Awakening Your Embodied Voice

Awakening Your Embodied Voice
Awareness Through Movement for the natural voice 

Been pouring my heart out in an article about Liberating The Heart’s Voice – check it out here...


The diaphragm - inside and out! © Carla Drayton

The Embodied Voice Weekend

Feel how your vocal equipment actually works 

Discover how the natural sounds we are all able to produce without effort can lead us naturally into singing or speaking with power and expression

Learn how to keep your voice healthy and strong whether performing, presenting or teaching

Learn how to heal vocal injuries if you do overdo it

Begin the process of freeing yourself from physical and mental limitations, and restricting postural habits, in order to allow your true speaking and singing voice to soar unfettered.

Many performers cannot explain what they are doing to make their voices louder, clearer and more exciting to listen to, but all these skills can be traced back to natural human sounds like laughing, crying, yelling and squealing. This weekend will explore different qualities of the human voice from the sweetest to the most powerful, finding natural, functional ways to increase volume, vocal range, and stamina. 

The Embodied Voice course combines Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® with the up-to-the-minute voice training techniques that have emerged from more accurate, reliable vocal information, now available thanks to the developments of modern science. It is aimed at anyone who wishes to develop a conscious, flexible, strong, healthy voice – whether their interest is singing, speaking well as an actor, or freeing their natural voice as a healing or spiritual process – and of course any combination of these elements. There will be no pressure to perform during the weekend – the idea is to understand how your voice works and develop your vocal confidence and awareness so that with practice your voice can become fully integrated both physically and emotionally – a totally embodied voice. It is important that you feel relaxed and able to explore sounds without any embarrassment or self-consciousness.

Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement accelerates your ability to learn new physical skills by enabling you to recognise and enhance the behaviour that lays down new neural pathways in our wonderfully “plastic” brain. Regular practice increases your agility, grace, sensuality, breathing capacity, and consequently the Method is particularly suitable for developing the skills required by vocal performance, whether amateur or professional. Actors and singers know the importance of freedom and mobility in the neck, jaw, shoulders, ribs and spine, and the ability to stand with ease and vitality, for the development of a charismatic presence on stage. All Feldenkrais work brings you closer to these postural goals.

Contact me for upcoming workshops in the UK

More detail on the course itself…

Embodied Voice I – Spontaneous Whole-Self Breathing

This part of the course introduces anyone who is unfamiliar with it to the Awareness Through Movement process, with a series of lessons designed to increase available movement in the neck, shoulders, ribs, and spine, to clarify the breathing process from the pelvic floor upwards, and to show how natural breath coordination morphs easily into the more sophisticated process required for sustained powerful vocalising.  It prepares the way for the in-depth exploration of the vocal instrument in segment II.

Embodied Voice IIKnow Your Instrument Inside Out

Some of our muscles are more “conscious” than others; it is easy to sense the movements and positioning of the fingers, but considerably less easy to sense what is happening when we swallow, shout, or cough.  Many professional performers are unable to clearly describe what they are doing to make their voices louder, clearer and more exciting to listen to; they achieved their skills by imitation and accidental discovery. Some of the most powerful sounds a human being can make are nearly effort-free; some involve sophisticated muscle control and coordination, and the efficient use of muscular energy; but all can be traced back to natural human sounds like laughing, crying, yelling and squealing.

This section of the course combines modern vocal training techniques with the Awareness Through Movement learning process, to discover and explore all the different qualities of the human voice from the sweetest to the most powerful, finding natural, functional ways to increase volume, vocal range, and vocal stamina.

The Embodied Voice VocalDynamix Course is intended to cover all the ground necessary for a full understanding of vocal performance, and allow each student to fully explore her or his unique voice, but in its basic form it is not a singing performance course, and we will not be using group time to learn songs or perform to each other.  As with all Feldenkrais work, the idea is to discover new ways of doing familiar things and increase our range of choices, and it is often unhelpful to test these brand new possibilities out immediately in front of an audience – even such a supportive one.  It takes time and patient attention to yourself to discover your own restricting and limiting habits of self, physical and mental, and the pressure to perform and impress can undo all that good work very quickly. VocalDynamix workshops are intended to appeal both to professionals and to those on a journey of self-discovery, and they are ideal for those who would like to increase vocal self-awareness and singing skills, but are shy of performing.

Comments from previous attendees:

“It was liberating – discovering the connection between my breathing and my belly began the process of releasing inhibitions I had held for as long as I could remember.  I could feel that my whole body was involved in my emotional expression and the sound of my voice.  It was particularly exciting for me as I am a head person – I came away with more confidence to be myself – more spontaneous somehow.”

Anne Kennedy, Voice and Feldenkrais student

“I find Maggy’s workshops highly informative, inspirational, fun, and a big treat for the voice, body and spirit.  Maggy has the unique professional combination of being a Feldenkrais practitioner, singing teacher and jazz performer,  and she offers her knowledge and experience in a warm, relaxed and sensitive manner.  I cannot recommend these workshops highly enough to anyone interested in learning more about their voice and body.”

Abi Strevens MA, BSc (Hons), State Registered Music Therapist (SRAsT (M))

Do you know…

…that classical singers specialise in the two octaves appropriate to their title (soprano, tenor etc), but many people can produce anything up to four octaves and some people can demonstrate six or more?

Mariah Carey and her five octaves:

Brett Manning demonstrating his six octaves:

…that there is a ring of muscle at the entrance to your larynx (the ary-epiglottic sphincter) that can be contracted to increase your vocal volume by 14 decibels without any sense of extra effort?

This is because it increases the level of sound produced in the 2,500 to 4,000 hertz range and that is the frequency range we are most sensitive to – and as this is the same frequency range produced by a squalling baby there is a good reason for that! This is why so many people are agitated by similar sounds, such as squawking birds, yowling cats and foxes, grating metal, and chalk squeaking down the blackboard.

That when we are born our hearing is already tuned to the frequency range of our native language and that therefore the best time to expose a baby’s ears to another language with a very different acoustic range (such as Chinese for an English baby, and vice versa) the first nine months after birth? This is why the exploring the range of vocal sounds we can produce is a great way to improve the way we listen and can even fine tune our hearing.

That your “natural” voice is produced by coordinated muscular activity and is therefore as affected by your habitual behaviour as your posture?

That sometimes it is better to have tension in some of those vocal muscles if you want your voice to be loud enough and strong enough to last all day?

Voice and the teacher… Would you like to know how to access that easy volume for your own voice when teaching your classes?

I am certain that Feldenkrais is the perfect process for enabling actors and singers to achieve freedom and flexibility for their voices. I am also certain that Feldenkrais is the ideal method for helping anyone improve their voice – whether they want to sing with more skill, power and range, or speak with more resonance, expression and stamina, or perform with more individuality, vocal coordination and integration. I also know that vocal awareness work can help us to hone our ability to listen throughout our natural hearing frequency range, and that working with the voice is the ideal way to stimulate and calibrate self-development and self-expression.

My main reason for training as a Feldenkrais Practitioner was to develop the Method in the context of vocal awareness, health, and performance training. Apparently I anticipated no difficulty in backing up one obscure profession – jazz singing – with another!

The human vocal equipment is continuously engaged in one vital function – breathing –  and regularly engaged in two others – preparing food for digestion, and communication.

The complexity and sophistication of our communication function is unparalleled in the animal kingdom, however the awareness we have of the muscles involved varies enormously from structure to structure, and that is in part due to the vital importance of the other two functions. The human larynx is in more danger of choking while eating than any other creature – a newborn larynx is positioned high in the mouth so that breathing and suckling can go on simultaneously, but by 6 months the larynx has moved back and down into the throat and from this moment on the three functions interconnect in a much more complex way. In order to protect us from choking several important vocal structures act so automatically that we only have a limited awareness of, and control over, them. On the other hand many of the muscles we use for communication – articulators like the tongue and the lips – are much easier to control and very easy indeed to sense.

http://youtu.be/hp-gCvW8PRY

In this workshop we will explore the vocal mechanism with unique Awareness Through Movement Lessons for:

Our external musculature – i.e. the lips, tongue, and laryngeal muscles.

Our internal musculature – the soft palate, the pharyngeal constrictors, and both the true and the vestibular vocal folds (also known as cords).

 

I will also clarify the way the diaphragm, respiratory muscles and the pelvic floor function as the foundation of the performer’s voice. 

More about VocalDyamix and my experience working with the voice here.

More Testimonials for VocalDynamix:

“Maggy Burrowes is a rare find:  talented  (very) ;  charismatic (very); subject knowledge (excellent);  and ability to convey such knowledge -unequalled !   She has dynamism, a strong sense of humour and patience with such an attractive personality as to make Anatomy (usually dullish in the medical sense) into a fascinating study of the voice in her VocalDynamix course.  I have attended two of these courses with Maggy and I can’t stress enough how enjoyable and informative they are.”

Fiona Grinham, singer, songwriter, dog-lover!

 

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