Case Study: The Singer

Lucy, a voice student at ANU, is in her early twenties. At her age, she has the advantage of fewer years spent establishing misuse of herself ie bad habits, (but the disadvantage of less life-experience). Her singing teacher suggested that Alexander Technique lessons may be useful to her for reducing unnecessary tensions when she sings. In Lucy’s first lesson, it became apparent that there are two key elements in her use of herself that are contributing to compression in her torso generally and limiting the freedom of her breathing in particular.

The first is Lucy’s particular version of interfering with the freedom of her head on her spine, ie neck tension. While the details vary from person to person, we all have to grapple with this; it is something that warrants attention for everybody. In Lucy’s case, locking her head back interferred with her tongue, jaw and throat, all places where tension adversely affects the singer’s sound. The second element is Lucy’s tendency to lock her knees. Again, most of us manage to push unnecessary pressure down through our legs, in a way which renders us less balanced and responsive. In Lucy’s case, bracing her knees was connected to tension in her lower back, which reduced the capacity of her ribs to move freely. (It also caused lower back discomfort.)

Freely moving ribs are essential for a singer! Lucy found that she had enough “processing power”, ie the ability to pay attention to herself, to monitor her head balance and her knees, as she was singing. Both Lucy and her singing teacher noticed an immediate positive change in the sound of her voice – it became fuller and more resonant. Further lessons will deepen Lucy’s understanding of how her voice is an expression of the state of her whole body, and will help her to fundamentally improve her manner of use of herself.

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