The Case: Trapped in a Genre

The Case: Trapped in a Genre

The Singer: Phyllis, 28 years old, an aspiring club singer.

Case Summary: Phyllis was going for auditions for various jobs including band and cabaret – but was unable to sing some genres with feeling. We have to step out of music altogether in order to find a way ahead.

A Harsh and Monotonous Voice

Phyllis arrived at class with a very strong and tuneful voice – some previous training for Musical Theatre and a large repertoire of ‘perfected’ numbers.

However, as soon as she sang anything in another genre – soul, gospel… her voice became harsh and monotonous – she lacked expression and depth as well as dynamic range.

She had learned one ‘mix’ for her voice and was trapped inside a sound that was limiting her opportunities as a singer.

A Shakespearian Solution

I began by facilitating an exploration of her speech tones – through reading of dramatic text.

We identified sounds that were connected to various feelings and because of her training, Phyllis was able to locate the breath and larynx sensations associated with these sounds – she got to know her voice again.

We had fun exploring laughter, tears, exasperation, anger, and a whole range of subtle sounds from childhood to adult expression in sounds, exclamations and speech.

Transferring this work to the song was easier than either of us expected it to be – Phyllis was very open to the whole process and this helped immensely.

Go Outside of the Song

Sometimes the answers to issues for the singer are not in the song.

Phyllis is well on the way to building a wider repertoire and continues to enjoy the exploration of her new mix.

Take Away
Remember it’s impossible to separate your ‘singing voice’ from the rest of you! A technique that encourages such an approach is lacking the vital depth that a singer requires when developing the voice! Make sure you are exploring more than simply how to hit the note!

-Rachel Bennett

Note: the names of singers in Rachel’s blog have been changed and, in many cases, represent composite situations.