I studied a methodology called Speech Level Singing (no longer an organisation), which was founded by the teacher of musical giants such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Josh Grobin plus many, many more… So I learned directly from the people who taught clients at this very high level, over a time frame of many years.
So those experiences really guided my foundations in teaching Voice. What I find that really seemed to stand out about the technique was the ability to adjust a student’s voice to achieve balance, or power, or flexibility very fast. It wasn’t an approach of applying the same exercises and general knowledge toward every student. Approaches were individualised for each issue and voice type.
The method did raise a lot of eyebrows in the vocal world due to turning some age-old concepts on their head, such as the role of diaphragmatic breathing.
SLS not placing such a huge importance on this – saying, rather that through use of good vocal tract ‘posture’, ie. vocal cord adduction and neutral larynx, then the breathing will naturally occur in the correct way. We don’t have to focus so hard on this! Or perhaps better explained, we don’t need to focus first on this. And I must say, that in terms of singing contemporary vs classical music that I agree.
I do feel that so many critiques of SLS I have read on the internet are hugely biased and not founded on proper facts. There also seem to be many watered down versions of the technique that have developed over the years, and loose interpretations of what it means to sing in “mix”, which was really the point of the technique (to sing throughout the range as naturally as speaking is, by not reaching for pitches).
I now teach “Mix Voice” which is a smooth blend of the lower and upper register.
What is wonderful about mix is the easy, yet dynamic sound through the whole range. And the choice that it gives singers. Mix can be full and strong, sounding soulful and expressive in any part of the range, or light and delicate yet still with a “core” that comes from maintaining vocal cord closure. The sound is bright and natural to each singer, but NOT overly nasal or twangy, which I’ve heard poorly explained and demonstrated on the internet.
Singers like Stevie Wonder just made the voice sound so easy, especially up above the chest voice – unlike the strained yelling that comes from pulling the chest voice up past where it naturally resonates.
From the International Voice Teachers of Mix website: By mixing the chest and head voice you receive the full benefits of “both voices”: the natural and powerful sound of the chest voice, and the beauty and range of the head voice. As a singer learns to sing using both of these resonances and trains the vocal folds to stay together, it is possible to vocalize smoothly and evenly from one register to the next.
So, what’s in a lesson?
Within each one to one vocal tuition lesson, we get straight down to business of balancing and adjusting the voice, depending on what is needed to work on. I use lots of different challenging scale patterns and sounds to help students vocalise and achieve the best vocal alignment. We stop and discuss feelings of resonance (but I never tell a student what they should feel!) and what happens when certain elements are adjusted, such as the vowels and consonants. After exercises, we look at singing and applying everything covered in the vocal workout.
The song should be expressed exactly how the singer wishes. I’m often there to offer suggestions and to generally “tighten up” everything.
You see, there is so much to cover and practise in technique alone. That is why I have decided to open up some new classes to give students the option of where to focus our energy.
I currently have SIX NEW LESSON TYPES going live this month.
CURRENT OFFER: Through March and April, book 3 normal, one to one Vocal Tuition lessons, and I will throw in one of these topic lessons for free.