Breathing technique contradictions among singing teachers
I recently read a research paper on breathing technique related to singing. Here is an interesting comment from a singing student on his experience of working with various teachers of singing:
“One teacher will tell you that… you must protrude your abdomen so that your diaphragm has room to operate. The next will contradict this… you should contract the muscles of the abdomen causing it to flatten. Another group will tell you to fill your lungs full of air and go ahead and sing. Their ideas of breath expulsion are just as divergent. One says… to push out the abdomen and use force in contradicting the muscles around the lower ribs. Another will tell you… you must forcibly flatten the abdomen and give a big push with the diaphragm. Still another suggests that you let the chest sink as breath is expelled, keeping a steady pressure upon the lungs with the rib 2 muscles… Is it any wonder that voice pupils get the idea that singing is an abnormal art and not founded on nature at all?”
My own training with various singing teachers was similar. Everyone seemed to have a different idea about how to do it. It was not until I met and trained with Margaret Laughlin Riddleberger (Metropolitan Opera) that I began to understand that singing and speaking are the same physiological process and the speaking voice is essentially the basis of the singing voice. Here is Dr. P. Mario Marifioti’s third Principle of voice production that correlates with how I learned to sing:
Breath is an indispensable factor in voice production, but
it is not the essential power which develops the voice as it
is taught today. On the contrary, the function of singing
develops the breathing apparatus and its power, just as
any physiological function develops the organ from which
it takes origin. Therefore, singing develops breathing, not
I discovered that I had been doing something different the moment I began to sing then when I spoke. And many singers do so as well, in my direct observation. Marifioti’s fifth principle clarifies what I learned from Margaret:
Speaking and singing are similar functions, produced by
the same physiological mechanism; therefore they are the
same vocal mechanism.
The speaking voice acts as the substantial factor of the
singing voice and constitutes its real support. Singing, it
its very essence, is merely speaking in musical rhythm;
hence no correct singing can exist without a correctly
produced speaking voice.
Any singer who wishes to sing in the their authentic God given voice, must either have it innately or find a teacher who can get them to bridge the gap between you speaking voice and singing voice. It is that simple. No tips or tricks or theory or belief, or dogma will get you there. It took me more than 10 years of training to achieve the singing voice that matched my speaking voice signature while singing in front of a live audience.
Today, I have found ways to accelerate the singers development toward virtuosity if they have the raw talent and the dedication and perseverance that it takes to get there. With me, it will begin with an audition interview and a Tomatis® Listening Test.
In this video, notice how speaking and singing are the same process, from my NUC one man show, “Love, Desire and Growing Pains” at the Avalon Theater.
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