By Jennifer Spencer
I have many students from many different backgrounds that enter my classroom, studio, and rehearsal hall on a daily basis, and every time they do, I am reminded of what an incredible gift I have been given, and how I must be vigilant not to abuse this gift or diminish what they bring in each and every day. Each and every voice I come into contact with needs to be valued for the person that inhabits it, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, race, marital or family status, gender identity or expression, sex characteristics, creed, age, colour, disability, political or religious belief. (The italicized text, which I freely admit to plagiarizing, comes from the welcome that is outside Canada House at the Olympics.)
My job is to make sure that each and every student leaves with a flexible instrument, body, and voice, able to make responsive vocal/physical choices that will allow them to operate in the world in a healthful way for the duration of their lives, after all, they are going to be persons operating in the world for a lot longer than they are being artists on the stage, in movies, or on TV. Their voices and bodies need to work well and freely, not just on the stage, but also in their lives.
I want the students I work with to stand tall, balanced, and easy when they leave my classes and go into their lives. I want them to be able to use their voices in a healthy way from a physiologically truthful place, that allows them to go easily from speaking to singing with all other stops in between, and have voices/bodies that respond freely to a variety of life and artistic situations.
I want to provide them with experiences where they realize that they do not have to clench every muscle in their bodies to produce a spoken or sung sound or simply to inhale and exhale. I want to provide them with experiences where they realize their tongues do not have to be balls of cement sucked up to the roofs of their mouths, rendering them incapable of articulating their wants, wishes, and desires. I want to give them the experience of not having to clench their jaws as they move through their lives, and squeeze their voices and thoughts out as if those thoughts and ideas were the last scraps of dried toothpaste in a tube that one must use or else. [Read more…] about A Vocal Wish List