For most singers, finding their voice is an unlearning process. Quite often, a person has developed habits that have been overplayed on their natural voice. We acquire these habits from parents, the world we grew up in, and patterns that we pick up in the process of adapting in the world. Since expressing ourselves is a function of relating with other humans and taking our space in the world, and since we are complex creatures, there are defenses, or unconscious habits, that we acquire that limit our full spectrum of expression. Defenses protect fears that have been absorbed at an early time in childhood. It is actually a normal process of development in a complex and intense society that have consequences that affect our vocal apparatus which is related to our heart center or our emotional center.
This is why, if you pay attention, each person has speech patterns that are unique to them. More than regionalisms, these patterns are part of their ‘set’, the body’s ‘in the flesh’ memory patterns that tell of injuries, accidents, blocked emotions, stuck thought patterns, fears, and traumatic stress events that change the flow of speech and reshape how the voice is produced. It is part of our personality and we don’t want to take it all away. But for some people, they have achieved a threshold of acquired personality pressure, which changes the shape of the vocal apparatus and how that sound is produced when they speak or sing, and so these folks need assistance in releasing a degree of this acquire fear. This is in order to reduce a degree of tension that interferes with the free flow of air in the throat and speech centers in the mouth and cranium.
Since relaxation is the hallmark of singing, and speaking and singing are essentially the same process, any holding past a certain threshold can interfere with how the voice is generated and thus constrain the necessary acoustic properties of the person’s voice in relation to the environment. This is the work that I have done from 1983 onward in New York City up to today. I worked with hundreds of singers who had some degree of tension that they were unaware of consciously, that they had acquired in the course of their life, and I was able to help a large degree of them achieve improvement in their singing and speaking voice. Our bodies are amazingly plastic, much like our brains having a large degree of neuro-plasticity, and are thus capable of re-normalizing back toward our natural physical pattern that Nature provided us with at birth.
As we are socialized, our bodies, which are also our psyches, which we cannot separate them expect in our minds, go through a process of change or a shortening and twisting in order to keep us functional. As a person matures, those of us who make it our work can see subtle changes in their physical structure, causing a general shortening and twisting in the joints that is an accommodation to gravity and the force it exerts on us all of us, constantly and according to the laws of physics.
So helping a singer regain their original pattern is an interesting process of assisting them to learn to release acquired fear and tension as well as other effects that have had a impact on their body, their instrument. My work as a Certified Rolfer® from 1985 was central to my ability to bring a body back from the negative changes that have a depreciating impact on that singers vocal ease and efficiency. And my own long and dedicated training and work as a singer was key to my effectiveness in helping other singers achieve vocal ease with resonant power in their singing. To sing naturally, we want minimum force and tension in the throat and body, and an ability for the body to lengthen easily and constantly while using our speech center in a completely relaxed and natural manner, just like when we speak.
Further training in body and mind approaches and my training and work as a psychotherapist have helped me streamline my effectiveness in working with singers to the point where I can get them to jump quickly to a higher use in their vocal process so that they sing better, quickly. In a sense, my job it to improve their vocal ease, so that their work with their teachers, coaches, or on-stage transforms noticeably. Releasing unconscious holding pattern in the body is key to this process, as well as developing the small muscles of respiration which are central to singing well. I have a large toolkit that I have gathered in the 40 or so years that I have been developing as a singer’s therapist and trainer.
Call me today to discuss how I might assist you in transforming your singing, to being able to sing like nobody but yourself.
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