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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Sandy Andina Speech Level Singing (42) RE: Speech Level Singing 14 Mar 06

I started out for five years in the 1980s studying the Stanley Method--it "built" my voice in half the time of conventional techniques, and allowed me to develop a natural vibrato where I had a strained and stright tone but I am convinced that its physical manipulations may have caused vocal damage. Decades later, I was appalled that my voice had a distinct lack of edge and clarity--not quite hoarse, but sort of "cloudy." I knew I needed to resume lessons--use it or lose it--but did NOT want to go to a teacher of "legitimate sound" technique (i.e., opera, art song, Broadway). I found a SLS teacher here in Chicago who broke off from Seth Riggs. The goal of Speech Level Voice, as he calls it, is NOT to consciously "place" any part of the vocal anatomy--it is to learn to sing naturally with enough vocal support and lack of constriction of muscles that don't need to be involved (kind of analogous to Bradley-method childbirth), so that the registers (head & chest) integrate, there is clarity to the voice, and vocal fatigue is no longer a problem. Also, the goal is to produce clarity and expression without belting or excessive volume due to pushing exreme amounts of air.This teacher immediately noticed the "cloudiness" I was concerned about and referred me to a singer-specific ENT (the "team physician" for the Lyric Opera) for laryngoscopy to rule out pathology like nodes or polyps; he suspected a "bowed vocal fold," and the ENT confirmed it--caused not just by years off from singing, by abusive exercises and manipulations, and by working alone and not talking often; but also by pickling my larynx in stomach acid for years. Treating my GERD made a dramatic difference; and the exercises designed to strengthen my chest voice and make my head voice less hooty brought me vocal clarity and made vocal fatigue a thing of the past--my voice gets stronger and paradoxically more relaxed as the gig goes on. I do not sound operatic or "poppy;" my teacher is extremely open-minded and respects his students' preferred styles and does not try to force them into the B;way/classical or R& B molds. After 3 years, I now sound like a clearer version of myself, and can sing much longer than before. I can sing far more effectively at a much lower volume than even those around me. Oh, and my teacher also believes Riggs, while a pioneer, has deteriorated into a caricature of himself and has become a venal ego-on-legs.

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