Feldenkrais for Singers
It is particularly important for singers to develop a highly differentiated sensitivity for their own body; singing techniques are difficult to describe verbally, and the way each person puts it into words ultimately originates from their own individual perception. Although the physiological processes necessary for singing are more or less the same for all of us, because of our anatomy, they feel different from person to person. Moreover, the ways in which they are described, and understood, can vary significantly. The respective physical processes necessary for successful sound production on “conventional” musical instruments are much easier to describe than those required by the complex instrument “body”. The more intimately we know ourselves and our bodies, the more effectively and easily we can find within them what it is we need for singing, how it feels for us – completely individually, and understand much better what particular singing techniques require and what the teacher means by his or her instructions.
The Feldenkrais Method is specially orientated towards exploring the body as an instrument, with all its capabilities and possibilities, as closely as possible. The aims are twofold. On the one hand, it enables us to adjust and “tune” the entire body before we start, just as one would any other instrument before starting to play. On the other hand, it allows us to explore the way we handle our “instrument” while we are using it to make music. We learn to appreciate the complex, subtle interactions within the body, refine the balance between “doing” and “letting happen”, discover all kinds of breathing possibilities and experience our posture as a dynamic support system. This also prevents overworking and overexertion, whose causes can always be traced to the body’s overall coordination. The more efficiently our energy is channelled, rather than being diverted by subconscious postural patterns, the more energy, stamina, confidence and freedom is released for singing and for musical expression.
Feldenkrais for singers examines the way our posture and the way we organise and coordinate our movements are connected with the voice, but also focuses on performance and musical expression. Singers are guided towards individual exploration of the body, enabling them to discover and differentiate between helpful and hindering patterns, and thus ‘let go of’ the latter. We concentrate on three areas: understanding the connections within the big picture that are necessary for a free and dynamic posture (the relationship and balance between feet-pelvis-ribcage-shoulders-head), fathoming out and observing in detail the different possibilities for vocalisation offered by jaw, tongue, lips and breathing/diaphragm, and finding one’s own unique way of interpreting and expressing oneself appropriately in different contexts. In this way, posture, ease of movement, breathing, coordination and efficiency of vocalisation can be improved and fine-tuned, bringing the singer ever closer to their potential.
A significant part of one-to-one sessions involves hands-on work with the client, which means I can cater for individual characteristics as well as requests. Together, we observe in detail how the overall stance and flexibility within the posture feels while singing, and consider the sound production in the face of different vocal challenges arising from the music. One by one, we untangle the habits that impair posture, sound and expression in any way.
In group sessions, different movement procedures that are fundamental for singing are observed and explored in depth, in lying sitting and standing positions, also in combination with the voice.