The Thinking Behind the Method
Teaching singing is not unlike undertaking an archaeological dig. You don't build a voice, you uncover it. A voice is like a fragile artefact buried, or perhaps partially showing, that requires careful and gentle excavation. Until it is revealed in its full glory it is too early to judge its value. Some voices are more buried than others. It is tempting merely to polish the bit that is showing. Better by far to go to the trouble of uncovering the whole. No-one can guarantee, at the beginning of the process, what will emerge by the end. However if it comes out intact it will certainly be serviceable, and if it is healthy it will be likable, but only in some cases will it be saleable. But of one thing I am certain; everyone has one.
Learning to sing is to enter a "looking glass" world which overturns your assumptions about what it should feel like when you are singing properly. The better it is the less you feel it. My 'method' is founded on a simple observation, the ignorance of which causes all sorts of problems: namely that the causes of good singing cannot be arrived at simply by imitating the
external symptoms of good singing. Quick fixes that facilitate the manufacture of a 'singerly' sound are short lived and always end in tears. Good singers appear to have an almost limitless supply of breath which misleads the imitator into believing that the solution must be to sing using less air. This is the single biggest mistake. Untrained
singers do not provide a fast enough current of air across their vocal chords to fuel the sound. My job is to show singers how to keep the fuel coming, how to release the sound onto a fast flowing stream, (not unlike letting out the clutch in a car) and how to wean the throat (and tongue and jaw) from interfering with the finely tuned processes of the larynx which is perfectly able to do the job if only we could leave it to its own devices.The vocal apparatus is not visible, and the influence we, as singers, have over it is not entirely conscious or mechanically accessible. The voice is intimately bound to the murky world of self-esteem, confidence, stress and other psychological factors that manifest their influence in various forms of tension and inhibition. Often the cause of a student's vocal difficulties can be found on the perimeter of their psychological comfort zone - fear, by any other name. I see it as my task to provide a safe and supportive environment; to relax students; to encourage them; to enable them to take vocal 'risks' that lead them to new places; to make them laugh; to set them a good example; always to tell them the truth and to help them acquire a realistic view of their own talents and abilities.
Linda's singing metaphors
Riding a Bike
If the current of air flows too slowly you wobble or fall off.
Wide, Languid River
Wide, slow flowing breath is the opposite of what you want.
Moving forward keeps you balanced.
Ping Pong Ball on a Fountain
The note is passively cushioned on a fast jet of air. Photo taken by Brian Maskell.
The Doppler Effect for falling intervals.
Notes are not step-wise rungs on a ladder.
Pacing the breath supply is like pacing the violin bow.
Not jam yesterday nor jam tomorrow, but Jam today! All or nothing.
Vowels exit between the fangs.
The notes of a melody are like pegs on an unbroken washing line.
Egg & Spoon Race
Don't slow down as you approach the finish line.