Friday July 7th
11 am – 5 pm (includes lunch and tea breaks)
Fee: £65 / £55 (concession – low income, Feldenkrais Guild Members, MU and Equity)
Free your breathing from your nostrils to your pelvic floor!
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 constraining postural habits, in order to allow your fully embodied voice to soar unfettered
Even highly experienced performers can struggle to explain what they are doing to make their voices louder, clearer and more exciting to listen to, but all their professional skills can be traced back to natural human sounds like laughing, crying, yelling and squealing. This workshop 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 and fitness.
The Embodied Voice course combines Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® with state-of-the-art information on the structure and function of our vocal equipment, 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 and/or spiritual process – and of course any combination of these goals. 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, in other words an effortlessly embodied voice. For this reason it is important that you feel relaxed and able to explore making sounds without any embarrassment or self-consciousness
Drakefell Road, SE14
07976 640737 / 020 7642 1457
Voice, Breath and Heart – Embodying The Voice
Next Class TBA
The connection between singing and the functioning of the heart is no longer just a romantic metaphor but an established fact, which very exciting for those of us who spend our lives sharing the emotional joys and sensory pleasures of singing with as many other people as we can!
The neuro-muscular structures and systems that we learn to control in order to sing with freedom and emotional expression are directly linked to the healthy functioning of our heart, the clarity of our hearing, the rhythms of our breathing, the expressivity of our facial muscles and the ease with which we interact with those around us.
Research is validating what singers have known for millennia – that the voice is a direct route to lifting our spirits and opening our hearts to the joy of life, and the key to this is our breathing – breathing fully within ourselves, and breathing in harmony with others – as happens naturally whenever we come together to sing, whether in a class or a choir…or the Open Mic Night at The Telegraph…
Breathing fully should not be a challenge but it can be, as limiting the breath is one of our most available ways to disconnect from the intensity of life, giving us an immediate tool for relieving stress, and this constricted breath can become so habitual that it is not always easy to free ourselves of its inhibiting effect.
In these classes we will release this inhibitory tension throughout the respiratory system, and thus regain full breathing in any posture, including sitting – which is vital for effective mindfulness meditation as well as freeing the voice. We will also enrich our vocal resonance by releasing tension in face, jaw, tongue and throat, and by developing our vocal overtones. These classes will share themes and techniques and can be treated as separate or as a mini-course.
I discuss the science of the heart-voice connection in this blog post if you would like to understand more about this process – here is an excerpt:
The heart and the voice both function as powerful metaphors in our everyday language. We can “speak from the heart”, “sing our heart out”, feel our heart is “bursting” with emotion, or “full of joy”, or an unkind word can be a “knife to the heart”. A writer strives to develop her “authentic voice”; she may “give voice” to her true feelings; a trusted political figure may become the “voice of a nation”. All these – perhaps over-familiar – phrases reveal how closely we associate the voice and the heart with authenticity, integrity, truth, spontaneity, and depth of feeling. As social creatures, revealing what is “closest to our hearts” is another way in which we use our voice make connections and bond with one another. Continues here.
What VocalDynamix is all about…
VocalDynamix is designed to help 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 part of a healing and/or spiritual process, or any combination of these elements. Awakening The Embodied Voice is a Feldenkrais-based vocal training process incorporating the original VocalDynamix coursework. There is no pressure to perform in my classes – the work is about understanding your voice and developing your vocal awareness so that, with practice over time, your voice can become fully integrated both physically and emotionally, and these workshops are suitable for everyone, non-performer and performer alike.
One-to-one Singing and Voice training also available:
£45 per lesson
Package of 3 lessons in a 30 day period (during normal working hours) - £105
Package of 3 lessons in a 30 day period (outside normal working hours) - £120
I also offer hands-on Vocal Functional Integration lessons at the Feldenkrais lesson rates, see above.
Please note all packages rates are to be paid fully in advance of the final session, in one or two instalments.
Here is a sample VocalDynamix lesson – it is also available on my website:
This is a segment of the VocalDynamix lesson for the true vocal cords (also called vocal folds). One of the factors that makes vocal awareness work so interesting is that we humans are usually much less sensitive to those areas of our musculature that need to function automatically and constantly. The vocal cords are part of the mechanism for protecting the airway from foreign bodies, and consequently they are not very sensitive to pain; you may have noticed that, compared to the misery of a sore throat, losing your voice is pretty pain-free. Fortunately purposeful movement gives us an effective tool for increasing muscle awareness, and thus it is possible to learn to override these protective mechanisms, with practise.
Your Vocal Folds – a mini Awareness Through Movement lesson
As with all A.T.M. lessons, find a comfortable position in which you feel supported. Lying on your back, or reclining in a comfortable chair that supports your head, will work for this lesson.
Gentle, attentive repetition is the key to creating new neural pathways, so repeat each movement for as long as it remains interesting to you, pausing between each movement and resting often.
i. With your mouth gently open, take a small inhalation, and hold your breath, lightly, for a few seconds, then exhale, and repeat. Be relaxed about it, don’t rush, breathing quickly and/or through the mouth, is one of the triggers for hyperventilation. While you are doing this, ask yourself:-
*What am I doing in order to hold my breath?
*What is happening in my throat, my ribs, my belly, my torso?
There are two basic ways to hold the breath in your throat after an inhalation; you can close the vocal cords to form a seal, or you can hold your ribcage and your torso still in such a way that the air does not escape. Can you tell which of these ways you are using? Maybe you are doing both at once? One way to sense the difference is to gently squeeze downwards and inwards with hands on your ribs. If your vocal cords are closed, the air will not escape and you may sense some pressure against the cords from below, or some downward pressure on your diaphragm; if they are open, this movement will squeeze some of your breath out.
ii. Experiment until you can hold your breath these two different ways and can clearly distinguish between them.
i. Now, continuing with the inhale/hold/exhale breathing pattern, take in a larger breath, make sure you are holding your breath with the vocal cords closed, and then release it in tiny amounts in a series of short bursts. Put your hands over your ears, and listen to the sound your vocal cords make at the instant of release. Once you have located this tiny “glottal pop” (the “glottis” is the open space between the two vocal cords), you should find that you can hear it easily, without covering your ears.
*Is your sound like a “pop”, or more like a tiny cough? The sound becomes more cough-like, the larger the amount of air that escapes through your cords.
ii. Play around until you can make both sounds, the glottal pop and the cough-like sound, and then alternate between the two.
iii. Find out how to make a long stream of little pops. You will find that so little air is escaping that you feel as if you are holding your breath, and when you stop you may release a little sigh of relief – the air left in your lungs is stale and needs to be replenished.
i. Shape your mouth as if you are saying “er” (i.e. the sound we make when we are thinking what to say next). Notice that it involves almost no special shaping of your tongue and lips – which makes sense if you think about it.
ii. Initiating the sound with your glottal pop, produce a long, steady, whispered “er”, making as little breath noise as possible. Practise maintaining your nearly silent “er” for as long as you can comfortably do so, and, using your hands as much as you wish, find out what happens to your breathing, and your torso, as you become more practised at controlling the flow of your out breath in this way.
This experiment enables the kind of breathing that singers learn to use in performance for maximum power and control.
Do let me know how you get on…
More about the origins of the Embodied Voice course here.
Testimonials for Embodied Voice – more here:
“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))
Private Lessons for Continuous Learning
The workshops function as an introduction to the possibilities of VocalDynamix, but only a commitment to continuous learning and constantly increasing self-awareness will bring the full rewards of this work to the student. If you wish to develop professional speaking or singing skills then you are advised to follow a course of private study with me.