Introduction to Connecting Functional Voice Training, Somatic Education and Vital Singing…

Welcome to this blog’s new focus: Somatic Education, Functional Voice Training and Vital Singing…Connecting the Dots

In the latest issue of the Journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, vocal pedagogue Scott McCoy observes that often working on body awareness and alignment by various methods of Somatic Education does not necessarily translate to vital and free singing.

I happen to agree.

There is a trend over the past 15 years or so for Somatic education– Alexander Technique, Tai Chi, Feldenkrias, yoga, –(all of which I study, practice and value)–and other training modalities –to be promoted individually as a keystone for free and joyful singing.

And over the past 30 years, I have observed master classes and sessions where singers working with master somatic educators became physically aligned, relaxed and alert, yet as they started to sing, it became clear that concept and application to singing were disconnected.

Or, in the case of two singing colleagues who became certified Alexander Technique practitioners, their singing went from engaged and passionate to bland, boring and blah. But they were lined up and free alright.

Or in the case of the Alexander Technique teacher who loved to sing and asked to trade voice lessons for Alexander sessions–she became very uncomfortable when she started the process of registration development and the beginnings of support which are created as a result of healthy vocal fold closure.  She honestly thought she was not to feel anything internally as she sang.  She is on the list of AT certified practitioners here in Washington, DC.  Our barter did not last long.

I’ve thought about this a great deal and have come to the conclusion that the missing links between Somatic education and vital singing might be attributed to one or both of the following–

1)  The singer has not learned to sing with a functional vocal technique to begin with or

2) The somatic practitioner is not, or never was, an active and vital singer themselves. Conscious relaxation and engaged balance are necessary but counter intuitive to the internal motor sensations and healthy emotional engagement of being a vital singer.

So please join me on this blog as I cite case studies and processes involved in teaching the singers with whom I work.

Respectful debate and ideas always welcome.







1 Comment

  1. Right on Cate! I often tell my singers that the act of singing requires us to be relaxed AND energized. If everything is relaxed singing is not going to be very good. Likewise if there is no relaxation. While some muscles are contracting/working others are releasing/relaxing. This is what makes singing so challenging. It’s a balance. I find it helpful to identify if a singer naturally tends towards one or the other and then focus on the weaker link. Very interesting topic! I look forward to reading more!

    Liked by 1 person

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