I have been singing all my life and I was not satisfied with my sound until I learned to use my whole body in my singing. Learning to get the analytical or technical mind out of the way was key to this and stop trying to learn by listening to what it sounded to me other singers were doing. In essence, I had to learn to stop doing something different when I was speaking than when I was singing. I always ‘knew’ what my singing potential was, but mostly felt like I could never get off the ground, let my voice soar when I was in front of others. I had unresolved emotional inhibitions (blocks) that having to sing in front of others made me deal with and work through. Singing is a wonderful path for personal development.
After I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York CIty, and I had already studied with a number of different voice teachers, I was introduced to Margaret Riddleberger, known by her students as ‘Mizzar’ (as in Ms. R). She died of cancer in the summer of 2009. She will be missed by many who she taught to use their voice in ways they might not have ever discovered otherwise.
A little history…
Around 1979, Mizzar began coming to New York City two days a week to work with actors and I was lucky enough to be able to get into her Studio. She had sung at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC along with having worked in the theatre and in Supper Clubs. She and her husband owned a theater called the Callaban in the Washington D.C. area. Holt was a theatre director who later in his career worked for PBS. She had studied singing with a woman who trained professional opera singers who taught her this physical/metaphysical approach to singing that came from the Bel Canto, a school of voice in Italy. Mizzar was a strong personality and a rare teacher. She had what it took to get through your protective mechanisms that prevented students from singing like nobody but themselves. When I finally began singing with my authentic voice, she was very encouraging that it was a unique and beautiful sound. I had not idea.
I have spent the past 35 years working with singers, helping them unlock the fear that is held as tension in the body that prevents them from using their expression system naturally and effortlessly. I have learned in all these years that no two singers are the same and that there are many variations in how we use our body to produce sound. And so I have learned to discover first who the student is. But the commonality among singers is that there is a vocal apparatus that works scientifically the same way for us all. Learning to use the body to produce sound is what I teach, what I can call ‘physiological singing’ or mindful singing. For me singing is a Path, and as you can see, it is for many people today.
Margaret transmitted the knowledge of singing from the physiological knowledge of the Bel Canto to me. I helped her take the art and combine it with physiology and anatomy so that we could show singers what happens when they move from speaking to singing, building a bridge between the two. You have to use the same sensory-motor skills in singing that are used when speaking; they are the same process. I teach the art of singing be demonstrating, as well as by helping you discover that singing and speaking are the same physiological event, essentially.
Science has shown us that we learn from direct experience primarily, not through language. The mirror neurons in your brain learn by observing, and we essentially become what we experience. My training and work as a singer and actor, as a psychotherapist, a martial artist, in neuro-psychology, meditation, and many other systems has all helped me develop simple ways to show you what your singing voice really is and how simple it is to use well.
I have also learned from other sources since and can now say that it is your spirit you can sing with, not just your body. Your voice is your Spirit made visible!
She made a big impact on my life.
She gave me permission to pass this work on, and encouraged me to get this into the therapy arena. We were friends and colleagues. When you work with someone for a couple of decades, family creeps in there as well. She was relieved when I found the book by Dr. Marifiotti of Italy when I was doing research at Lincoln Center of the Performing Arts Library. She had me purchase 10 copies and she passed them out in the Studio to her key students would have it as well in their libraries. She knew that I would take this to the therapy world because it is actually trauma, or unresolved fear held in our body, that prevents us from singing powerfully, effortlessly, and authentically. This is what I have spent my entire life learning all about as a singer and actor, as a body therapist, exercise physiologist, and as a psychotherapist as well as a voice specialist and teacher for singers and teachers alike.
I continue to be amazed at how people sing and I learn something from everyone. I know the courage that it takes to stand up in front of audience and sing your heart out. I respect every singer and am committed to supporting you to go to a level of mastery in your use of your authentic, God given, authentic voice. I can help you uncover it.
Singing and speaking are different from each other, right?
After I began to see the difference between what I thought singing was and what it really is, I quickly realized that personality stress, tension in the body, and lack of a kinesthetic, sensory embodiment of the expression system is what prevents us from discovering our natural power and resonance. Singing is natural for a human unless you have some block, some unresolved issue(s) that prevents you from using your will power to sing. This lead me to be trained in anatomy, physiology, physics, and massage therapy in NYC and eventually to be trained and certified in an advanced body approach called the Rolfing® Method of Structural Integration. Later I was introduced to Oscar Ichazo’s Chua Ka™ Bodywork which advanced my understanding of what happens in the body when fear is accumulated. My studies of T’ai Chi and mediation have played an important role in filling out my education as a teacher of voice because we are not just a body but spirit as well.
For twenty plus years I was a ‘go to guy’ in N.Y.City for singers/actors/dancers who needed help in unlocking their bodies to free their voice. Margaret strongly insisted that all her students come to me. I worked with her NYC students for a couple of decades, as well as all her Washington, D.C. singers. This opened up my career in helping singers unlock their bodies from the tension that they had acquired over the course of their life- and didn’t know they had. When we carry tension/fear in our body, our brain will eventually become anesthetized as all muscles have connections in the brain. So although we feel as though everything is fine, we are unable to tap into the deeper, core levels of our body which is where authentic singing comes from.
On top of my acting and singing work, I developed and performed a one-man show in New York City entitled, “Love, Desire, and Growing Pains” and this was my vehicle for using all that I had learned in my singing studies. I performed this show over the course of five years.
I left New York City in 2002 and am now living and working in the Boulder/Denver, Colorado area. I am also a trained psychotherapist and work with the effects of trauma and show folks how to resolve it. Trauma is ultimately a potential learning experience, though frozen in time within us until we resolve and integrate it into our life, and potentially improving our resilience in life. Stress, tension, trauma, or fear, whatever word we use, has the effect of placing the small muscles of respiration, the singers muscles or movement muscles, or also called the muscles of initiation, into flexion (short and tight) and this is precisely when we lose our natural ability to sing in our own voice with its unique qualities and resonance. We lose our adaptability and our spirit is inhibited. This all happens at a subconscious or instinctual level.
I love singing and I love passing this knowledge on to those who wish to perform for live audiences. There is a joy in learning how to access your natural singing power and resonance without ever harming your throat. It is essentially body re-habilitation and re-conditioning and the discovery that your singing voice makes its foundation in the speaking voice with this simple formula:
“minimum tension in the throat
plus minimum breath
produces maximum resonance” ™
David Delaney, M.A., C.A.R., L.P.C.
Annual workshops in Manhattan & elsewhere