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An Interview with Dena Murray - on her new book 'Vocal Strength and Power'

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Steven Fraser

 'Vocal Strength and Power' by Dena Murray
Interview

Steve: Hi, Dena! I understand that your new book on singing has just been published. Would you tell us a little bit about it?

Dena: This is a book that has been 15 years in the making. From the time I started teaching (over 20 years ago,) I knew there was a problem with the prevailing concepts of diaphragmatic support. Singers were injuring themselves from too much pressure and misperceiving instructions.

Steve: Do yo mean that the usual "singing teacher's lingo" was not helpful in leading the student in what they should do?

Dena: Yes, exactly. They also were not getting what they'd hoped to get from taking lessons i.e., freedom when singing/performing. So after many years of study, I finally uncovered that the problem boiled down to correct intake of air (the inhale) and created exercises to correct it.

Steve: You've published two other books on singing. How does this latest one fit in with them?

Dena: Well, I never set out to do a three-part series but that was the end result of all my work. Vocal Technique: Finding Your Real Voice is a beginners book and focuses on the vocal mechanism. I did two things deliberately for the beginner:

1) I skipped the discussion of how to use the diaphragm for support, and instead created exercises to builid up the muscles and cartilages which control/support the vocal folds, and,

2) I separated the chest voice from the head voice because in my experience if there are problems in either register, those problems will show up when trying to bridge and combine them for that one-register sound.This book is the first step in how to gain support.

Steve: Ok, I am with you so far. How was your approach received by your readers?

Dena: Very well, I think. My European readers were especially open with their positive feed-back, and I still receive comments to day on that book's usefulness.

Steve: Ok! What was your second book like?

Dena: The second one, Advanced Vocal Technique: Middle Voice, Placement & Styles (co-authored by Tita Hutchison,) focuses on a step-by-step process of how to bridge the voice for the one register sound, vowel formation, and correct placement for any given style.

Steve: So, that would make it the 'next steps' after clarifying the Chest and Head voices, and some discussion of the different vocal productions.

Dena: Yes, that's right. There are 13 exercises in this book with every feeling and sensation one should (and shouldn't) have, literally spelled out for the singer. Again, we purposely stayed away from too much focus on the diaphragm. This book is the second step with regard to support.

Steve: All right. How does this third book extend the approach of the other two?

Dena: In this third and last book of the series, Vocal Strength and Power, the focus is solely on how to employ correct use of the diaphragmatic region for its support of the entire mechanism.

Steve: How is your approach different from other's you've heard?

Dena: Simply stated, I've uncovered a problem inherent with other approaches to 'support' instruction, and created exercises to correct the problem.

Steve: Ok, I'll bite. What is the problem?

Dena: The problem is the correct intake of air before singing.

Steve: Who can benefit from your approach and exercises?

Dena: Anyone should be able to add these exercises (if they should so choose) to already working methods of techniques when they notice they are struggling for not just the freedom, but also their inherent great sound.

Steve: Dena, what else does the book contain?

Dena: In addition to the CD of exercises, this book also includes a glossary of dictionary-definition. 

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