Speaking and singing are two activities unique to the human being, by means of which people can channel their deepest need for expression and communication.
This is why approaching the voice consciously also means making contact with oneself on several levels: singing and speaking are activities carried out in relation to the whole structure of a person, on the physical-psychological, psychical, and emotional levels.
But apart from this surprising (and mostly unexpected) ‘second level’, approaching the voice allows us in the short term to fully develop the potential of our voice (and so, also of our whole being), with all the pleasure and physical-psychological well-being this leads to.
It needs to be understood that often, when we sing or speak, it is we ourselves who make using our voice more difficult and less satisfying. This can lead us to believing that ‘we’re just not cut out for singing’, that ‘we just haven’t got a good speaking voice’, or that vocal discomfort and hoarseness are inevitable for anyone, whether through singing or speaking, makes intense use of their voice.
When beforehand we unconsciously activate a series of tensions in our organism, we are actually limiting it: the gift of an easily accessible, productive voice is in actual fact a natural part of our deepest being.
Knowing this, it is important for voice training not become just more manipulation and more checks; rather, it should become a path to ‘cleansing’ the superfluous tensions that ‘mask’ our real voice, and thus tire it out. These tensions distance us from the intelligence within our body and are an obstacle to its physiological organisation. This, along with our own nature, is what enables us to speak and sing with ease, producing sounds that are crystal clear and powerful, with no strain to our vocal organs.
Singing has always accompanied humankind: through it, we express our creative and vital essence; we are moved by it, moving others in our turn, projecting the emotions it produces through space, while coming into deeper touch with ourselves and others.
In actual fact, human beings expressed themselves through song long before they managed to organise precise sounds in the shape of language. This type of expression has accompanied us throughout our history, in every culture and tradition, as the coming together of the components of one’s physical and spiritual being.
It has only been in recent times, when our daily lives have been so filled up with noise, that we have begun to lose the capacity to listen (internally and externally, to ourselves and to others), so that the tendency has arisen to give less importance to our need for expression. In this way, our voices no longer issue spontaneously from our throats. This leads to us forgetting (or indeed ‘doing without’) this basic dimension of our essence as human beings which, instead, if developed in harmony with our physiological needs as an organism, can not only become a channel of expression and self-affirmation, but also a spur to well-being and the recharging of our energy.
Whatever the style, singing is singing and the voice works in only one way, which cannot be changed no matter what the musical style is. This is like saying that we change our legs depending on the type of activity we’re doing. In actual fact, what changes is the parameters with which we use them!
Something similar happens with the different kinds singing styles: the workings of the voice do not change, but certain parameters that arise from theses workings come into play, and I have to know how to manage them. This is all that is meant by using one’s voice with awareness.
We all have our own personal tastes in music. Sometimes, however, our tastes can be the result of a limitation, in the sense that they are all that we know. Therefore, it is wonderful when a course of study enables us to discover new styles that may not initially have attracted us, but that then reveal themselves to us as unexpectedly satisfying and exciting.
For that again, it is also true that by training our voice, one day we will understand that we are quite capable of interpreting music we did not think lay within our vocal capabilities. This too is a wonderful discovery!
My personal background is classical, with a special focus on medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, as well as chamber and contemporary music. Over the last 15 years, however, I have explored (also professionally) jazz, musicals, ethnic music, and improvisation. Consequently, I am in a position to offer my students an extremely wide-ranging selection of styles and genres from which to choose.
As a work ‘instrument’ for many professionals such as teachers and speakers of all sorts, including jurists, the same applies here as the principles outlined above: if the voice is not resonant, if it produces tiredness, or frequently gets hoarse, it’s not because you don’t have a ‘good voice’, but rather because you don’t know how to use it properly.