Saturday, December 5, 2009

Case studies: Stephanie, Part 2: Feelings of resonance

In my last posting, I began to describe the case of Stephanie, a near-retirement age singer who had been told she had a faulty ear.

After clearing up Stephanie's breathing issues, we moved on to the feeling of "drinking in" the breath as a balancing concept to the "putting it forward" or "placement" method she had been taught. In Stephanie's case, there was no lift of the palate to balance the feelings of resonance in the forward direction. As she ascended into the passagio area, she simply did not have enough space in the throat for the pitch to resonate properly. Her intention was to sing in tune: but as long as the interior space did not match the pitch of the fundamental, with a space exactly appropriate to the pitch intended, she was out of tune.

The feeling of "drinking in the breath" allows the palate to lift appropriately, while the singer maintains the feeling of speech in the area just in front of the mouth. I also taught Stephanie what I call "turning the breath", which means a deeper feeling of drinking in as you ascend the scale. This aids continuing increase in the lift of the palate. The third crucial element for her was to learn that the voice feels "higher" in the "resonance" (the frontal area of the face) as you ascend the scale. This is something so natural, that many people do not have to be taught it; after all, the higher notes are called "head" voice for a reason: it is because the singer feels these pitches more in the area of the head, as she ascends the scale.

My scientific training tells me that this idea of resonance in the frontal area of the face is not a physiological truth. It has been proven that this area in no way contributes to the production of the sound. The singer, however, guides events on the vocal fold level with precisely this feeling of resonance. For that reason, it is crucially important to good singing.
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