Breathing For Singing and Noticing First

When I first started taking voice lessons, no one brought up the subject of breathing.  Which maybe in my case wasn’t absolutely necessary, to be fair.  I was a saxophone player, and I knew how to move air.  Over time I learned how inefficient breathing (while singing) can create a host of symptoms at the level of the larynx and above.  And often, if I can help a singer learn to use airflow and air pressure in new ways they naturally relax their head, neck and jaw areas.  Breathing is a core skill and practical issue for efficient singing, and I now believe it is often one of the most overlooked issues in commercial singing instruction.  (I’ll discuss the different ways sound is produced, and why good air flow will save your voice in a future post.)

I get it, y’all.  Breathing and support in singing is a highly complex bodily function, and we don’t want to mess with it if it’s working well.  I don’t want to reinvent the wheel when working with a singer who’s instrument is highly functional.  I am not teaching people to sing most of the time, just giving them some technique to under-gird what already works well.  Teaching breath control and support can really screw someone up if you don’t know what you’re doing.  Maybe that’s why a lot of teachers shy away from the subject.  I just want to offer some ideas about how to begin broaching the subject of “support.”  How and what you teach after that is something we need to keep discussing over and over and over in professional voice pedagogy circles.

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Giving It All Away

We are in a time where the way we do business and exchange information is shifting rapidly.  Author Seth Godin says we are no longer in an industrial economy, we are now in a “connection economy” because of the internet.  This means that instead of large corporations marketing to large portions of the population, small companies and even individuals are marketing to small, dedicated groups of people who trust, love and support what they are selling or stand for.  We are now able to share our talents and voice (go figure, voice) with the world without anyone’s permission.  You don’t have to wait around for Penguin Publishing to okay your blog post, you can start sharing with your fellow human beings today.

What I’ve noticed about the connection economy is how people are having to shift from the mentality of guarding their knowledge into the mentality of sharing what they know freely and very publicly.  This is a brave new world.  And if you are in my generation or older, you have probably spent a few sleepless nights wondering if this is such a good idea.  Give this information away.  Really?  “There is no good that can come from that,” says the fearful ego.  It goes on: “I have spent thousands of dollars and years of my life acquiring this information and skill set!  I can’t just give it away for free!”

Yes.  You.  Can.

And I have a list of reasons why giving it all away is good for you and those around you.

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What is Vocology, Exactly?

 The word vocology comes from pairing the latin “voco” meaning voice or speech with “ology” meaning the study of, or science of.  So, vocology is to voice what audiology is to hearing.  The person who coined the term is Dr. Ingo Titze of the National Center for Voice and Speech in Salt Lake City, UT.  I have a soon-to-be-published video interview with Dr. Titze where he says he was the one, THE guy, who coined the term.  It is no secret that Dr. Titze is one of the foremost experts in the world in voice science, as well as one of the kindest human beings you’ll ever meet, but to be the one who founded language to describe a whole field of study . . . just wow.

The reason I’m interested in the field of vocology is because I enjoy the how and why of life.

I’d like to know what happens physically when we sing, and how the brain responds to sound.  Things like that.

My nature is to dig for deeper answers in areas like psychology and voice, as well as a few other subjects.  Of course, knowing all the how and why will never get accomplished in any “ology.”

What’s amazing to me is that we are living in a time where a LOT of the answers to voice questions are bubbling to the surface and being twittered and tweeted about between voice geeks and gurus across the globe.  The voice is utterly and miraculously complex!  We will never fully comprehend it’s beauty and interconnectedness with our psyche and God, let alone the mechanics that make it function.

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