The Basics of Somatic Voicework™ The Lo Vetri Method

The basic principles of vocal function in The LoVetri Method, Somatic Voicework™ are very simple. They are: isolation, development and combination of chest and head registers to create a balanced mix, undistorted vowels, and strong, aligned posture which facilitates deep and easy inhalation and exhalation. If you learned and understood only this about vocal production, and you applied these principles to a wide range of pitches and volumes, and added consonants, you wouldn’t need anything else to become a good vocal technician.

If you do not understand register function as an auditory phenomenon, and you do not understand that this is a vocal fold behavior as well, you can waste a lot of time on “resonance” (something you can’t control until you have a good deal of skill and power), and you can confuse vocal quality with vowel sound quality (a very bad mistake) which will make you spin your heels. If you believe that everything comes from the breathing, then you can waste a lot of time, years or maybe even decades, developing your ability to breath, but if you do not also work on your sound, all you will get from doing this is to be a really excellent breather. I have some of those folks show up in my studio. One man had worked on breathing for 12 years with his previous teacher and had made little progress. He got better working with me in about 4 sessions by strengthening his chest register, something he had never heard of.

If you have been taught that everything is “placement” and “breath support” and that breathing has something to do with inhaling into the diaphragm, (and who hasn’t been taught those things?) you can spend much much too long trying to get a person’s sound to improve, develop, grow, adjust or change to no avail.

If you can get a good strong undistorted unmanipulated free open /a/ (as in Father) on a low note at a loud vowel, you can assume that you have a healthy chest register response. If you can get a clear, light, easy undistorted /u/ (true) on a high pitch at a moderate to loud volume, you can assume that you have access to a healthy head register function (doesn’t mean you can sing a whole song there, however). If you can sing an /e/ or an /ae/ on a middle pitch at moderate volume, you probably have some kind of balance or mix. Probably is the operating word.

You have to know what kind of sound is good in order to get it. You have to know what you want before you open your mouth and you have to know that you are going to get that sound before you try to make it. Being able to do that, on demand, every time, is having “secure vocal technique”. If you do not know what “good” sounds like, especially in yourself, you have to learn. If you do not know what comfortable is, you have to learn that too. If you do not have control over all the dimensions of your voice (pitch, vowel, volume, consonants, duration, pressure (volume) and vibrato (some/none)), you don’t really have “vocal technique” at all, you just sing however you do.

The purpose of training the voice is to give you skills you wouldn’t have if you didn’t seek them. That includes expanding your range both up and down, expanding your dynamic expression (both louder and softer), being able to lengthen the time you can easily exhale during a sustained phrase, and being able to control the volume while you extend it, up to and including getting louder at the end or when you go up or both. You need to feel that you are singing easily and freely and that the sound responds well and that you can feel emotional while singing and that the emotion is reflected in the sound without you having to “make it emotional”. You need to be able to go very quickly or very slowly without issue. You need to be able to sing in a variety of tone qualities and colors in order to be effective in various contrasting styles. You need to look and feel congruent with the words and music while you sing. Trying to control your diaphragm isn’t going to help you do any of these things.

Somatic Voicework™ is functional training based on practical application, one person at a time. Everyone is the same and everyone is different. All voices are unique and all people are distinctively themselves but everyone has two vocal folds and a larynx, a pair of lungs, ribs and abdominal muscles. Vocal function is the same for any human being but vocal output is unique to the person, the age, the background, the training, the music, the interests and many other things.

There are a lot of people out there calling themselves singers who have no clue about the above. Some of these people also teach. (Unfortunately.) If you do not understand what I have written here, and you either sing or teach, you have, in my opinion, a moral obligation to learn about these things.

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2 thoughts on “The Basics of Somatic Voicework™ The Lo Vetri Method”

  1. Dear Jeannette,

    I’m really impressed by your competence in the subject “voice and vocal techniques”.
    You are the first person that really catches my attention as an adequate educator in this field!
    I have been teaching and exploring the voice 16 years now….No one so far hasn’t been able to explain the details you are talking about in such clear and simple way.Most of the vocal coaches are just doing the so called “warm ups” in a fast tempo without interupting for corrections.Then ask the student to sing a song that many times it’s not appropriate for starters. There would be some comments about how they needs to breath from the diaphragm. Actually because of the restrictions concerning inappropriate touching between students and teachers, the coach never shows to the student the exact area they need to fill with air as well as how vibrato,pitch accuracy and dynamics could be controlled by the action of the abdominal muscles,which also control the speed of exhaling.I understand every little detail you are talking about and totally agree with it.There is one statement that I would question and maybe disagree with; in relation to what you said about how each voice is unique,I think,many singers learn how to sing just by listening and imitating other singers without knowing anything about the techniques you and me are talking about and some of them are absolutely amazing in using their voice in the most appropriate and amusing way…It seems they know everything but really-they are just wicked gifted!I have had students that will come on a first lesson and sing easily songs in different styles with a taste, dynamics,posture,using tone colors and techniques of blending from chest to head voice, wonderful expression,projection and excellent musical intonation with the confidence of a professional performer….So, I would be puzzled what exactly I should be teaching them, knowing that they just have it and anything I try to add might actually ruin their natural sound…so, I’m convinced that the century we live in creates smarter and extraordinary kids,who have an access to sources that if a talent and passion are in one body, they have no need to be trained vocally.Sad for us,the teachers- but in the real world very true.But for those,who are not prodigies, we are still so much needed by any means :))Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    Best,
    Elena Koleva- jazz singer/voice/piano teacher
    http://www.myspace.com/elenakoleva

  2. I’ve been doing Hanna somatic exercises. Recently I noticed my humming was more tuneful and my singing sounded good.
    Googling “somatic singing” brought
    me to your post.
    I’d be interested in how you developed the method of voice work.

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