Fear, Control, and “Technique”

We’ve already said that vocal function is an athletic event, in essence a physical act of coordination than an intellectually attained and cerebrally oriented achievement – the voice emerges by itself when interferences and inhibitions are removed – then we begin to see the simplicity of the vocal event in all its glory.

Once we realize that the mind, intending communication, sets the body into motion, the vocal event loses its mystery, and with the mystery, its power to terrorize and paralyze.

If there’s nothing to be achieved through arduous intellectualization and retained through technical practice, then there’s nothing to be lost, and our basic fears around the voice can be put to rest.

What is it we fear most in performance? That the voice will desert us, prove unfaithful or unpredictable, that we’ll not know what is going to come out, or if anything is going to come out at all. This is of greater importance for the singer than for the speaker, since music demands that the singer be there when he is supposed to be; the speaker can always hide behind the “dramatic pause”; but the singer who misses the downbeat through vocal failure, can’t hope to regain his equilibrium, no matter how well he may finish.

Unpredictability is our greatest fear about the voice, whether we’re aware of it or not, and all other fears flow from it and pale in significance in comparison. If I fear for the very existence of my voice, nothing else can be as important.

One of the reasons vocal technique is so popular is that it’s designed to avoid this problem by putting the voice into a strait jacket from which it won’t escape. An all-too-common response to fear is control, and if I can learn through control to eliminate any possibility of spontaneous action by the voice, I can eliminate fear. What I don’t see is that this limits my options with the voice to those which I can predict – and so control – and rules out any chance of growth beyond the limits of my technique. 

The natural approach to the voice addresses this fear directly: If there is nothing to be lost, then fear goes. If there is no technique, it can’t fail us.

The voice which doesn’t exist as a voice separated from the expression of the Self can’t cease to exist, can’t fail to function when needed. Since nothing happens to make it function except intention, there’s nothing to fail. The voice just is, barring illness and organic problems, and that’s that.

What could be simpler?

Since the vocal function is nothing more than a physical function impelled by intention, then we’ve only to keep the physical function available to use at all times, be actively involved with intention, and the outcome is assured.

It’s truly that simple, when we come to see it.

It’s the acceptance of the simplicity which is the bar to understanding and using it.

Who trusts simplicity?


Foreman, Edward. Transformative voice. Vol. 8. Pro Musica Press, 1998.