When I reached Canada in 1980 and almost right from the start began teaching voice (speaking and singing), I noticed that, in general, nobody per say paid attention to the way they were speaking/singing or, for that matter, even conducting a proper posture while trying to deliver a message.
Some of them, while speaking, were literally falling backwards, arching their upper back to the wall behind them, rather than to me standing right in front of them.
Needless to say that by doing that, they were throwing their speech backwards and the voice would be falling to the back of their vocal cords, which is quite deadly for the vocal health.
Nevertheless, the words were coming out slurred and un-pronounced; thus, their enunciation was quite poor.
A lot of them were complaining of dry and/or full of mucous throats.
Some of them were complaining of the actual pain and discomfort in their vocal boxes.
Today, 32 years later, the problems still persist.
The difference is that I am not surprised anymore why they actually persist.
Being well rounded educated in Russia, we were taught how to conduct our bodies at all given times, not only while speaking and how to properly speak and read, announcing and pronouncing clearly, each and every syllable of the word.
Not to mention, we were taught phonetics (which is very foreign for the North American education), we were taught phrasing, emphasis, inflections and had stressed on a very important component - breathing between the phrases.
Here in Canada, the majority of people who come to my private classes, do not have the slightest idea of anything that I described above.
The absence and lack of knowledge of those components could not only contribute to somewhat illiteracy, but mainly will infringe on the health of the vocal box and vocal anatomy in general and on some bodily components of health, such as lower back problems, for example.
While staying inclined backwards with the pelvis pushed forward, they distribute their whole weight on the lower back muscles and their legs.
No doubts that down the road, if not already, these people will be suffering from the skeletal disorders.
The voice, in the meantime, has been thrown back, therefore, the person trying still to deliver some coherent message, would push that voice stronger, at least just to be heard and somewhat understood.
If for a minute you would visualize a violin player who holds the violin in the wrong position, you will easily visualize that the sound that violinist will be producing will definitely be wrong and not pleasant for the ear.
Likewise, the sound, speaking or singing, will be produced, so to speak, from the wrong side of the "instrument".
The human being represents the instrument and the player at once.
If the instrument is broken, untuned or used improperly, the playing, no matter how good the player is, will be insufficient and inadequate.
Conversely, if the instrument is intact, but the player is not utilizing it properly, the so called "total performance" will not be achieved either.
So, that said, we need the integration and synergy between the "instrument and the player".
Let's talk about the vocal anatomy per say, right now.
In Russia, we have a saying, "You are what you eat".
If the person eats a lot of acidic foods and a lot of mucus forming foods, his vocal anatomy, not to mention the anatomy in general, will never be intact.
So the clean and mucousless body, would be a really good start for the vocal health and the health in general.
In the holistic teaching, the rules are: cleanse and build.
If in need of a healthy body and a healthy voice, find the good cleansing natural means, which will clean your body from the excess mucus and find the natural herbs, which will clean your blood, as it is equally important.
Simultaneously, try to build your body with the good nutrients, anti-oxidants and find the care for your immune support.
The stronger and more vibrant your body is, the stronger and cleaner your voice will come out.
Once we clean and tune up the human "instrument", now we can be concerned about the manner of playing on that "instrument".
The conventional voice coaching suggests to drop the jaw down, to stick the stomach and pelvis out and to distribute the whole weight on the lower part of the body.
If you refer to my writing above you will see that my philosophy and point of view on this is not corresponding with that teaching.
In fact, all of it could be quite detrimental to the vocal anatomy and the human anatomy in general.
My suggestion to the reader is, while conducting the proper posture of the clean and fit body, release the vocal anatomy and the lower part of the structural anatomy of any pressure.
The weight has to be distributed equally through the body, while supporting and utilizing the sound, which will be coming out of one's mouth.
Your voice is a spirit and it has to be flown freely off of your physical body and as I like to say, straight to the Universe, where the sky is the limit.
By lifting the voice off of the vocal cords and restructuring the whole sound to the set of the facial muscles (sinus cavities), the vocal anatomy will be freed up, and by utilizing the lower abdomen and upper diaphragm muscles, the pressure of the lower part of the body also will be released.
Now, the facial muscles will begin to work in full conjunction and coordination with the abdominal muscles and thus, the use of the throat, larynx and vocal cords will be minimized and practically, per say, eliminated.
In this instance, the health and longevity of the human voice will be assured for life.
Diana Yampolsky is the Master Vocal Coach, Studio Vocal Producer, and Non-Surgical Voice Repair Specialist at The Royans Professional Vocal School in Toronto, Canada. She is also the creator of the Vocal Science ™ method and Talent Scoutand Director for the 4 A.M. Talent Development and Artist Management Group Inc.
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If you find yourself struggling with vocal performance or are in need of voice repair, you can reach Diana by email or phone, Toll Free in North America, at 1-888-229-TUNE (8863)