Chrys Page, voice coach and author has kindly provided permission for us to place excerpts from volume 1 of the e-book A Voice For a Lifetime in 30 Days online! This provides YOU with a unique opportunity – read the articles or buy the ebook which comes complete with audio samples!
Some of the teachers I had in college, the “legit” teachers, (coined that because they advocated a classical or style of singing, like the singing heard in Opera Houses, and considered “legitimate” singing), used to make me push a grand piano around the studio as I was doing my vocal exercises. I didn’t understand the reason for this activity at the time, but did understand it years later when I studied with Professor Miller.
Those teachers were trying to strengthen my diaphragmatic muscle, which supports the voice, but what occurred instead was a tightening of my entire body, and this resulted in the ultimate “strangulation” of my voice, and is the reason I ultimately lost it altogether at 24. My early teachers had it only half right. Yes, the diaphragm is the vocal muscle and needs to be built up and strengthened, but the rest of the body, (the human instrument, remember?) needs to be relaxed so the sounds can travel freely through it.
See, students, the voice as an instrument, isn’t just the vocal cord, it’s the entire body, the chamber, which resonates or vibrates the sound and gives it its texture, tone quality, volume, and character. If your stomach muscles, chest, shoulders, legs, or any part of your body is tensed, then the tendency is to bring the sound up into the throat. What this does is choke off the flow of the sound through the body resulting in a “strangled” sound.
Imagine if someone was playing the trumpet and the sound was flowing out of the horn into the atmosphere, and all of a sudden, someone decided to walk up and stick a big rag into the bell of the trumpet, or pour syrup into one of the valve openings. Prolonged attempts to continue playing the trumpet at this point would only result in less and less actual sound being generated.
When the student of the voice “strangulates” his sound by tensing up muscles of the body that need to be relaxed, the same result occurs as with the trumpet player. Pretty soon, the harder the singer tries to create the sound, the weaker it gets and the harder it is to generate any sound.
So….before we do anything, let’s learn how to relax, okay?
At this point, let’s find a quiet spot where you can lie down on your back, knees slightly elevated. Take a few deep breaths into your belly. Good! Now read this guided meditation…
There’s a Song in Your Heart
( a guided meditation to relax the body and prepare it for singing)
Lying on your back, knees slightly elevated, take a deep, long breath in through your nose, hold it for a second…now blow out slowly through your mouth. This is how to breathe while we journey into a special place in our mind where the material world is created. Picture a place, real or imaginary, where you feel safe and nurtured. It can be a room in your house, a patch of your favorite beach, a mountain top…anywhere. Now see this place in your mind’s eye and go there now.
Now, as you let yourself be surrounded by the love and security of your special place in your mind, feel all the tension of your body release itself. Feel your arms and legs go limp with every exhale of breath. As you inhale, feel all the tension points of your body receiving the oxygen you have inhaled, and relax as you breathe out. Keep breathing deeply and slowly and know now that everything in your physical world started with an idea, and ideas are formed in the mind, fed by love emotions, and manifested in our life. (Breathe in….hold it….now out, slowly through the mouth..) Here in our quiet place, we can envision whatever we want. Here is where we plant seeds for our life, and students, we can be sure that whatever seeds we plant, they will be manifested in our lives. Just as the farmer plants corn and gets corn, not beans or tomatoes but corn, the seeds we plant here in our quiet place cannot help but come into our physical life, IF, we cultivate our seeds, feed them, water them and put them in the light. Here, we plant the thought, “there’s a song in my heart, and I shall let it sing through me into the world”.
(Breathe in….hold it…and slowly, ever so slowly, exhale through the mouth….good.)
Okay, students, repeat this little affirmation to your self as you continue to breathe slowly in and out, and as you dwell in the quiet safe space in your mind:
“I want to sing! I love to sing! I desire with all my heart to sing! And I know that Life would never give me the desire to do this without giving me also the ability to do it. I trust that with help and my own dedication, I cannot help but succeed. I will practice my singing the way a farmer tends his crops…with daily nourishment and with patience…and soon…the day is upon me when my voice spills out of me into the world with ease, with effortlessness, with strength and beauty that I never knew I could produce before. I am confident! I rest in the knowledge that it’s only a matter of time before the voice I envision here in my quiet place, is manifested. Conceive, Believe, Receive shall be my motto from now on.”
Repeat this affirmation until you feel totally relaxed. Now Students, slowly rise, and let’s get to work.