The Singer: Maria, 23 years old, an actress/singer
Case Summary: Maria had graduated from a two year course at a performing arts school where there was no focus on 1:1 vocal training; she wanted to find power in her voice for upcoming auditions.
A Timid Sound
I noted that Maria had a soft speaking voice and decided to start with an area that I assumed would be one where she could demonstrate confidence or knowledge.
Though she had developed acting techniques, she seemed unable to produce power without ‘shouting’.
Her neck craned forward in speech and song – clearly this aspect had been ignored in her training! We had limited time to establish some anchoring muscles.
Adding Weight to the Voice
After warming up, I asked Maria to lean in against a chair back and move between speech and song.
We repeated phrases in speech and moved them to melody lines.
I developed this by asking Maria to hold up two wooden chairs – one on each arm and we repeated the above exercises.
I placed small weighted objects onto the chair seats and with the extra weight again repeated the exercise.
Maria began to feel her muscles engage on the production of sound. She reported feeling empowered by this experience.
Where Does Vocal Power Come From?
Maria and I talked about the real potential for power in the human voice.
I suggested that she do some thinking about her ‘need to be quiet’ – I have found it often masks a need for a little more control over situations.
But not wishing to get lost in this analysis, I also suggested Maria spend a little time by herself thinking about times when she had found volume.
Finding a powerful voice is, in a sense, finding oneself. For Maria there were two pieces. The first was to stop ‘craning’, to cease stretching her head and neck forward when she was singing. The second piece was just as important: to know herself and understand when the psychological feeling of ‘power’ had been lost and gained in her life – and to apply this insight to her singing.
Note: the names of singers in Rachel’s blog have been changed and, in many cases, represent composite situations.