Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mindset for vocal breath : Support your intention!

In voice, as in life, one of the major factors determining success is support for your intention.

Say you want to become a photojournalist (which is what my son has chosen to pursue). If you support your intention by learning to be a professional photographer as well as a professional journalist - all of which takes great effort, money and time and dedication to see it through when it is NOT fun - you are MUCH more likely to become a good photojournalist. If then you further support your intention by exploring and finding your unique niche, you are WAAAY more likely to actually become a SUCCESSFUL (financially as well as artisticly) photojournalist.

Many people worry about whether they are breathing right for singing. Many teachers have great breathing exercises, and I'm about to explore a new one I'm learning from Jeannie Deva, because I think a vocal coach needs to know everything there is about breath.

But- to put it in perspective, my professional vocal coach Gerald Arthur's answer to my query about my breathing was this: "Don't worry about it. You're breathing is fine. If it wasn't, I'd tell you". So I didn't, and I went on, under his direction, to more vocal range and control than I'd ever had in my life... enhancing and protecting my reputation as session singer, and then becoming a recording artists on MTM with a #1 record and an Academy of Country Music award among other things.

I say that not to blow my own horn, because its only importance now is the experience and authority with which I can help you. And one of my experiential bits of wisdom is that breath needs to be a natural part of vocal technique. How?

Get your posture right, then get your mindset right:

Just fully intend to sing (or speak) with an authentic confidence that communicates the words and emotion of the message. Then support it from your core with the fusion energy of controlled breath!

Here are some saboteurs of adequate support:
  • You're thinking about communicating, just rehearsing the act but not really doing it. This does not require support. Think of it as cold feet... or just plain chicken :)
  • You're not sure you can hit the note or phrase well. This fearful state stops short of intention... like getting up to the edge of the cliff to dive but then your feet come to a premature hault. If you're not gonna jump, you're not going to support the lift off. On the contrary, you must learn to dive in like there's no bottom to the swimming hole!
  • You're too tired, hungry, sleepy, depressed or sick to drum up the energy to support your voice. In this case you must learn how to choose this energy even when you don't feel like it, or your voice will suffer. (...then eat , drink and get some sleep!)
  • You have a bad habit of supporting from the wrong place... say the throat! (Ouch!) This is when I would advise you to study breathing with a coach who can observe you and re-set your default "modus operande" (how you get things done.) You must learn or re-learn the physical sensation of placing your support just in front of the tailbone at the pelvic floor, where squeezing the tube of toothpaste will result in breath support AND breath control, and the chest & throat expand when energetically supported instead of crush inwards.
The bottom line is this:

You must get to the point where you don't think about breath, where breath is obedient to your mental intention to sound your voice. Come to think of it, this is another example of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. The three-way synergy of your breath, your open throat and your intention to communicate really do affect and magnify each other when coordinated properly. Vocalizing feels natural and easy, and sounds great!

And by the way, I'm very proud of my son, Peter, who has chosen to support his intentions!

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