Karenís Approach to TeachingVoice
Singing is one of the greatest joys in life. Perhaps that’s why so many people sing in the shower and in their cars. How wonderful, then, to have the gift to be able to sing well, not only for your own enjoyment, but to perform for others, and, ultimately to sing professionally. Karen teaches the traditional Bel Canto classical technique, which is widely believed to be the best foundation for all styles of singing. Young singers, adults with little or no training, choral singers and even those singing just for fun, benefit greatly from developing proper singing and breathing technique.
Each lesson begins with exercises in breathing and breath support and good singing posture. Karen is currently studying ways in which to incorporate the Alexander Technique into her vocal teaching. Depending upon the student’s needs, a good deal of the lesson can be spent focusing on vocal exercises and technique, including expanding the range, working on the legato line and sustaining and regulating the breath. We also practice blending of the various vocal registers: head, middle (the passaggio) and chest voices. There should be no tension in the jaw or tongue and the singer should feel as though the voice is floating on the breath, supported by the abdominal muscles, and resonating in the appropriate areas of the three registers.
Then, as we focus on a piece of music, the vocal technique is applied to the song. We work on transforming the notes on the page into an expressive piece of music and polish it to performance level.
Whatever genre the student is interested in singing Classical, Opera, Standards or Musical Theatre and Belting, he or she needs to know how to breathe and sing properly. This requires diligent practice, preferably on a daily basis. It is not something that happens over-night. It can take months for proper breathing habits and good vocal technique to become second nature. Many singers have gotten into bad habits and have various vocal problems as a result of trying to imitate pop singers, singing from their throats, through their noses, or belting without proper support or development of the vocal musculature. It can take time to undo vocal problems.
The voice and the health of the singer must be cared for. Our bodies are our instruments and cannot be replaced. The quality, the potential and the limitations of our voices are subject to our physiology. However, everyone can improve their singing and, hopefully, reach their potential, with proper training, good technique and practice.
There are many, many different approaches to teaching voice and even towards breathing technique. Perhaps, in finding the right voice teacher, the thing to look for is flexibility and the ability to try various approaches to find which works best for each student.
Your voice teacher should also assist you in finding songs appropriate for your voice. It is important to build a repertoire which challenges you but also which you can enjoy singing and which will show your vocal strengths.