performing as singers — and none of those people (zero) was “content” to rest upon his or her laurels. The more professional they were, they more willing they were to work on being not just good  but excellent.

If you have run out of ways to work on your voice and on your singing, you need to acknowledge that it is completely unnecessary to be stuck there. Skilled teachers will find ways to take you to the next place, to challenge you to grow and to find new ways to be artistic when you sing. You might have to look to find the right instructor, but if you seek, you will find.

Never rest on your past or current accomplishments. Doesn’t work.

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Branding

Some recent articles about the profession of teaching singing have strongly protested branding. Seems a few people are outraged that singing teachers have brands and give out certifications. These critics say that all the information anyone ever needs has been for around for years and that nothing else is necessary.  They are condemning and suspicious of branding. They believe that what you need, of course, is a doctorate (in classical singing).  That’s better than anyone’s brand or certification. 😬 Right.

I guess these people have never heard of The Alexander Technique®, Feldenkrais® work, Suzuki® training, Montessori® schools, The Lee Silverman Method®, or dozens of other branded methods of training in different fields that are educational in nature. They may not have heard  of copyrighting a book or article that addresses a specific pedagogical point of view.  Haven’t all the good pedagogy articles and books already been written? Who needs another “expert” opinion on breathing or formant/harmonic tuning? Don’t we all already have that information? Since a few of these people think you can teach belting by “matching up the right numbers”, even though they can’t sing a belt song under any circumstances, I wonder how clearly they grasp anything else.

If operatic training prepared you to sing metal rock, all opera singers would be able to sing metal rock. If metal rock prepared you to sing opera, all metal rock singers would be good opera singers. (After all, they are both loud.) If singing in mix was a great way to sing either metal rock or opera, then no one would need lessons and everyone would, indeed, sing every style of music with equal ease. Guess that’s not true, huh? Maybe someone should point that out to these experts who may not, in fact, be as expert as they themselves think, particularly when it comes to the actual singing and not just the “talking about” singing. 😶

Being outraged that some teachers have discovered a successful way to organize singing training that isn’t based on breath support, resonance or formant/harmonic tuning only shows profound ignorance. Being against branding is like being against high speed rail trains……useless. Sooner or later, all trains will be high speed. Some countries are already using them. Sooner or later, the most successful methods of singing training will be recognizable brands. Some already are.

Yes, there are some really crazy teachers of singing out there and yes, they have methods and give out certifications but not everyone is in the noodnik category of Mr. and Mrs. Outrage’s articles. Some people who have brands actually have the endorsement of high level voice scientists, speaking voice pathologists, medical doctors, award-winning singers, highly experienced singing teachers (with doctoral degrees) and university music departments who are open to learning new things from someone else. If you lump everyone with a brand into the same “lousy” and “suspect” category, you are simply showing your own prejudice and exposing that you have not done your investigative homework. It’s like saying McDonald’s is bad because the food you get in every McDonald’s all over the world is exactly the same. No, that’s actually one of the strengths of McDonald’s. It may have problems, but that’s not one of them.

Since the profession has been completely unwilling and unable to organize itself to have even the smallest amount of agreement about what singing training is or should be in any style including classical, it leaves it open to individuals who have been willing to take a stand to do so. The educational vacuum left by the professional associations will be filled. The profession cannot, then, be angry when that is done. Individuals who protest branding should look at why such training programs are so successful when they are.

Those who write to vent should take care. It doesn’t work. I would say to Mr. and Mrs. Academia, “A majority of your information seems  to be about things that have existed for 200 years. Maybe it’s time you had the humility to explore the new things you have dismissed as being beneath you and find out why other people want a certification. A method based on solid premises and a long established public history might be well worth your exploration. Who knows, if you actually see it with open eyes, you might learn something. Wouldn’t that be an illuminating experience?”

 

 

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“Post-Truth” Singing

It is hard to imagine but we are currently living in an age of “post-truth.” It is difficult to wrap my mind around the idea that truth is not real but whatever someone says it is, yet this is being stated every day. This is incredibly dangerous. There is also “post-truth” singing.

Hiding behind things that are lies is not new. Many have done that  since recorded history began. What’s new is that our mainstream society has become comfortable with that as a new normal. It has taken on the idea that we each “create our own reality” and grossly distorted what that means.

Let’s get something straight. Each of us is responsible for our own lives. We can choose how to react to what happens to us, or has happened in the past, and we can choose to deal with all repercussions of our existence in a positive manner, even if that is sometimes very challenging. Together, we create families, groups of friends, organizations, local and state governments, federal governments and world governments. In each of these we have groups of people who, more or less, agree to hold the same or nearly the same point of view. As the group increases in size, the power of the thoughts that hold it together magnifies. When the beliefs are held by millions of people, they get very powerful. Those who know how to harness those beliefs can be helpful or harmful, depending on their own philosophical ideas.

Only those beliefs which are uplifting are worth holding. All negative beliefs lead to pain and suffering, to harm and to deterioration. That which is dark, hidden, distorted and twisted produces the same. The only counterbalance to this is light, openness, honor, and yes, truth. That which is redeeming and uplifting is worthy and that which is degrading and condemning is not. A choice. A necessary choice, in every human being, every day. As Yoda would say, “Beware the dark side. It will overtake you if you let it.”

In singing, there have been individuals who have decided that what they believe, others should also believe. Some have done research (if you could call it that) on their own throats, assuming that what holds true for them automatically holds true for others. With hubris, these people decide that everyone else should cause the same movements within their throats that they see in their own. They dictate that these manipulative movements, whatever they may be, are good and useful. This ploy is powerful particularly to those who know little about the voice and who are easily swayed by any argument.  We in our Western society have for hundreds of years rested upon the belief that science is based on truth, on data, on findings which are shared in order to be replicated without bias by others. Those who use science to build their case by manipulating the data to favor their own ideas are dangerous, as this is not science at all. It is “post-truth” information.

Only by observing a wide range of behaviors in a wide range of singers and comparing them, one to the other, can there be any science, valid and provable by objective measures. And, without a context in which the data is evaluated, the importance of it cannot be known. If I study gorillas in a cage in a lab, what does that tell me about gorillas in a rainforest? If I study “belters” in African bush culture is that the same as studying “belters” on Broadway? How can any valid conclusions be drawn?  If I study myself, and I assume that all singers do exactly what I do, is that even possible to assume? By what means can we determine that?

Beware those who claim something based solely on their own experience. Beware people who would make themselves more powerful than others by declaration. “I am the only person who can tell you the truth” is never truthful. No. The only things that cannot lie, that will never lie, are the body itself and the throat as part of the body. Therein only lies the truth of freedom, of expression, of being alive as a human being.

Now, more than ever, it is necessary to take only that which can be found to be objective, and proved by objective measures, to be true. Beware all those who tell you they have the only answers. Do not be fooled by the noise, the packaging, the show, the marketing, the media circus. Trust, instead, your own voice and body, your own wisdom and your own heart. In singing and in life.

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Conscious Singing

Most people do not fully understand the power and depth of sound as a creative force in the universe. Conscious singing, that is, being  a conscious sound-maker, or being one who brings forth the primary creative energy of the Universe, is an extraordinary experience. It is  simultaneously transformative to do and to hear.

Someone singing from the depth of his or her soul, pouring all mental and emotional energy into the sound and the intention of the words and music, is aligning with the energy of life itself. In the beginning was the Word or the Sound is real. Particularly for those who do not process the voice through any type of  electronic amplification, sound uttered in this manner carries an irresistibly riveting  magnetic energy.

In some traditions such as Indian, Islamic and Hebrew, the people who are the “keepers” of the sound understand this and are trained to be able to encompass it. It takes years of dedicated work to be able to “get out-of-the-way” and let the sound sing you. In order to be able hold and use such sounds, made through the physical body,  a singer must develop an exquisitely prepared mechanism, one that is both pure and strong.

Sometimes these people become famous singers, recognized in the world, but not always. Some are known only to small groups, some are never known. Those who dedicate their lives to generating sound as this level are moving the sub-atomic particles of the universe (as we understand it now). This requires the purest heart and the most profound willingness to serve the highest good with nothing asked in return. That there are people who do this could be hard to imagine but they do exist although they are very rare.

At this time, when our entire planet is being challenged by energy that is dark and forbidding, conscious singing is needed to help strengthen everything that is of love and light. If you respond at all to these words or if they seem to stir in your heart any awareness or desire to know what the words truly mean, you must listen to your intuition. Singing not for fame and fortune, not for recognition in the world but to transform daily life, asks for many spiritual qualities: dedication, perseverance, humility, courage, insight, clarity, open-heartedness, sacrifice and many other qualities. Singing consciouly  becomes a force for healing and for good. It lifts up those who hear it and it carries the vocalist on a stream of energy that is indescribable.

When ones sings from the source of sound in the Universe, out of, as it were, the heart of God, the entire planet hears and is energized, whether they are aware or not. If you are called to sing in this way, you will not find in the many popular methods of vocal training a quick answer in maneuvers to give you special effects as if you were a singing circus. You will not find answers on YouTube in the “trending” videos or on Facebook from teachers of singing who have thousands of “likes”. No. To find a teacher who can guide you on this specific path, you have to arrive at his or her studio through the guidance of the Universe itself. And do not be  quick to judge the book by the cover. Sometimes those who look least likely are the True Masters hiding their inner glory from the world. The light within cannot be seen with just your physical eyes and the information in your intellect.

Stand, if you will, in the light of your glorious, beautiful, effulgent, radiant voice. Do the necessary work to liberate it in and through your physical body, harnessing the depth and power of your breathing to the clear intention of your mind. Allow your sound to be the bridge between this world and the next, between your body and your soul. Allow the sound to be present in each moment by releasing it as it passes through you to die away after you utter it. Accept nothing less than that as truth and let what sounds you make in this way ring out to the world, if only in the solitude of your home. Be a conscious singer.

This is what is needed now on this earth. Now is the time. Are you called? If so, then seek and ye shall find.

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Never Too Late

It’s never too late to find your true voice. If you are open to exploring, if you have a sense of singing, if you are willing to have that experience, age is no barrier.

Recently, in a master class, I was able to help someone find his voice in a way that he never had. In about 30 minutes we shifted into a sound that was truly beautiful, in a classical vocal production, and he was surprised and delighted. After we were done he said he felt he had found the voice he had always searched for. This man was in his mid-60s and has been singing all his life. The shift was small but produced huge results.

With my work, this happens on a regular basis in master classes and in the studio. It also happens in the studios of those who have taken Somatic Voicework™ into their own hearts and use it wherever they may be. It isn’t some “magic” that exists only in me. It works because the throat and the body function in certain ways and when you sing in ways that are in concert with those behaviors, the sound emerges. By itself.

It hurts to see people teach things that tie a student in vocal knots, or force a student to sing in a particular mode or style at an early age, or ask for the student to make the throat do things it doesn’t like or want to do, or ask the student to strive for “resonance” at any cost, or deliberately constrict, hold, move, position, force or manipulate any structure within the throat itself. Absolutely none of that is ever necessary. If you don’t believe that, go back to the home page and listen to me go from Bellini, to Carmichael, to Three Dog Night. I did not need to do any of the above things to make those changes. Live. Unedited. At 66. With a bum left vocal fold.

If you still want to force your voice in the name of “vocal technique” you need to ask yourself why. It’s never too late to come home to the voice you have always had and couldn’t find.

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