My Mind Is Open and My Mind Is (Slightly) Blown.

Firstly, forgive me for it has been a very long time since my last post.  I could write about what I have been doing but I just need to say about what I did at the weekend.

I hosted some workshops. The page about the Workshops.

It all started because I went to these workshops last November and I found it really interesting.  The teacher lives in New York but visits London a couple of times a year.  I asked my students, and anyone else, if they were interested in attending and, as they were, I booked it and set it all up.

The first time I did the workshop I understood, (by which I mean I didn’t feel utterly baffled by), parts of it.  There were also bits I really didn’t “get” and bits that felt interesting.  It felt like something that I couldn’t find elsewhere in the UK and so I felt it was something to bring here.  My instincts were right.

Last weekend I participated in the beginners workshop twice and the intermediate one once.  I also had a one to one lesson with Jonathan for an hour.  Since that time I feel completely different.  I feel a bit like I’ve been born again and I don’t say that casually.  I am a born again singer with a new appreciation of my voice.   I didn’t feel this way the first time I did Jonanthon’s work but this time I did.  I know that one person in the group said that she has realised her voice belongs to her, after many, many years of feeling it didn’t.  I saw 2 students who are usually quite contained let out enormous sounds.  I saw transformations in some singers.  Others maybe had food for thought and it wasn’t the right work for others.

I am still very interested in the physiological/anatomical side of voice.  I still have a burning desire to know everything, (with the understanding that only ignorant fools think they know everything).  But I see that there is also another way.  I want to understand both ways.

This approach is about feeling sympathetic vibrations in your body, feeling the voice to come from a different place in your body, unlocking blocks, both physical and mental, becoming friends with your voice.  The work starts in the body and the imagination. I know that this isn’t the official definition of the work but essentially it is about making friends with your voice and appreciating it.  I am aware that it’s not for all people although it is familiar to me in terms of the work I did on voice in my training as an actor.  I have never been taught this way as a singer or a training singing teacher.

My recollection of the work of Stanislavsky is that he started his training as an actor by exploring emotions and how they effect the body.  Using the emotions as the starting point.  Then he changed his approach and looked at what the body does and how the emotions respond.  This felt that it was based on the latter approach.  It felt so real.  I saw people let Jon control their arms and unlock emotions that none of us knew were there.  From the physical to the emotional and the voice was simply free.

The current approach that I see in voice work starts with impressions of sounds and then the singer becomes familiar with the physical response and replicates it.  In this workshop I saw people make truly primal sounds.  Not sounds that are impressions of primal sounds but real, primal sounds.  And there was nothing indulgent or showy.  There were genuine human reactions to the work that they were doing.

I also learned things about myself as a person but that’s not for here.  So far I have found a free voice that has an extra couple of notes at the bottom and went straight through with no break at all.

I wish I could study this further, alongside the physiological approach.  I am sure that I will and when I do I’ll do my best to remember to blog about it and share it on here.

For now I have voice books to read, acting books to read, anatomy books to read, and I guess there’s a small matter of preparing to conduct 500 singers at the Symphony Hall this Sunday.