The psychology of voice
– a meetingpoint between voice, psychology, existentialism and art.
- Why is it, that voice-work is much more vulnerable , than to explore other skills like skiing, swimming etc. ?
- How do we, as singing-teachers, handle this vulnerability in our work?
Many singing-teachers do not have the necessary skills to work with the existential and psychological aspects of the voice.
But even though we do not have these skills, it can be useful to discuss and wonder about the origin of this “vulnerability”, where does it come from, what are the roots of it?
It is a enormous gap between therapeutic voice work and technical singing lessons. On the other hand we cannot separate the two , it‘s a complete confluence!
And in my point of view – it is in the synthesis of the two factors that ART appear.
The brave singer who is able to touch, to move, not “only” impress , who dare be “naked”, …., together with the tools to fully control his or her voice.
LEVEL OF CONSCIOUSNESS
When we work with voice from this angle, we divide the work in four levels of consciousness:
- Body – consciousness
- Emotional consciousness
- Mental consciousness
- Existential consciousness (can be a spiritual level for somebody, pre-language for other, among other things)
The first and second level can be worked on separately or
mixed, depending on what we are looking for.
But all of us have a very strong connection between the physical sensations and our emotions.
BIRTH and the infants voice
At the moment of birth, the diaphragm started to work for the very first time, ………and most of us began life with a big cry/ scream.
And as we all know, as singing-teachers, in order to make a scream we need to hold back the breath.
At this very first moment of birth, we not only fold out the lungs, create the first vacuum in the thorax, hold back the breath and scream , …….the sudden increase of oxygen also makes the heart close the wall between the two main chambers, and the bloodstream turn the other way around, ….the biggest organic trauma in life !!! —-meaning that our voice/ scream ( that holding back the breath) is totally necessary, …to survive !!!
And then, this existential connection to the voice continues for the baby; the cry results in food, comfort, clean diper, warmth etc. The voice is essential for the existence, to a helpless infant !
If we didn’t have parents who responded in an adequate way to our cry, we would suffer in one way or another. The lack of care would effect us on a deep level, before any words, on the level of pure existence, life and death, THE VOICE, OUR VOICES.
A baby cannot separate itself from it’s voice. It’s the same, 100% connected. The baby IS the voice, the voice IS the baby.
So, the voice is not something we just have ( as some sort of gadget or “app“), the voice is essential to what we ARE.
As Alfred Wolfson, the founder of the Roy Hart theatre, put it; “The voice is the muscle of the soul”
EFFECTS ON THE VOICE
How does this influence a grown up’s singing voice ?
First of all how singers believe in themselves and their voices, and in how they express themselves.
How they hear themselves and what kind of emotions singing, or failing to sing (“good“), brings up the in the singer.
Is the singer able to sing from their real being, as Martin Heidegger would have put it , or is it just a performance outside itself ? Because, if they ARE able to sing from their real being, the audience will meet the singer at their REAL existence, …and magic moments will appear.
WE AS SINGINGTEACHERS
If we take the existentialistic approach to voice, how do we as singing -teachers meet our students when these themes comes up, or show themselves ?
Karlfried Durcheims theory about “who am I from my innermost being, and how can my innermost being transcend my social role and be transparent to all ?” can be interesting.
DO we, as teachers bother to ask ourselves who we are, when we work with our students ? ……Or are we more concerned about our role or authority as a teacher , rather than to meet our students from our genuine being and create a real meeting-point between us and our students. If we dare to be there WITH the student, in our own existence, we will see or meet our students on a deeper level, beyond the role as teacher/ student. Surprisingly often will thus the instrument of voice, the body ( support etc) start working by itself, in a complete natural way.
And to be clear, this has nothing to do with being private with your student, or bringing in your personal stuff – not at all!
Actually it is the opposite, the total awareness of the students energetic field.
One of my greatest inspirators mentioned before, Alfred Wolfson, put it like this: “If you can’t sing the evil, the evil will sing you” , – meaning that if you don’t dare to work with all the different levels when working with the voice, truly there will be something that interfere with the “free voice”, – or a technically good balanced voice, or the ability to express something genuine.
We cannot come around or bypass the fact that previous negative experiences shape and influence the voice in one way or another, wether that may be physical “uncontrolled constrictions” , low self-esteem, lack of authenticity or ability to experiment.
SING, – because the voice is the muscle of the soul !¨
TEACH – like genuine humanbeings!
The work of the voice is THE POWER OF LIFE, – REAL EXISTENCE!!