Your True Voice
The most valuable vocal technical work I have done is with Campbell Dickson Titus, who introduced me to the broad all encompassing Italian Bel Canto technique. I worked with Dickson for 18 years. He was a loving, supportive Nag who would not let me get away with utilizing tension of any kind – he was constantly reminding me about my breathing (or non-breathing), and offering alternatives to my deeply imbedded pre-learned procedures. As a teacher I have challenged myself to embody Dickson’s positive, supportive, Nagging approach in my work with my students. I was also influenced in later years Dr. Clayne Robison, Professor of Voice at Brigham Young University, who created a DVD series called Beautiful Singing.
One statement that he made was that everybody can sing – every individual has a Voice, and when that voice is produced with free, unencumbered breathing, open, aligned and alert body (the singer’s instrument), the sound produced is unique, unlike any other voice, and Beautiful*. The auditor is moved – their creative force is ignited and new horizons are witnessed.
Find Your True Voice
Stand Up Straight – breathe through open throat silently – suspend the breath and then allow phonation to begin gently – ride the sound – do not push it. You are your instrument and it is necessary to allow a consistent, alert/relaxed alignment from the lower abdominal muscles to the soft palette. “Practice does make perfect” – if it feels good, it is good. Practice what feels good on a regular basis – daily – the repetition of process ensures that it becomes “automatic” – allowing the singer-artist to radiate their true, naked soul without self-judgment by the left brain. For me “beautiful” is defined as engaging, provocative and stimulating.
The Story Behind “Un-Singing Lessons”
As my work as a voice teacher has progressed over the past 10 years I have begun to notice that many of the technical issues that must be addressed with developing singers is the task of overcoming habits that I identify as “singing”. We all have the impression that there is something we must “do” in order to sing properly. We must create vibrato, we must make our sound brighter or darker, we must protrude our lips, or pull back our tongue to make the sound richer – the list goes on and on. What I am discovering is that our main task is to “set up” our instrument, - breathe freely, deeply, with our posture erect, larynx floating low, soft palette up, no tension – allow the sound to happen – do not “make” or “do” anything. We are sound machines – if we proceed in this manner, our unique voice will emerge – and it is this uniqueness that is compelling, to us, and to our audience. We must not “sing” – we must “un-sing”.