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  • juliehamula

Don't Lose the Forest through the Trees

I remember a fascinating person- let's call him "Ed" for the sake of my story. Ed literally knew everything there was to know about the vocal mechanism. He was, what you call, an opera "super-fan" and made it his life's work to investigate the principles by which these phenomenal sounds emerge from the human voice.

On any given day, "Ed" could curate a recording of a singer deconstructing all the how's and methods that were used during a particular phrase. On one such occasion, Ed came backstage after a performance of mine and very excitedly explained how I was engaging this particular muscle group to make this great sound, and how then I would shift my resonance "here" by doing x,y, and z. I could see the excitement in his face as he asked- "What is the process by which you execute such technical maneuvers and still stay involved in the acting?" Very much wanting to please, I affirmed many of the observations he made, but when I explained that these things were happening as a result, not as a direct manipulation, he seemed disheartened. You see, Ed firmly believed that by manipulating each muscle just so, a fantastic sound could come about. I asked Ed, "Do you think about each muscles contraction and release when walking? Can you feel each change in muscle activity in order to manipulate your gait? Or, do you just "walk"?"

He understood what I meant immediately, and we had a wonderful conversation on how separating parts from a whole almost always results in uncoordinated singing.

While most of you reading this probably know that singing is a holistic act... it is very easy to lose sight of the forest through the trees.

Fixing a problem with the jaw.

Stabilizing the larynx.

"Feeling" the placement of the voice.

Any of these technical things can cause us to come out of our balance by fixation. We need to provide context for each technical solution that we are trying to achieve.

In fixing any problem, I always ask a 3-pronged question of myself.

  1. How does it FEEL?

  2. How does it LOOK?

  3. and, most importantly..... How does it SOUND?

(I highly suggest you record to answer that last one)

Keeping an eye and ear on balance with these three elements will help you make the most of your technical work and prevent you from losing sight of the big picture which is: To Sing Better


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