Weekly Teaching Tip – Jan. 16, 2012
It is very important to keep in mind that the job of ‘fixing’ the voice is the responsibility of the teacher, not the student. You need to make sure that you as the teacher are not putting the burden of “fixing” the sound on the student. For example, we shouldn’t tell a student to “lower their larynx” or “put the sound …”, or “make it feel like…”, etc. It is the teacher’s job to assess the student’s problems and then select exercises that would “fix” the problems the student is experiencing.
For example, if the student’s larynx is rising, don’t say “keep your larynx down”. Say “your larynx is rising. Place your hand on your adams apple and sing. See how it is going up?” Now, give the student a “hooty” goog 1.5 exercize and have them feel how the larynx stays down better. Then continue with exercises that encourage the larynx to stay in a lower, balanced position until the nervous system starts to accept this new feeling.
If the student’s vocal cords are coming apart as they ascend the scale, the teacher should not say, “don’t let go of your vocal cords”, or “don’t be so airy on your high notes” or anything like that. The teacher should say “can you hear that as you sing higher the sound is getting lighter and airier? We need to help you keep those vocal cords together as you sing higher.” Then give them a “nasty” nay, nay on a 1.5 scale and let them feel the connection as they move from chest to head, then continue with other exercises that reinforce this feeling until their nervous systemfully accepts it before moving to the next step.
We just want to make sure that we’re spending most of our time allowing the exercises to create the desired result and not speding too much time describing sensations or putting the responsibility of fixng the sound on the student.
As teachers of singing we are trying to do a very difficult thing, we are trying to help people understand how things “feel”. Some explanation is necessary and is beneficial so that the student understands what we are hearing, what is wrong and what needs to be changed, but we don’t want to get caught up in such technical explanations that we waste time. No one ever learned how to sing by understanding the mechanics of the voice, they learn to sing by experiencing different sensations. They feel these sensations by singing proper exercises.
It is the job of the teacher to assess the student’s problems, make sure the student understands what the problem is, give the student the proper exercise (tool) to fix the problem, then let the tool do the work.