The Case of the Disappearing Vocal Power

Probe with Rachel BennettMartina was auditioning for agents and sending demos ‘out there’ but was getting no positive feedback.

She knew she could write and she had a voice so Martina was puzzled as to why the response to all of her demos was so poor.

Your Blueprint Isn’t Always The Right One

Martina had been advised that her voice was ‘very notable but predictable’ by one potential manager.

Another industry invite had suggested that she had ‘a definite sound but that she had bad habits’

Losing Power

When Martina sang to me in her first session, I heard passion, truth and some great ideas that were well arranged.

However her every phrase ended on a thin and breathy vibrato and after a little work, it became apparent that she was unable to control it – it wasn’t even a stylistic choice

We Need to Agree to Change Before It Can Happen

The first thing I did was to record Martina and we listened back together; I asked her to make a dot on a page every time she heard a disappearing note.

Once we listened back a couple of times, she was genuinely shocked to realise that her habit was so marked.

Her musical ability was at a level where she could appreciate the effect of this on the listener

So I had a client who was ready to change!

Squeeze the Knees!

I had to work on Martina’s core support muscles (pelvic floor) but in a way that she could access when playing guitar and singing.

So we placed a cushion between her knees and she breathed out on a gentle squeeze several times until she identified the flex in her deeper pelvic floor muscles

She then sang some scales on this squeeze and immediately felt the length and strength of the tones increase.

We explored various types of pressure and sound (staccato and legato) so that Martina could realise the effects of the support on various aspects of her songs such as dynamic and interval shifts as well as the sustaining of sound

Martina was quickly able to apply this action to the word and phrase endings of her material and a whole new world of ‘playing with sound’ opened up for her.

Getting Rid of the Cushion

Clearly a singer can’t arrive on stage with a cushion between their knees.

I sent Martina off with a knee squeeze exercise programme that included breath counts and scales games and gradually she was able to call upon her pelvic / core muscles to engage when she wanted them to.

She always makes sure now that when she performs, her chair is comfortable and that she has done her exercises prior to performance

It is vital to grasp the importance of supporting muscle groups when singing and to learn to understand your ‘singer’s anatomy’ in order to develop and maintain a beautiful sound to match your gifts as a songwriter.

Sometimes when we are caught up in the cerebral activity of song-writing, we forget about the vessel that carries the song!