VOCAL ADVANTAGE: ALLOWING DEVELOPMENT, by Dina Else (no. 25 in a series)
In working with middle and high school students I focus my singers on the concept of ‘allowing’ the voice to develop, versus ‘creating’ or ‘manipulating’ development of their instrument. In regard to tone we work on opening up the pharyngeal space, stabilizing the larynx, and understanding how all of the ‘pieces of the puzzle’ work together to allow a beautiful tone to develop. When I studied with Barbara Honn she used to encourage me not to push the air at the voice and not grab the voice with anything, but instead to allow the air to become the voice. I encourage my students to do the same. The air reaches the vocal folds and is transformed to a new form of energy called sound.
Carol Webber, another voice teacher I highly respect, approaches tone through searching out her students ‘truest sound’, the sound where the resonance is automatically the best. That’s where she begins her work in developing that singer’s voice. She feels that this allows the voices under her tutelage to have the subtle timbral differences that make each singer unique.
In A Spectrum of Voices, (as you have probably surmised by now if you are a regular to this column, this is one of my favorite resources!) Helen Hodam shares that for the beginners, she mainly talks about “what to do with the breath once it starts” and focuses in on that feeling of breath connection to the tone. She says “I do use the word “focus” but I explain that “placement” could be erroneous because you don’t “place” anything. I do emphasize that they shouldn’t worry about or think about vibrato, but rather should feel vibration—that’s so important.”