A Self-Supporting Mechanism

It is generally recognised that healthy vocalisation demands a strong, flexible breathing system, but what tends to be overlooked is that muscular events that happen in the throat (both intrinsic and extrinsic to the larynx) influence how the breathing system itself operates. Many voices suffer from imbalance between these two main spheres of activity.

Just like the adverse effects of poor body alignment on emotional expression, muscular imbalance in the throat can lead to the perceived necessity to devise special breathing techniques (of support and control) which impede the natural coordination of the vocal system as a whole. This imbalance causes unnecessary muscular struggle. In other words the perceived need for support comes through imbalance between what should be mutually dependent and supportive spheres. If we can view the voice, and work with it, as a natural balance of forces we can avoid misplaced effort and instead realise and experience the voice (muscularly at least) as self-supporting. It follows that the more precise and efficient the work done within and around the larynx, the more precise and efficient will be the body’s response.

The intrinsic musculature of the larynx cannot be felt. Precision in this sphere is therefore, first and last, a matter of aural perception. So crucial is our ability to hear (both as singers and teachers) that, in discussing basic principles at the beginning of their book, Husler and Rodd-Marling advise teachers that,

Our first task, therefore, is to reawaken the sense of hearing, to revitalize and re-educate it, until it is able to hear the various physiological processes as they occur in the throat and organ of breathing. It is the starting-point for all work on the singing voice. (my italics)

Harrison, Peter T. Singing: Personal and performance values in training. Dunedin Academic Pr Ltd, 2014.


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