I just attended the transcontinental Voice Conference at the SF Conservatory of Music – what a treat! Lots of fascinating presentations and a concert with superb singers of various styles.
There is always something new to learn about voice. Did you know that for belting the best vowel is Eh? And Jersey twang? We watched heavy metal singers’ vocal folds vibrate healthily during high volume scream (distortion produced by “false vocal chords” above), presented by Dr Krzysztof Izdebski. We heard inspirational stories from patients who recovered their voices after surgery or severe conditions such as Bell’s Palsy, often after hearing from “experts” that they would never sing again.
What I found the most interesting was that the absolute basic concepts of singing technique are still expressed in seemingly contradictory terms. I was very happy to see and hear Lisa Popeil of Voiceworks in Los Angleles talk about the jaw. She clearly demonstrated that the “loose jaw” is a concept that gets in the way of good singing in almost any style, from country to opera. She proved it with photos of great singers such as Cecilia Bartoli in the middle of her coloratura runs and Whitney Houston in her high notes.
She also explained that the “release of the jaw” has nothing to do with “dropping the jaw”. It might technically be the jaw, but for all practical purposes it looks like working with a part of the face.
Before this part can be specified, the student doesn’t really know what they should release.
Another great presentation was the one on Alexander Technique. It was a very different approach than the one I got to know studying with a practitioner, much clearer and commons sense, but I saw an area of confusion similar to the issue of the jaw. Did Mr Alexander have a “forward pelvis” or a “posterior pelvic tilt”? Or both?
The photos clarified what was wrong with his posture. ( The presentation by Robert Britton of SF Conservatory of Music)
We also got some tips for teaching apps presented by Heidi Moss. I will write more about them after a test run.