No Method Makes Sense If It Violates The Body

There are a lot of “methods” out there. There are lots of people who teach singing using a method. (I have one).

If the method asks the vocalist to do something that throats do not do, if it teaches a vocalist to attempt to make a sound by doing something that we don’t need to do to produce it, if it says that any kind of maneuver is OK so long as you can manage it, my advice is to go somewhere else.

Many people who teach singing don’t know a thing about vocal function. Some people still (amazingly) do not know that we have a larynx and two vocal folds that vibrate to produce sound. There is all manner of confusion about what happens when we do make sound, particularly sung sound, and all kinds of mis-labeling of same.

It is well established that proprioceptively speaking what we feel and what is actually happening don’t have to agree. Said differently, it means that what we feel individually, subjectively, as we make sound, may have nothing whatsoever to do with what the body is actually doing. If we make up a theory about what is happening and decide that it’s “REAL” because we feel it (common behavior), and then we teach others to “have the same experience” (even though what we are describing is based on wrong assumptions), we can assume that we are “teaching” well. For well over one hundred years, that is exactly where the professional has generally been with few exceptions.

Even very good singers with excellent track records, who know exactly what is going on in their throats and bodies when they are singing, do not necessarily understand that their subjective experiences are not universal, and therefore not directly transferable to anyone else who sings or wishes to sing. Further, people who teach others to “retract the false folds”, “constrict the aryepiglottic sphincter” and “put the larynx down and keep it there” are actually tying their students’ throats in knots, causing them to disconnect from free emotional expression which is only possible in a throat that is vital, alive and moveable.

If you understand what the body can do directly, what it does indirectly (in response to something you are thinking) and what the interface between those two things is, then you can work to effect a change, through exercises, over time, that produces different, authentic, consistent vocal behavior. If you do not understand these things, you will be less than effective, and possibly even harmful. If you don’t know how the vocal mechanism responds to pitch, vowel and volume (and to a certain extent also, to changes in vocal quality) you can waste a lot of time trying to sound the way you want (or the way your teacher wants).

Need help with that? Come to Shenandoah in July. (www.ccminstitute.com)

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2 thoughts on “No Method Makes Sense If It Violates The Body”

  1. Amen! I deal with a lot of bad technique over here (Sweden) from people who have bought into a “do this mechanical maneuver” or “do that squeeze” and I get their singers who have holes in their voices, they crackle and pop and think that they are stupid who don’t get it! It is so discouraging when you get them in that shape and so incredibly rewarding the first time they sing with their un-holey whole voice in a steady and personal tone that comes from their understanding of function and how to stay out of the way. The re-balancing work using your tools are awesome! Thank you Jeanie for writing this!!

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