Could this pioneering study help or hinder your breathing patterns?
Item: If In Doubt, Breathe Out by Ron Morris and Linda Hutchison, published by Compton Publishing.
Mic rating: 4/5
At a glance: This book is the first, and only study into ‘breathing and support based on the Accent Method’. Both authors are internationally renowned in their fields of speech pathology and vocal coaching. They experimented on a group of voice students and concluded that there are benefits to integrating Accent Method principles into daily voice training.
High notes: The second half of the book is clearly laid out, with photos to aid the understanding of the exercises. They even provide you with the exact 10 week lesson plan that they used during the study. The step by step approach makes the content instantly applicable and useful.
Off pitch: They could do with clarifying from the outset that the exercises detailed in this book are for practice purposes and are not performance tools. This book is designed for classical singers, not CCM (commercial contemporary music) singers, but this isn’t abundantly clear, making it very possible for the study to be taken out of context.
Review: In order to really understand why and how the Accent Method assists the physiology of the body during singing, one would have to attend a course or read further into the subject. But, this is a great place to start for singers wishing to get their heads around physiological theory, or get stuck in with tangible technique drills. The exercises in this book could be useful for pop and rock singers, but we must first take into consideration that the respiratory demands of classical vs. pop singing is very different. It’s an honourable and important piece of research, considering that so many singers squabble about ‘correct’ breathing techniques. However, the pool of participants was too small to make any definite claims for all singers. The most commonly used singing styles (CCM) are still being neglected by the academic world, so it would be extremely interesting to see the same study replicated with students of popular music. There is certainly a gap in the academic market!