Sunday, September 27, 2009

What is this thing called SUPPORT?

Sunday musings...

Discussing technical issues on this blog is not my primary focus, however, from time to time,  I will share certain ideas and philosophies regarding same.

Today is one of those days!  First it is important to recognize that vocal pedagogy is NOT an exact science.  And, as a teaching practitioner, reading about something, and DOING it are very different!  You ultimately don't know HOW to do by reading, you learn HOW by DOING.  It is the physical embodiment that makes technical behavior real.

So, with that, I will begin to walk the tightrope of that mysterious thing we call "support".

As every "body" is different, so each has to experience support and its development and variations individually.  The combination of the physical body and the physical voice indicate how the support is developed.  There is not a magic bullet, one answer, or one book, that will develop this for the singer!  The singer him/herself must find the answers!

Information is nothing unless it is explored and adjusted to become individually claimed.

So, if each body and each psyche and each voice is unique so must be the pursuit of how the support informs each!

I believe vehemently that singers are athletes!  And the technical work we do is physical and mental training and in the training creates behavior that the physical, mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual bodies begin to realize as "home".  It is not "put on" but rather, developed and lived in.

As we explore physical support of breath and sound,  we are creating a physical construct for an intangible movement.  Sound is manifested vibration - and vibration by nature is in motion;  Breath is air in motion and while in motion has the ability to give life - and in a singer, it has the great power of moving that manifest vibration of sound to create VOICE.  The physical body either enhances this power, or diminishes it.  

Again, as each body is unique, and where each singer finds him/herself in development, so the support must begin where they are!  There are no easy fixes or quick answers.  It is about trial and error, discovery and work, focus and practice to create physical behavior!

Ultimately we must find strength without rigidity,  elasticity and buoyancy without collapse, flexibility and power without overpowering, anchoring without gripping...all at the same time with a body that is tied to gravity!!!

Support is never done.  Our physicality change day to day - and so our support needs to be acknowledged each day.  Recognition and observation is key to developing this ongoing physical manifestation of our voice's "home", otherwise, we compromise that which allows our voice to sing!

The ENTIRE body is involved in the support of our voice.  We cannot train everything at once, and so being patient to find out what behaviors need focus NOW is key.  

I view support as a strength and an elasticity.  My students hear about elasticity A LOT!!  But elasticity cannot release without being connected to something.  Therefore, I often talk about the physicality of support as an intricate pulley-system of muscle and bone - where something releases, somewhere else it tugs to create that elastic buoyancy that allows for CHANGE and MOVEMENT to embody the movement of vibration!

I believe in a strong CORE.  If the core is not strong, the pulley system will tighten and will not release with power.  With a strong core there is ACTIVITY and ENERGY as opposed to pressure or flabbiness!  Strength is not about push or jerk, but rather, discovering length, movement and balance in the muscles and in doing so, also incorporates the bones that create structure for that system!

If your goal is to develop a "full bodied voice" in the truest sense of the word, then you must developed a full bodied support.  As with ANY physical training, this takes time, patience, focus and creating a training plan.  Physical behavior needs focus and work, but it also needs rest and recovery.  I often use gym training as an example.  Trainers will tell you never to build on the same muscle group 2 days in row; they need time to recover and in the recovery is the development!  Voice and support is no different.  Build behavior so it is reliable and exists without thought.  It exists because you have made a DECISION to build it.

The physical manifestation of support balances, anchors, stretches, shapes and flexes in order to stay pliable for the intensity of your breath and vibration.  As that physicality develops reliability, the intangibles of breath and vibration begin to feel tangible.  And then the entire body sings!

Find out where you are.  Find out what you need.  Read, explore, gain knowledge, learn your terms, find those muscles and what they are meant to do.  And THEN, the real discovery begins!!  What does YOUR body do?  Reading about it will not develop it. DOING it will develop it. What does your body do with your sound and your breath? Have you discovered the differences between tension and release? Between pressure and tug? Between holding and strength? How do you create the best possible elasticity and strength for your voice to inhabit?Can you describe it? Can you change it? Can you develop it?  THAT is up to you!  One step at a time...One day at a time!

1 comment:

  1. Susan, you remind me of something that happened in my Tai Chi class. My Sifu passed by and asked how I was doing. I told him I just didn't understand the breathing and didn't know why I couldn't do it. He whispered to me, "It's experiential."

    Suddenly the light bulb went on. Oh, it's developmental! I'm going to get it by doing it. I'm not supposed to be able to do it yet. Doing it is going to develop it. All the frustration went away, and now I'm waiting, day by day, for it all to shape, stretch, strengthen, lengthen, etc... just like you were writing about.

    But I must say that I also like the back and forth of reading and then doing, then reading some more, and then doing. I read and think I understand, but then I DO, experience, and find out more, and then when I go back and read again, I understand more, and then I go back and DO. Back and forth between understanding and experience. One kind of knowledge feeds the other and they make each other grow. I think this can be very good.