This book addresses singers of all kinds, from professionals to amateurs. It is about empowerment. The voice is different from any other instrument because it is a part of your body - emanating from your core. You are the instrument. The core principle of this book is that joyful and successful singing has a lot more to do with body coherence, vital energy connection and embodied communication than with viewing the voice mostly from a functional perspective. Your creativity and the desire to communicate deeply are grounded in your emotions, your joy, in stillness and in the truths of your vocal body. Attempting to manipulate or force your instrument into a preconceived interpretation or preconceived vocal format often fails to produce the desired results. This book encourages you to experiment with surrender, involvement and body awareness. One of the many benefits of this approach is that it can help to reduce performance anxiety and stage fright. If you want to express with your own unique vocal quality, then this book is for you. If you are curious about your expressive potential, if you are curious about what your next inspirational step might be, this book is for you.
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Jole Berlage-Buccellati – Sing from Your Core
Sing from Your Core
The Vocal Body
In writing this book I am very much indebted to my wonderful teacher and friend Tom Krause. He taught me to listen to my inner voice and to trust the deep connection with my inner artist.
Singing at its best is the fullness of life expressing itself directly and freely in song. Like the eyes, the voice is a mirror of the soul and if the vocal organs are totally free and the voice perfectly supported and carried by a sensitive, powerful and free breath, all the nuances of life will find direct and spontaneous expression in the singing
Bibliografische Information der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek Die Deutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet diese Publikation in der Deutschen Nationalbibliografie; detaillierte bibliografische Daten sind im Internet unter http://dnb.d-nb.de abrufbar.
© 2020 Schott Music GmbH & Co. KG, Mainz
Umschlagmotiv: Lia von Buddenbrock
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Table of Contents
How to use this Guide
PART I – THE VOCAL BODY!
1.0 The Vocal Body
1.2 Basic Concepts
1.3 Basic Contemplations
2.0 The Science behind It
PART II - THE WORKBOOK
1.1 Wake up
1.2 Open your Instrument
1.3 Feel the Rhythm
1.4 Never manipulate
1.7 Happy Face
1.8 Come from above, always from above
1.9 Never push
1.11 Last but not Least
2.0 Life beyond Control?
2.1 Control – An Illusion?
2.2 Open-focus Attention
2.5 Diaphragmatic Breathing
3.0 The Dance with Opposites
3.1 The Core
3.7 The Material
List of Exercises
Who is Who
List of Illustrations
About the Author
EXPRESS, express with every fiber of your body
This book is addressed to all kinds of singers, from professional singers to amateurs.
If you have doubts or blocks about expressing with every fiber of your body and soul when you sing, then this book is for you. If you want to express with your own unique voice quality, then this book is for you. If you are curious about your expressive potential, if you are curious about what your next inspirational step could be, if you want to explore new tools to express human experience and the range of emotions – this book is for you. The core principle of this book is that singing has a lot more to do with body coherence, vital energy connection and embodied communication than with a functional methodology that views the vocal body1 as a mechanical apparatus. This may sound trivial, yet the complex significance of this assertion is often underestimated.
The process is about focusing on joy and a sense of your body, away from concentrating on being stuck or on fixing a vocal problem. Away from comparing your voice with the voices of others and thus limiting your own unique potential.
It is about empowerment.
It encourages you to experiment with surrender, involvement and body awareness. It is about releasing mental constructs and modulating a mostly mechanical, disintegrated approach so as to allow your body to do what is was made for.
It is the feeling that is the power of singing
This book is meant to be a guide to an awareness of your physical and energetic alignment. It aims to help you find a deeper relationship with your vehicle of creativity and expression – your feeling body. This should not be confused with losing yourself in your feelings and emotions while you perform – because when this happens, as S. Hough puts it, it is no longer possible to act the role properly or to convey the play’s emotion to the audience – you have literally ‘lost it’.2 The contemplations and exercises are meant to help you to establish a vocal body that will support you in developing more and more inner certainty and expressive freedom, grounded in corporeal presence and your unique sound quality. It is based on the understanding that we are energy beings wanting to express our experiences through a body that is as fully alive as possible.
Watch for all that beauty reflecting from you and sing a love song to your existence
The voice is different from any other instrument because it is a part of your body – inside you. You are the instrument. And the reality of the quality of your connection with your body determines the quality of the sound you emit. This book is about an alternate paradigm in vocal studies. It is a paradigm “that challenges existing methods of performance delivery, where traditionally the physical has been used only as a supplement to the communication of musical ideas, rather than its creative focus.”3 It is concerned with the question of what vocal freedom truly means in terms of centered being-ness that can deepen your ability to enjoy and express yourself in performance. It is also about somatic awareness, emotional responsiveness and an awareness of energy patterns.
Music is pure dynamics. Feelings are dynamic emotions. To sing is “to dance” with sounds and words
Singing with a full heart and with every fiber of your body requires you to know how to step out of a tight and controlled sound and body. It requires you to overcome prefabricated ideas about an “ideal” sound quality. Singing with a full heart requires you to notice whether your expression or movement is sourced from feeling or mainly from thought processes or an anxious need for perfection. True emotive expression radiates from the “movement – nature” of your inner emotional, mental and physical core.
Throughout this text, you will find references to the “core” and “feeling the feeling”. In a sense, these concepts are the main messages of this book.
Get to know the piece - its pulse, rhythm, melody, words etc. - this is your musical base on which you can expand. THEN, put your analytical mind aside. This book is about what happens next.
NOW get ready to follow the scent of your imagination and begin to express with every fiber of your body.
1 Term coined by S. Reeve (2013)
2 Hough, S. (2019) p. 58 “It is no longer possible to act the role properly or to convey the play’s emotion to the audience. The actor has – quite literally – ‘lost it’.”
3 Reeve, S. (Ed.) Body and Performance (2013) p. 104
Contemplation is a dance with opposites
Contemplation is the so-called middle way: the middle way between meditation and concentration. It always involves some element of play and relaxed observation. Contemplating or being aware of how the body feels and reacts to the demands and challenges we face – and to our truths – carries a deep power for change and joy.
It is a dance with opposites because it requires you to balance your mind and body in open awareness while you focus on a specific question or state. You want to understand (mind) but at the same time you want to feel and possibly also let go of a default way of seeing or being (body).
Body contemplation concentrates on feeling the different states and energies in your body, rather than observing your thoughts. It fits into our busy and demanding lives far more easily than committing to long daily or weekly meditations or “mind games” focusing on a specific problematic issue.
Accepting the challenge involved in moving away from me and my problem, starting from where you are, leads to less friction. It will save you a lot of inner conflict and dialog and prevent you from wasting your energy on “the past” and “the problem”.
Most people are conditioned to staying in their heads and having to commit to “struggling” in order to create change. Be willing to dig deep into the concepts presented in this book, even if they might sound and feel very challenging to you at first. Explore, have fun, intend and feel. Commit to this, rather than to hard work and struggle.
Contemplation is not just thinking, it is a whole way of being
Mindfulness is a similar concept but does not include reflecting on the opposites-content of your actions in the same way. Like mindfulness, contemplation is also based on non-judgement and an awareness of what is going on in your body.
Connecting to your body, your breath and to joy when you want to rehearse or perform is not enough. Your system needs to get used to this kind of “being-ness” so that you can access it easily when you want to perform. That is why some of the exercises can and ought to be done anywhere and at any time.
What fires together wires together – this means that your brain and body will by default always choose the route most travelled – make sure it is one of connection and joy.
These contemplations are meant to get you away from your routine ways of approaching practice situations. Be open-minded about the process and about the results. Be prepared not to expect or to receive immediate results every time. This book wants to sharpen your perception of an inner process.
How to use this Guide
Use the book as a resource that provides different impulses at various times of need. Throughout the book, you will find questions and many quotes to contemplate.
They are meant to spark your curiosity without adding too much new “in-formation”. This gives you a chance to find out the level of your mental and somatic awareness at the present moment.
My aim is not to give you a predigested solution, but to allow you to claim ownership of your own path to vocal empowerment. My intention is to provide you with a map of sorts.
All exercises in this book are aimed at providing you with a sense of open alertness, a readiness to express. As F. Martienssen says: “Relaxation opens a space for basic willingness and is not the target of body work.”4 Too much passivity without inner core strengths is just as harmful as an overly tense body.
You will find short contemplations and short exercises that are meant to fit into a busy schedule or serve as rescue remedies in moments of high stress.
In addition, there will be long contemplations and long exercises. These are meant to be used when you have enough time and space for a deeper exploration. If you like, try them out with teachers or friends.
Audio tracks can be found on my website www.singfrom-core.com
If you like, keep a journal on your findings. Keeping a journal can provide you with an opportunity to track your insights and progress.
In Part II you will find mind maps for you to contemplate. They contain opposites that are in reality not opposites but composites. However, as a rule we are taught to view and feel them in isolation. This limits our ability to express complex emotions.
4 Martienssen, Franzika. (1927/1995) p. 149 „Entspannung ist Bereitschaft, nicht Zielpunkt! / Wenn nicht rechtzeitig die Straffung vom Gesamtkörperlichen hinzukommt, bewirkt Lockerheit lastende Passivität und fallende Plumpheit: also neue Form der Hemmung.“
PART I – THE VOCAL BODY!
In essence, singing is a gesture in sound, expressing emotional movement through the body
1.0 The Vocal Body
Your creativity and desire to express are to be found in joy, in stillness and in the truths of your vocal body, not in attempts to manipulate or force your instrument or yourself into a preconceived interpretation. Body contemplation is about getting to know your vocal body.
Voice and speech training is body training.5 Music is never static – music is pure dynamics. In many respects, singing could be seen as a form of dancing with words.
When we treat the body as an assembly of parts rather than as a coherent, expressive whole, the dislocation we experience from our bodies – actually ourselves – is profound. Fragmentation and dislocation from our emotional and physical core make powerful embodied communication impossible. Sandra Reeve describes musical interpretation as expressing interconnectivity through “an embodied process in which musical communication comes through ‘felt coordinated movement’ ” .6
In this sense, singing on stage can be defined as communicating through a form of embodied interconnectivity. When we feel interconnected, we also feel safe!
Your brain actually perceives and stores information in a way that intertwines a sense of emotional and physical experience. A singer can use this mechanism to anchor the voice, retrieve music from memory and rely on the body when performing.
Practicing awareness of this felt sense of doing something allows you to use joyful and safety-oriented body memory as a secure platform for singing.
Alas, as long as knowledge remains just a head game, your body cannot apply the new insights (thought material) for your benefit. Thinking of change accomplishes little.
Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in your body
Asaro tribe (New Guinea)
Again, the exercises presented in this book are meant to be starting points. Be creative, experiment! Change happens when you start to explore and apply new ways of being.
Questions for contemplation:
– Is this approach a challenge to the teachings of your vocal training so far?
– Have you predominantly been taught to put your body, and especially your tongue, jaw, cheeks etc. and breathing apparatus, in a certain position to enable you to sing those small black dots?
– What did these directions do to your ability to express the emotional content of the music?
– What does vocal freedom mean? As a platitude and for you personally. To me freedom is about having options.
DARE TO INTEND IT
Dare to feel IT. Dare to be connected. Embody IT
Self-confidence has to move away from self in order to be of any real value. If it is all about me then all that’s left on stage is me.7
Self-confidence is radiated and perceived through the body.
In their day-to-day business, many singers feel disconnected from their body, their breath and their ability to express deep feelings and emotions – with no sense of how to restore this “loss of confidence” (trust) and communicative energy.
To restore your confidence as a singer, you need to look at your body, since it is your body that carries the felt sense8 – a physical and energetic resonance, an inner knowingness, associated with the emotional essence – of an aria or a song into the world.
The disconnection from your own authentic expression and body is often so profound that it takes time and commitment to the joys of exploration to reconnect to the natural flow that comes with allowing your body to be expansive, trusting your senses and unique qualities.
This guide is meant to encourage you to trust your instincts and intrinsic power as an artist. Your biggest challenges will be fixed ideas about what technique alone can do for you, and old emotional baggage that leads to disconnection or disassociation from your body. These shadow patterns hold you back from being able to fully claim your power of fully expressing as a confident human being and artist.
1.2 Basic Concepts
A supple dynamic core “is the combination of somatic awareness, emotive expression, and conscious intention that brings meaning and coherence to human movement.”9
What do I mean by core? Is there a difference between the physical and the mental or emotional core? Actually, true core strength is fundamentally a combination of the two. It is your ability to stay present while you communicate with integrity. It is not about control and not about fragmentation – it is about stepping away from manipulation.
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