The Elusive “Security” of Vocal Technique

The physical sensations we seek when singing serve as props, something to grasp so that we feel something concrete we can depend upon. We may then feel that we can ‘produce the goods’ without faltering. These props, however, take the form of tensions and exaggerated movements that limit our voice’s flexibility and range of musical and emotional expression (thus rendering spontaneous music-making practically impossible). They tend to become more imperative and less effective as the years, sometimes not many, go by or as the weight of professional work increases. Eventually, either the voice breaks down, or another ‘more helpful’ sensation or prop is sought. Such measures are usually referred to as ‘techniques’. Designed to enable the singer to perform in spite of the vocal problems or inadequacies that might otherwise undermine his confidence, they are invariably deliberate physical manoeuvres. Techniques are, at best, a bit of a lottery. The only person who really knows if a technique ‘works’ is the one who’s gaining satisfaction from it. To have the same feeling experience, we would have to share the same body.

Harrison, Peter T. The human nature of the singing voice: exploring a holistic basis for sound teaching and learning. Dunedin Academic Pr Ltd, 2006.