Ideas and Resources
This little page is for thoughts about human strength and evolution, health and happiness. It is my deep feeling that a clear, bright, open, expressive, and strong singing voice is a natural part of our human inheritance. This may seem a presumptuous or exaggerated statement, but any mother or schoolteacher knows how piercing can be the screams of an infant or the cries of a delighted child at play, how great the capacity for the spontaneous vocal emissions of those little bodies to rattle a silence or carry over a great distance. Singing is, in its essence, vibrant health. Then comes life with its manifold issues if not trauma (if not also and ideally the potential for consequent learning in the wake of misfortune great and small) brought about by accidents, culture, family, institution, that can dismember a voice by damaging the connection to healthy breathing, unselfconscious self-expression, and many other more subtle faculties of movement, thought, and the body’s ability to bear weight. How lucky we are to live in a culture that affords us the study of voice as a form of art, as well as a growing palate of methods and techniques for healing and refining our function and connection to life and art.
* * *
One's voice is all but inseparable from the person as a whole. The voice is a mirror (even when we don't want it to be) of one's condition of being, at once physical, mental, and spiritual, among others. Translated from speech to singing, especially "lyric" or operatic singing, this mirror greatly magnifies our inconsistencies, tensions, and imbalances. Fortunately, the human voice is also the most immediate and innate of instruments, such that when it is well used, the capacity for import, expressiveness, and awakening is also magnified many times over. To wake up the voice is to enliven the person and their ability to lead, take responsibility for what they say (or offer to the world in song), and to refine and tune the connections between emotion, reason, expression, and physical action. These are critical connections not only for individuals, but also for a society to have in its constituent members.
As a voice teacher, it is my primary if also obvious job to offer my students exercises through which to nourish and strengthen the vocal chords, coordinate and control breath in relation to precise muscular actions of the mouth and throat, help them to refine tongue and jaw movements, produce clear and free high notes, sing coloratura and fast passages as though it were effortless, and so on many times. But many if not most of the actions of singing are bound up with multiple and involuntary actions which activate habits and patterns both ideal and not, and that is why it is so crucial work in parallel on the quality of movement and being in the broader sense. I find it saves a lot of time and energy, and improves not only the singing voice, but the quality of life of the singer along with it.