Judy Rodman started a discussion on those 'pesky breaks' on the TMV forum so I thought I would post a blog on it. It's a fabulous post for a discussion, very controversial because of the different techniques arrived at by different teachers to instruct how to bridge. I highly suggest that after you read this article that you go to the TMV Forum and read about her thoughts there.
I have found that breaks in the voice have to do with improper natural support of the diaphragmatic muscles and the lack of muscular development that surround the cords, control them, and get them to stretch for pitch. If those muscles are weak, and the diaphragmatic muscles are weak as well, there won't be enough bracing tension between the two to sustain the one-register effect without the mechanism collapsing and flipping registers.
I teach some science - in laymen's terms - to give an intellectual understanding about the cords themselves. But mind alone can only take one so far. Learning, and true knowledge can only be gained once one as learned from the PHYSICAL experience. This is when all the puzzle pieces come together.
All of us, as teachers, are basically trying to teach the same things. We just have different styles and ways of wording things. However, I have also found that words themselves are easily misperceived -- so finding the right ones to instruct with are important.
I have been able to successfully bridge breaks when I teach my "new' method of how to engage the diaphragm properly. For my students, as well as me, this one teeny tiny discovery (which I cannot give away until the book I am currently writing is in my publisher's hands. It is the entire focus of this book) has worked magically for those who have never been able to bridge before. But of course, it takes practice to learn how to break bad habits. Most teachers have discovered their own brand of a magical fix -- it's just a matter of finding one who you can connect with and understand.
Practice from my end of things as a teacher includes exercises to strengthen the muscle groups that control the cords, as well as my chosen diaphragmatic exercises. Once the student gets the"hang of it," then transferring this information to songs is easy since all I need to teach is how to focus and pronounce the consonants correctly to get THEM to become the propelling mechanism rather than what happens when focusing on how to propel sound with use of air, engagement of the diaphragmatic muscles, and placement while working exercises on vowel sounds alone.
To me it's an exciting journey because it is the one I have taken my own self on. I've learned so much over the years that my passion to teach is overwhelming. There isn't one student, from beginner to professional, that I cannot identify with as they trudge this often frustrating road. I'd been on it, too. But I do know that with persistence, information, and a good guide into how-to instruction, that this frustration passes and eventually leads to FREEDOM. The voice WILL and DOES bridge. It just takes working up the muscles that control the entire mechanism -- much like going to the gym to buff up and gain strength. Gain the strength you need and you will also gain the power you seek. That power will come from resonance.