The Case of the One-Dimensional Voice

The Case: The one-dimensional voice

The Singer: Lianna, 25 years of age, working as a legal PA and doing open mic slots on the London circuit

For you? Do you ever find you want to more effectively make the sounds that you hear in your head?

Case Summary:
Lianna was getting great feedback about her potential but wanted to develop her expression as she found that her voice always sounded ‘the same’.

Tapping into the right source
Lianna was frustrated that her delivery of songs was at ‘one level’, no matter what material she sang; she was often told she had great potential as a singer but didn’t know how to express her feelings more deeply in performance.

I established that Lianna had a very good ear and a wide range, reaching a high ‘f’ in her chest mix with ease!

However her timbral expression was very ‘sweet’ and light and simply remained in this place throughout.

Lianna was a very intelligent and adventurous young woman with a high-powered job that required imagination so I decided to tap into this aspect of her personality.

An actor’s prop
I decided that I would work with Lianna as if she were an acting student and I discussed my plan with her; she was open to trying it out.

Lianna sat with eyes closed on an upright chair and I handed her an object (in this case initially a silk scarf); she explored its properties and I asked her to list these; she found descriptive language easily.

I asked her to sing through parts of the song whilst exploring the weight, textures and associations of the object; initially she struggled as she was busy valuing her response instead of ‘playing the game’.

I explained again the importance of freeing herself from marks out of ten and we resumed; Lianna’s voice came alive; through a series of short three minute spurts, she opened up and began to play with shapes and areas of her voice she hadn’t tapped before.

She stretched out her phrasing and played with conversational lyric; I changed the prop twice in half an hour.

A rewarding smile!
Lianna was beaming from ear to ear when she finished; she got it!

We approached a verse and chorus of a song without the prop and she had already retained a vastly increased array of sounds.

It’s important that the singer finds expression through their associations with the song meaning and melody, but sometimes a way in is needed before they can begin to know what sounds they have in their repertoire.

Most singers will make the transference from affected expression to real ‘in the moment’ response to the music; this is a natural progression but one that the teacher should ensure is happening.

Lianna is visiting for further sessions to increase her technique so that she can support her newfound voice safely and approach her library of sounds with integrity.

-Rachel Bennett