Weekly Teaching Tip – Sep. 20, 2011
The key to helping singers improve is to help them “get into the right place”. Their nervous system has to feel the correct balance and coordination and then spend enough time there that it accepts it and it becomes second nature. I frequently tell students, “Don’t worry what it ‘sounds like’, think about what it ‘feels like’. Then continue to stay in that feeling until your body fully accepts it and it becomes second nature.”
I find that 3 tends to be the magic number. If the singer will just allow themselves to be in the correct place for three times in a row the nervous system tends to relax and begin to accept it and stop fighting it. So, it is up to us as teachers to make sure that by using the correct vowel, consonant, scale and range that the singer gets into the right place, then stays there long enough to take hold. Once we are certain that they are solid in this place we can then gently move them to other sounds and scales which are more difficult for them until they are finally ready for anything a song might throw at them and move them into applying these feelings in a song. If at any point they “fall out” of the correct place we must immediately get them back into the right place so they can continue to “lock in” and get comfortable there.
(Further Clarification from Dr. Noe – a more ‘technical’ explanation)
the primary thing is finding the right space (of the vowel) rather than the place. The feeling of the place with the help of the sympathetic vibrations of the formants (=sound waves) which form that vowel is possible if the primary (forming the space) was successful. But it is secondary (one cannot place the voice) and can be a good control after the happy event but not the directive by the teacher. It would be dangerous, because it often leads to a ” Triebresonanz after Lohmann” driven by the expiratory muscles. Narrowing or giving another vowel-consonant / diphthong-consonant combination for example could be a correct directive. Regards, Hubert
(From Dean) – In other words, we believe in the concept of “Placement”, however, not as much of the vocal world does. Placement is where you feel it, not where you put it. We use vowels, consonants and exercises in the proper range to help the singer “feel” how it should be, to get them into the proper placement or “space” as Dr, Noe has stated. Much of the vocal community talks about “putting” the sound somewhere or “placing the sound” which is not actually possible and not good teaching.