OK, this will be Part 3 in this series of posts on vocal breaks. If you haven't read them yet, check out Part 1 and Part 2. I'm going to wrap this subject up by letting you in on one of the core secrets of my teaching method.
Before I developed the concepts of the Power, Path & Performance, I had the worst and most un-mendable (or so I thought) vocal break I've ever heard in anyone. My brilliant Nashville vocal coach Gerald Arthur helped me get my voice back after it was damaged by an endotracheal tube (I spent some time hooked to a ventilator many years ago). I still had that pesky break, though with Gerald's help I learned to mask it well and continue on with my vocal career as a session singer, and then a recording artist. Thank you, Gerald, from my heart and soul!
Not too long after I began teaching voice I was given a book by a student who asked me to explain it to him. The author was vocal coach Jeffrey Allen of California. In his book Mr. Allen suggested holding a mental picture of a question-mark shaped path that the voice should take. That imagery opened up a whole world for me.
I began experimenting with what that path meant to me and how I could use it with my students. Long story short... this is what mends vocal breaks every day in my office:
Use your power- your compressed breath power located in your pelvic floor- to lift you into the balcony above and behind you. NOT STRAIGHT UP. You have to lift a little to the back, bending your upper spine to do so. DO NOT LIFT YOUR CHIN. This action should cause you to raise your eyebrows and look like you're about to say "I don't THINK so" very sarcastically.
Then... use the word (articulated with meaning) to PULL sound from the balcony to your audience. DO NOT MOVE YOUR HEAD FORWARD. Notice, you don't pull with your head, your neck or your jaw... you just pronounce the word and direct it to the listener.
Here is a video where I help a singer blend registers and erase her break:
In summary...Your voice should come from the pelvic floor, lift to the balcony above and behind you, then travel to the audience. This path is complicated, often frustrating when first trying to learn it, but it works. If you've been pushing your voice through your break, this will feel like learning to walk all over again. But every one of my students will tell you - it's well worth the effort. Why?
- It causes gives you access to great breath support and control.
- It enables vibration from your larynx to resonate in the open spaces of the nose, sinuses, pharynx, mouth, and possibly even trachea -resulting in rich tone colors and expanded range.
- It causes the vocal cords to freely change length and width, and allows the larynx to tilt freely according to the pitch.
- It makes your voice feel GREAT! You will have NO vocal strain.
- And...it erases the break. Every time, in everybody, if done correctly.
Thanks to Jeffrey Allen for graciously allowing me to use his imagery in my method. You can find his book "Secrets Of Singing" at http://www.vocalsuccess.com . And of course, you can find my PPP cds at http://www.judyrodman.com/power-path-performance.htm .