A very warm welcome to the first post on my brand-new blog! With this blog I would like to create a platform where we can talk about the human voice. 
So, if you’d like to add something, from your experience or otherwise, concerning your own voice you can always post something on my blog.
 
Apart from posting my own writing, I will also post interviews with all kinds of people that are professionally involved with the human voice, like singers, doctors, scientists and voice-teachers and talk with you about articles concerning the human voice.
 
I will do my very best to write in correct English but of course it is not my native language so forgive me when I make mistakes 🙂 If you write to me and want me to place your reaction on this blog, please do so in English since many of my students of the Amsterdam Conservatory come from other countries.
 
I studied, and I am still studying, all kinds of voice techniques like the nasal method of Pahn, EVT, CVT, etc. (see my biography). I learned a lot studying all those different methods and decided never to follow just one road but being always curious and eager to find out more. And when I teach I try to give the best exercises for the problem at hand in a way that is easily understood by the person that I am teaching. 
 
I think that an important notice is to distinguish between objective and subjective information given to a student. For example, objective information might be information given to us by scientists; so, it is common information. Subjective information might be the way a person experiences what is happening, and therefore not always true for everybody. I think that both kinds of information can be worthwhile to talk about as long as we know what we are talking about. 
I really think that a voice-teacher should be very aware of the differences between these two types of information. 
 
So, I think after this welcome post, we can begin. 
I hope that we’ll all have fun with this blog and that, at the same time, it will enrich us all by sharing information and thoughts about the great passion that connects us all: Singing!!

 

4 antwoorden
  1. ingrid Smeenk
    ingrid Smeenk zegt:

    Dear Lieve , you have a very good website ! Amazing you have a Master in Jazz and Classical singing . I read through a book of exercises and information about classical singing .I read about about the 19th century old Italian technique ‘”Appoggio. It means support and ‘lean upon ‘according to the book. At all times the sternum is kept high(because of the right position of the diaphragm and it’s all about balancing breath and support and expansion of the ribs .Many years ago I had classical singing lessons ,I was taught to keep my abdomen out on high notes instead of pulling the navel in slowly on long phrases as to move the diaphragm up as the air slowly goes out of the lungs . Is the keeping of the abdomen outwards as long as possible also an old technique ?I can t find it in the Miller book.Have you ever heard of this technique? I know some older students have been told in the past to move out the abdomen as part of the support whilst exhaling on long phrases or high notes. Breathing and support are difficult subjects even for experienced singers . As far as I know you pull in the navel slowly and use head, neck anchoring and the back muscles for support for all singing styles or do you have a different opinion ? Are there differences in breath management and support in jazz/classical singing styles ?
    kind regards Ingrid Smeenk.

    Beantwoorden
    • Lieve Geuens
      Lieve Geuens zegt:

      Dear Ingrid, thank you for your reaction.
      You have many very good questions because breath management is something so many singers are struggling with. Maybe my second post (“what is this thing called voice”) already gives you some information you are looking for ?
      For now I will give you a not too long, and therefore maybe a not complete answer because the subject is quite complicated. But I promise you that we will keep on talking about this subject!

      To start with your last question: breath management and breath support is the same for all singers. But of course it will be more obvious when you sing with a louder voice, make long lines, etc.
      To understand exactly how the voice works, scientists are still doing research. The most recent books about the voice will therefore give the best information, especially when they are written by scientists or singers who work together with scientists.
      Richard Miller wrote a lot of good books like “The structure of singing” in 1986, “On the art of singing” in 1996 and “Solutions for singers” in 2003…he is a singer and teacher and worked with scientists to be well informed about the voice.
      So he will not write about old techniques.

      To be able to manage your breath and your voice in the right way, you need to have a good posture. Keeping up the sternum (breastbone) is part of a good posture.It will help the muscles between the ribs (intercostals) and the diaphragm to work properly.
      To take deep breath we need to expand our lungs. When we keep the sternum high we expand a little bit the upper part of our lungs. The intercostals can expand our lungs by widening our ribs. But, since our lungs are pear-shaped, it will be of most benefit to enlarge especially their low part. Our diaphragm is connected with the bottom of our lungs and when it comes down it will enlarge our lungs considerably. So, to take a good breath, the diaphragm must go down. The diaphragm is in all it’s actions supported by muscles of the abdomen. When the diaphragm and the muscles of the abdomen work in the right way you can feel your sides (flanks) expand when you breath in.
      Just pushing out the abdomen isn’t a garantee for your diaphragm to come down. The correct way to breath low is to concentrate on your sides to expand. When you do so, your abdomen and even your back will move also a little bit outwards. (There is no air in your sides of course, just diaphragm and muscles of the abdomen. The air is only in your lungs.)

      When you bring your diaphragm down, it wants to relax and come up again. The muscles of the abdomen can prevent the diaphragm to go up too quickly. You could say that the balance between the relaxing diaphragm and the action of the muscles of the abdomen is what we call “breath-support”. “Keeping out your abdomen” will not work since the diaphragm has to come up….but keeping the muscles of your abdomen active to support the diaphragm is of course very important !
      So it is exactly as you say: let the diaphragm move slowly upwards and let the air flow slowly out of the lungs.

      You write about “anchoring”. This is a subject that needs more attention then just the few lines I will write here. And although I am master in EVT (where this term is frequently used) I personally do not really like the word because it might give the impression that you have to keep the muscles stiff and strong. And, as I believe, the muscles have to be active, strong and flexible to be able to respond to the continuous changing circumstances that singing brings. On this subject I would like to react later in more detail.

      When you have to sing high notes you need more sub-glottal air-pressure. Keeping out the abdomen will not really help you as I wrote already…on the contrary ! Very soon I will post an article written by Gerrit Bloothooft where he describes the relation of the position of the diaphragm and the pitch of the tone you sing. I am very grateful Gerrit wants to translate his article “Het dansende middenrif” into English so I can post it here on my blog.

      And finally: Thank you for your compliments…! My website is still work in progress…but I will pass your compliments to Daniel Patriasz who is helping me 🙂
      Kind regards !!

      Beantwoorden
  2. Lieve Geuens
    Lieve Geuens zegt:

    Hello Ton,
    Nice to meet you on my blog !
    For some people it might help to squeeze the buttocks together but I would not recommend this to everybody. Every person is build differently and therefore a teacher has to work with the student first to find out what the best posture is for that student.
    Squeezing the buttocks can help to have more action in the muscles of the belly (to support the diaphragm) but it is not always the right thing to do. There are a lot of muscles involved in having the right posture and in breathing in the right way…it is a complex thing !
    I hope I helped you with this answer.
    Best regards !

    Beantwoorden
  3. Ingrid Smeenk
    Ingrid Smeenk zegt:

    Thank you very much for your reply . The mist in my head has disappeared now about the abdomen and support and how it works .I am looking forward to the article of Dr Bloothooft
    about the dancing diaphragm .
    Kind Regards
    Ingrid Smeenk

    Beantwoorden

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