Thursday, July 21, 2016

Some Healing Help for the Voice



YES! YOUR VOICE MATTERS!!

All of our voices matter. And time spent caring for our voices is time very well spent!

Often we don't even give our voices or vocal cords much (if any) thought -- until something happens and our vocal cords become inflamed or in some way damaged or strained. If we've ever had laryngitis, we KNOW how difficult it is to be without a voice, even for a short time.

 And how often do we use our voices just for pure pleasure and fun??

Here is a chance to have some fun with our voices and to help them heal and become stronger at the same time. What could be better?

By the way, these exercises are great for singers, for people who use their voices a lot such as teachers, speakers, actors etc. And I do believe that under use of the voice (as in people who have been silenced or vocally shut down in any way) is as damaging as overuse of the voice. 

Semi Occluded Vocal Tract Exercises

Exercise Number One: The Straw Exercise

We begin with a straw  Pick any colour you want!!!

I've recently come across a very exciting (to me anyway!!) series of vocal exercises called "Semi Occluded Vocal Tract Exercises". Despite the somewhat complex name, these exercises are actually very simple and fun to perform. And they are not very loud -- a definite bonus for those of us who do our vocal exercises in our (possibly not very sound proof) apartments.

From what I understand about these exercises, they are very healing and helpful in the case of voices that have been overused and are overtired from singing or excessive speaking.  I am also discovering,  from my own practise of them and from sharing them with others, that they are extremely helpful also to those of us who have "underused" our voices or had our voices somehow shut down from a young age.  If we are shy or fearful about speaking our truth, or we grew up in the era of "children should be seen and not heard", holding back our voices can create as much or more tension in the vocal cords and throat as overusing the voice. These exercises really help to relax the tension in the throat and vocal cords, as well as strengthening and creating flexibility in the cords and in the voice.

Semi occluded vocal tract exercises work by keeping most of the breath and vocal vibration moving through the body (as opposed to projecting it out into the environment as we mostly tend to do with our voices.

I am going to let the expert, Dr. Titze, who created this first "straw exercise" explain and demonstrate. Click on the link here:    Dr. Titze -- Straw Exercise


The Second Exercise --  THE LIP BUBBLE  

This exercise is also known as the Lip Trill. I just love this exercise -- it is so much fun and feels really great -- energizing, refreshing, vitalizing. It leaves my lips, tongue and whole mouth area feeling light and tingly. It can also get me into higher notes and lower notes than I could normally get into doing regular scales or singing. Initially it can take some time to build up stamina -- the lips may tire easily at first. But it is so worth sticking to and once you've got it, doing scales or even lip bubbling" a song can be a great exercise.

Check out this great lip bubble video.  The Lip Bubble  The bonus here is also some important tips on breathing.

For a little more detail and some important guidelines on doing the lip bubble correctly, check out this link. Lip Bubble Instruction  To get an easier and more correct sound and vibration, it is important to bring the fingers to the cheeks, at the level of the lips (as he demonstrates) and to gently lift the weight of the cheeks up (which he doesn't mention).

If you try these exercises, let me know how it goes.

And remember to love and care for that beautiful voice of yours!!

Barbara








Thursday, November 12, 2015

Getting "Rooted" for Winter -- Through the Voice


Here we are, in the late fall, moving rapidly towards the cold, dark season of winter. We've been watching the leaves on the trees turn many glorious colors and then gradually fall to Earth to become compost.



 As the trees let go of the energy that supports the growth and maintenance of leaves on their upper branches, I imagine that energy moving down towards the Roots of the tree. After all, those tree Roots have to really dig into the Earth and become strong and stable in order to maintain that tree over the harshness of our Canadian winters.

 In the more gentle climate of Spring, the tree's energy will once again move up into the upper branches to support the growth of new life, new leaves unfolding.

What do Trees and Roots have to do with the Voice?

The dark, cold season that we call winter usually is associated with drawing our energy inward and dropping  it deeply into the mystery and depth of our Soul's journey and into our own Roots. This is a good time to reflect and to connect a little more deeply with our lower Chakras. This, in turn, helps us to become more fully present in our physical body.

Connecting with the lower Chakras and feeling more deeply into the physical body and Roots requires a lower vocal vibration. In other words, Fall and Winter are the ideal time to practice those scales and exercises that help us develop the lower range of our Voices. This is the time to play around with singing songs that challenge us to explore and develop our lower range. It is an especially good time to re-connect our voices with our bodies -- as in re-developing an "Embodied Voice".


Dropping the Voice Deeply into the Body and into our Roots

Whenever we sing, sound, communicate through the voice or pretty much anything we do vocally, we are always aiming to project our voices "out there" into the world. What if, instead, we changed directions and explored the possibility of dropping the voice down through the body and even down through the feet into the Earth and into our own Roots? Imagine opening up that inner vocal channel and allowing the voice to become "embodied" or fully connected within the body.

 As infants, vocalizing (cooing, crying, laughing, all those infant sounds) comes from deep within the body. When an infant breathes, the whole body is engaged. The whole body breathes. When an infant makes sound, that sound is supported by the entire physical body. As we get older and muscular tension builds up, particularly in the lower body, our breath becomes more restricted and is often confined to the upper chest area. Same thing happens with our voice. The same muscle tension that  obstructs the breathing also obstructs the depth of the voice so that it becomes shallow, restricted and functions primarily from the throat. A voice that is held back in this way is restrained and unstable. This makes it difficult for us to really experience and enjoy our voices. A voice that is not connected deeply in the body is NOT connected with the Heart or Soul. A disconnected voice makes it difficult to speak our truth, to speak our needs, to communicate with ease.

The Body is the Instrument -- The Voice is the Sound that Instrument Makes

In my "younger" days, I used to play clarinet. I still adore the sound and vibration of that instrument.



The clarinet, or any wind instrument, is played by moving breath and energy through the instrument and the sound emerges through the widened, or bell-like end of the instrument. Of course the instrument is held out, away from the body and the sound is projected outward. Here is the master of clarinet, Benny Goodman showing us how!


If you want to hear a little of his amazing clarinet playing, click here  Benny Goodman -- Clarinet








The Inner Clarinet

Because I still feel very connected to the clarinet, I like to imagine that I actually have an Inner Clarinet -- also known as my Inner Vocal Channel -- which runs through the centre of my body. The wider bell--like structure at the end of the clarinet relates to my Root Chakra. I imagine myself dropping my voice, my awareness and my breath down through that inner vocal channel so that I actually begin to feel those vocal vibrations deep in my body. The voice then can emerge through the depths of the Root Chakra, or pelvic floor, and run right down into the Earth. This image and practice can help create a very connected, resonant voice. A good sound to move down through that inner vocal channel could be something like Ahhh.....Awww..... It can be a simple slide down or, drop the sound into one Chakra at a time from Throat to Root. Later, once you feel well grounded, you can bring the sound up and through the head or higher Chakras -- preferably with a narrower sound like OOO.....(with rounded lips).

More to Come

I will be posting more on this fascinating topic of Re-connecting Voice and Body in the near future. If you are interested in having an "embodied voice" experience, please join me in my upcoming workshop on Nov. 20, 2015

***This will be the final workshop until Spring.

Re-Connecting Voice and Heart

The Centering Space
59 Cambridge Ave. (Broadview and Danforth)
Friday Nov. 20, 2015
7:15 pm -- 9:15 pm
Cost: $30.00

RSVP please barbarassong@gmail.com

**for more info, click on May 2015 in the archive section, or keep scrolling down.

In the meantime,

 LOVE YOUR VOICE. CHERISH YOUR VOICE. TAKE CARE OF YOUR VOICE.

Barbara

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Power of Songs and Lyrics

**For info on my upcomong -- Nov. 20 -- "Re-Connecting Voice and Heart" workshop, please scroll down past the two most recent posts, or click onto May in the archive list to the right.

Lyrics Can Be Deeply Meaningful

  Have you ever had a song go 'round and 'round in your head? Or listened to a song (that you may have listened to many times before)  with absolute full attention and suddenly find your eyes are full of tears or some other deep and powerful emotion or reaction is welling up?

   I believe that songs, even simple pop or rock songs, can often have deep meaning for us in some way. When we are really attracted to a particular song, it may even be that our Heart or Soul are trying to get a message or insight to us. Songs that we are drawn to can often reveal a great deal about us, if we pay attention.

The Historical Power and Saving Grace of Songs

   Just think about the historical power of songs. Songs and music have been used as comfort or inspiration or even motivation in some of the worst and most desperate of human conditions. It makes me wonder -- could those people who had been captured in Africa and brought here as slaves, living in the most horrible, abusive situations, have been able to survive if not for the songs and music that were still alive in their hearts and souls. What could have kept their spirits  from totally breaking and giving up under those conditions? From what I know about the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira, it was literally through music and songs and dancing that this amazing martial art was secretly created and many of those who were enslaved literally fought their way to freedom through this musical, dancey martial art. And how about those who actually did the enslaving? At least one slave trader awakened from his "evil stupor" and begged for forgiveness by creating the timeless song "Amazing Grace".
                
                                     Click here for:    The Story of AMAZING GRACE

   In times of great grief, pain or heartache, many people and many cultures turn to music and song for comfort and healing. In times of celebration and sacred ritual, there is almost always song in some form.

   In my years of nursing and working with the elderly, I encountered people who had such severe dementia that they could not recognize their own children. Some were even unable to remember words or how to speak. But offer them a familiar song and they could sing, by heart, every word.

The Power of Songs to Free Up Trapped Emotion

A Few Examples of My Own Journey Through Songs

    In my own journey with songs, I know that generally when I feel attracted to country songs -- Patsy Cline being my favorite -- I know there is some kind of heart broken feeling deep inside of me. Sometimes just singing the song will stir up that thing that may be sitting in my heart and begging for attention.
                                     PATSY CLINE "CRAZY"

Or sometimes I feel drawn to perhaps angrier or "pissed off" kinds of songs.  Being drawn to sing
Who remembers these???
The Beatles "You Won't See Me" or Buddy Holly's song "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" both let me know that I am royally  annoyed at someone or some situation but perhaps, because of my "wanting to be nice" nature, I may have buried the feelings deep inside and not even have acknowledged my anger.  I know, when I feel drawn to those types of songs, I really have to sit and listen deeply to what I am holding inside. Then I can deal with that formerly trapped emotion and move on to happier songs!!
                      BUDDY HOLLY "It Doesn't Matter Anymore"

                     "You Won't See Me" Anne Murray's Version

 Many songs reflect the "longing for home" that I often feel -- "Sentimental Journey", "Country Roads", or longing for love as in "All I Have to Do is Dream" (Everly Brothers).

                           :"Dream" THE EVERLY BROTHERS

My current favorite song is Karen Carpenter's "Top of the World". I haven't been able to stop singing that song recently! When I took those lyrics deeply into my Heart, I could feel so much -- the bouncy, uplifting nature of the song; the slight "other worldly feel" ("looking down on creation") of the song, the deep love and joy that the song expresses, the oneness with nature ("something in the wind has learned my name") etc. etc. So much to be discovered in one seemingly simple pop song. Not to mention the fact that Karen could sing such a beautiful, happy song in her spirited, uplifting way even as she was dealing with the life and death issues surrounding her anorexia. So much pain in her life and so much passion in her songs -- very inspiring.

                                       "Top of the World"  KAREN CARPENTER

A Song for Every Emotion

In the vast array of human emotion, I would venture to say that, for every possible emotion, a song, or many songs, have been written. Song lyrics are often written as a deep emotional response to an experience.

   The songs we are drawn to often say so much about us and so much to us -- I think it is well worth paying attention. Songs are like dreams. The more you pay attention to them, the more they will unexpectedly show up in your consciousness. It is surprising how many songs, or memories of songs, we all have buried away inside of us. Begin by consciously remembering a few, and so many more will begin to emerge from that inner (perhaps dusty!), song closet.

An Amazing and Fun Exercise for Anyone Who Wants to Develop a Closer Voice/Heart Connection

This exercise is: Great for Singers who want to sing with more emotion and authenticity.

Great for Public Speakers or Anyone who wants to communicate with more passion and emotion.

Great for anyone who wants to develop more expressiveness and strength in their voice.

Great for anyone who just wants to understand themselves and their emotional world a little more.

The Exercise:  Simply take the lyrics of whatever song you are drawn to or trying to learn and imagine dropping those into your Heart. It may help to do some deep breathing into your Heart Centre first. Imagine that you have never heard the song or the melody before, so you step out of speaking in the rhythm of the song. You create your own heart felt rhythm. And then you speak the lyrics. It may help to visualize an audience in front of you and you are telling them an amazing story, or expressing some deep, profound emotion to them. You may be surprised at what gets stirred up. Honor and allow any emotion(s) to well up.  Allow yourself to fully feel the lyrics or the story that is being is expressed.

What songs are meaningful to you? Have fun exploring!!

BARBARA

 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Healing My Voice

**For info on my upcoming "Re-Connecting Voice and Heart" workshop, please scroll down to previous post or click onto the May post on the right.

Healing My Voice
                                                            
My Vocal Fears    It wasn't so long ago that I had no stability in my voice. I never knew for certain if my voice was really going to "be there" for me or not. I never knew if my throat was going to suddenly close down in the middle of a conversation, leaving me coughing and choking and feeling humiliated. In days gone by, my biggest fear around leading workshops or doing public speaking was never around the material I was presenting. Generally I felt pretty confident that I knew my topic. My biggest fear and anxiety was around whether my voice would hold up and my throat would stay open long enough for me to complete my presentation or workshop. This has pretty much been a lifelong "affliction". Like many people, I learned very early on that my opinion or my feelings or desires were not welcomed. I learned to "stay quiet". At school, some teachers would become very angry with me for not speaking up even when I knew the answers to their questions. At that same school, I was not allowed to sing because the music teacher said my voice wasn't good enough to be in the school choir. Mixed messages all over the place in regards to my voice! Add to that mix that I was a shy, introverted, easily traumatized child anyway. That child who was terrified to open her mouth and speak up has lived in the adult me for many years.

Trying to Heal
   A number of years back I encountered the concept of Sound Healing. I found some wonderful Sound Healers -- people who could create amazing and beautiful healing sounds through their voices. I tried so hard to get my voice "out there" like that but the end result for me would be a strained voice and a traumatized me!!! Just hearing my voice "out there" was scary enough to shut me down again.

Creating a Healing Pathway for My Voice
   I am truly grateful that I have, at least in the past 7 years, managed to create a healing pathway for my voice that is working well for me. There are always a few bumps on the road to healing, but that is the healing journey -- at least as I know it.

The Turning Point
   The turning point for me, when I got really serious about healing my voice, was 7 years ago, at age 57.  I inadvertently found myself in a small circle of people who had great voices and loved to sing. At that point, I had never tried to sing in front of anyone and pretty much steered clear of anything to do with singing or Karaoke. The group that I found myself in on that particular evening always did a deep healing process that involved writing. I loved writing so this worked really well for me. BUT.....this one particular evening, only a few people showed up and the decision was made (not by me!) that we would forgo the writing exercise and share songs instead. Well I couldn't sing, couldn't share any songs. All I wanted in the world was to dash out of there. I couldn't do that either. I was dependent on the facilitator for a ride home. So I spent the rest of that evening struggling desperately not to burst into tears. It felt so terrible to be in a group where everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time sharing their songs, sharing their voices while I was feeling miserable and inadequate. I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I was exuding this miserable feeling energy when everyone else was just having a great time.

My First Singing Teacher
   By the next day, after a sleepless night, I knew I couldn't live like this, with such a blocked up voice, anymore. Within a week, I found myself in a singing studio, microphone in hand! The first teacher that I found did get me singing, which was quite miraculous. I still have the CD recordings of me singing my first few songs. The problem I encountered with this initial singing experience was that I could only sing in a high, disconnected voice. I could not get into any lower notes and I definitely did not feel my voice in my body at all. The teacher told me I was a Soprano and I should just sing high songs. This didn't feel right to me. My voice kept cracking as I tried to sing and I couldn't get any volume on my voice despite the teacher constantly pushing me to blast my voice out to the far wall. I couldn't do it.

Getting Clear

   The good thing about that initial singing experience, besides the fact that it awoke my passion for songs and singing,  was that it helped me get clear about what my voice needed. I finally understood, that as a shy introvert with a weak voice, it would never work for me to try and "blast" my voice out there. Clearly a voice that has not been used very much, in addition to feeling locked down in fear, is going to need a gentle, safe, step by step program to rebuild the weakened vocal apparatus (vocal cords, larynx) and this is not an overnight, or one workshop practice.

Bringing My Voice into My Body
   So I went searching for a vocal technique. I just knew there was something out there that could help to heal and strengthen my voice. I knew there was something or someone who could explain my vocal weaknesses and teach me how my voice worked so I could re-build. Voila! I found a technique and a teacher who knew how to help me bring my voice down into my body and how to develop the stability that the low vocal range offers. Suddenly I had discovered a whole new low voice that I didn't even know I had. Actually, "suddenly" might not be the exact best word! It was a step by step process. I was dedicated to my weekly lessons and daily practice. For the better part of two years, my teacher and I worked on developing this low voice of mine. Through the vocal exercises and scales that I so faithfully practiced, I also felt tremendous release and opening through my whole chest. It was a remarkable, exciting and powerful feeling. Even now, I just love vocalizing in that low range and singing deep, low songs.

A Bittersweet Moment
   After the excitement of discovering my low voice and expanding my vocal range phenomenally, I did have to come to a bittersweet moment of realizing that I probably didn't have that "classically beautiful" singing voice that I was hoping to unleash or develop!! So what was the next step for me vocally? What was important for me in my pursuit of a strong and freer voice? I still continue to learn about, and experiment with, singing. I love the practice of and the learning about songs and singing. I'm extremely grateful to have re-connected with the songs and singers and music that I love. But my Heart and Voice, plus all my previous work with Chakras, seemed to be calling me into another way of exploring and freeing my voice and maybe even helping others explore and free their voices. These days, it is feeling very important, urgent even, that we ALL begin to speak the truth of our Hearts and Souls -- even, or maybe especially, those of us who are shy introverts. These quiet, gentle voices need to be  freed and heard.

Re-Connecting the Voice and the Heart
   So now I am all about step by step rebuilding of the voice, strengthening and stretching (gently) those vocal cords, learning how to drop our voices into the body so we can re-connect the Voice and the Heart. And to gently rebuild the confidence to speak (or sing) our truth. Oh yes -- and for that child within who may never have gotten to speak out or sing out, or just make joyful sound, I am also all about just having fun with voice and sound -- however it may want to show up.

   I am very thankful for all the ways and techniques, and all the voice teachers and to my own unwavering determination that helped me find my Path to my own Vocal, Heart Centered Healing.


   May we all learn to love our Voices and to appreciate all the amazing ways they work for us.

Thanks for allowing me to share my story. I'd love to hear your vocal story!

Barbara

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Re-Connecting Voice and Heart




A Gentle Practice to

Re-Connect Voice and Heart 




  Through posture, breath, gentle movement,  some  easy vocalizing through the Chakras and a fun little sing a long, we will explore some exercises to clear and open our vocal channel and create a greater connection between Voice and Body. This work is helpful for developing a more "Embodied Voice"  ** which results in more stability and depth in the voice. As we create more stability, balance and range in the voice, we also stabilize the Chakra (energy) system and the corresponding nervous system.

   We will then have a chance to vocalize, sound and share from a deeper, more Heart Centered place within ourselves.

   ALL the vocalizing and singing we do is as a group. 


A truly embodied voice.

** Infants have a natural and direct Voice/Body connection. As soon as an infant experiences any emotion or bodily sensation, it is automatically expressed through the voice. Of course social "norms" require that we shut down that connection, often from a very early age. Sometimes that shutting down can be so complete that we become alienated or disconnected from our Voice/Feeling expression and awareness. This work helps us to begin the re-connection process in a gentle and safe way.


What Makes This Voice Work Different From Other Methods, Techniques or Singing Lessons You May Have Experienced?

1. First of all, this work begins with the premise that "Voice is an Internal Process" -- just as breathing is, or circulation is. In our day to day lives we  are always projecting the voice "out there" which makes sense because that is how we connect and communicate with others. In singing or sounding or even speaking, it is about projecting the voice out there. However, when we are always projecting or pushing the voice out, we tend to lose touch with that voice and it can become dis-connected or dis-embodied. In other words, it no longer feels like it comes from deep inside of us. And it loses that connection with our Hearts and Our Core. 

Our focus, particularly in the initial warm up exercises, is about bringing the voice back into the body; experiencing the voice as it settles back into our Hearts and our Bellies and our Pelvic Floor. 

2. In this class, you will also learn more about the actual functioning of the Vocal Cords and  the larnyx, and how to re-build and strengthen these very important vocal muscles. Those of us who have been shut down vocally likely do have weakened vocal cords and this work will offer you some tools for healing and bringing more strength and flexibility and relaxation into the vocal apparatus. 



Who Might Benefit From This Work?
*Anyone who wants more stability, balance and depth in their voice.
*Anyone who wants to learn more about caring for the voice.
*Anyone who desires to feel and experience a deeper connection with the body.
*Anyone who wants to speak more clearly and truthfully from their Heart
*Those who feel shy about allowing their voice to be heard
*Public speakers who wish to communicate more authentically and from a more embodied place
*Singers who want to connect more deeply with that feeling place in their songs
*Performers who want to express with more depth and emotion
*Anyone who struggles with the decision making process
*Anyone who wants a chance to free that child within and allow him/her to make sound!

**This work would likely be helpful for anyone who is experiencing vocal issues, such as frogginess or vocal strain or weakness and instability in their voices. If there is a vocal issue, it is important to get it professionally checked out first. 


                                            The Centering Space
                                                   The Centering Space
                                                    59 Cambridge Ave.
                                              (Broadview and Danforth)
                                            (click on link above for map) 
                                                           Toronto 

                                                   Friday Nov. 20, 2015

                                                    7:15 pm -- 9:15 pm

                                                       Cost: $30.00

                                                      RSVP please. 

                                 barbarassong@gmail.com  or call 416-944-0540

***PLEASE NOTE: THIS WILL BE THE LAST FRIDAY EVENING WORKSHOP AT THE CENTERING SPACE UNTIL SPRING 2016. Date to be announced later. 

About the Facilitator: Barbara Sauve is a (former) RN with many years experience in Psychiatry, Geriatrics and Hospice Care. Through some of her own issues with burn out and  resulting health challenges that were not medically "fixable", Barbara began exploring more complementary and alternative healing modalities. She has had a lifelong interest and practice in Yoga and that has led her to a deep exploration of Chakras and Energy Healing. She developed  her own unique  Dance of the Chakras which she taught for many years. Barbara is also a Reiki Master. In the past 6 years, Barbara's focus has been on recovering her own (previously shut down) voice, and as a result, she has also been awakening  her musical passions! Barbara has been studying Vocal Technique, Music Theory and Singing with a variety of teachers and techniques for the past 8 years. Prior to that, she has also taken workshops and worked privately with various Sound Healers and she is exploring Vocal Integration and Heart Centered Communication.

Barbara is excited to be bringing all of this vocal work together in a workshop which is gentle and respectful of the voice and understanding of the deeper process that happens when the voice is activated.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Vocal Fry

   In my previous (Jan. 16, 2015) "Re-Connecting Voice and Heart" workshop, one participant brought up the question of Vocal Fry -- what is it and why are so many people speaking and singing this way now? Since then, I've been on a fascinating exploration of this thing called Vocal Fry. Initially, when it was brought to my attention in my workshop, my only thought and awareness about Vocal Fry was that it was this annoying (and probably damaging to the vocal cords) way of speaking and/or singing. I knew that Britney Spears used it a lot in her singing.

   As an ongoing way of speaking or singing, I think many people would agree that Vocal Fry can be extremely annoying. Check out this great example of celebrities using Vocal Fry in their speaking voices.
                      Great Examples of Celebrities Speaking in Vocal Fry

In case you are not familiar with Britney Spears use of Vocal Fry, check out the following link. At the beginning of many phrases in her song., you'll hear a gravelly, growly type of ahhhh sound -- that is her Vocal Fry. It makes her voice sound small and constricted and whiny.
                                         . Brittney Spears Oops, I Did It Again

Just for the sake of contrast, here is Britney Spears at 10 years old, BEFORE she fell into, or got pushed into, the Vocal Fry craze. This video is amazing and inspiring. Her voice is strong and connected and full. Her whole body leans into the sound. This is a beautiful example of a strong Voice/Body connection.
                          Britney Spears at 10 years old: Amazing Voice/Body Integration


Two Sides to the VOCAL FRY Coin


I have discovered that there are definitely two sides to this Vocal Fry coin. It has its shadowy side. Overused it can be annoying and damaging to the vocal cords.

  Used properly and wisely, it can be a great vocal technique and it can add the perfect expression or nuance to a song or a  voice.


Definitions of Vocal Fry

A simple definition of Vocal Fry is that it is the range BELOW our chest voice. Who knew! I thought bottom of chest voice was the lowest limit in our range. Now I am discovering a whole range below my chest voice. Pretty exciting for someone like me, who, only about 7 short years ago, didn't even have any connection with my Chest Voice. My voice was unnaturally high and squeezed, especially when I tried to sing. Now it is, for the most part, low and relaxed, and about to get a whole lot lower now that I know how to safely practice the Vocal Fry. And just to reassure -- I have not lost any of my top (or head voice) range. In fact, knowing how to drop my Voice into the lower Chest range register has stabilized my overall voice so that my head or high range is much stronger and higher than it was previously.

A NOT SIMPLE Definition of Vocal Fry according to Wikipedia: This is for the technical minded! For a simpler explanation, just scroll down to the link below about Using Vocal Fry Properly.                        
The vocal fry register (also known as pulse registerlaryngealisationpulse phonationcreakpopcorningglottal fryglottal rattleglottal scrape, or strohbass) is the lowest vocal register and is produced through a loose glottal closure which will permit air to bubble through slowly with a popping or rattling sound of a very low frequency.[1] During this phonation, the arytenoid cartilages in the larynx are drawn together which causes the vocal folds to compress rather tightly and become relatively slack and compact. This process forms a large and irregularly vibrating mass within the vocal folds that produces the characteristic low popping or rattling sound when air passes through the glottal closure. The very lowest part of the register can extend in rare cases to 20–50 pulses per second, or about two octaves below the lower part of the modal vocal register (the normal voice).[2]

The Exciting and Beneficial Use of Vocal Fry

   Now, for the exciting news about Vocal Fry. It is an actual register in the voice and can be used in technique and range development. If used wisely and sparingly, Vocal Fry can add a great deal to a song or a speaking voice. Here is a link to a very knowledgeable Vocal Coach, Justin Stoney. He explains and demonstrates Vocal Fry very clearly. He also offers a helpful exercise so we can practice with him. This is Part One of a Three Part series that he has posted on Youtube. Very worthwhile and interesting to listen to all three parts.

                                    Using Vocal Fry Properly


Another Exciting Side Note Here: Vocal Fry and the Chakras


Those who have attended my "Re-Connecting Voice and Heart" workshops know that I do love to create a vocal warm up which brings the voice into each of the 7 Major Chakras (energy centers of the body). Because my focus has been generally about re-connecting the voice and the body, I tend to work with the 7 Major Chakras, those directly connected with and located within, the physical body. I often do add a little moment of allowing our voices to drop down through our feet, into the Earth. Although I haven't previously used this terminology, we were actually directing our Voices down into The Earth Star Chakra, an energy center that exists BELOW our physical bodies, and connects us more deeply with Mother Earth. However, it is only now that I am realizing the Vocal Fry Range is actually connected with that Earth Star Chakra. Exciting Stuff!!

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Now I am looking at that SOUL STAR CHAKRA (above the head) and thinking about The Whistle Range which is actually the vocal range ABOVE our Head Voice. More about that in an upcoming blog!!!
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Meantime, LOVE YOUR VOICES. Keep experimenting, exploring, learning, expanding. Our Vocal potential and range is likely way bigger than most of us have ever dreamed. In the same way that we human beings generally use only a tiny portion of our brain power, I suspect most of us are using only a tiny portion of our Vocal Power. LET'S STAY OPEN TO POSSIBILITIES.

 Barbara


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Song Lyrics and Family Dynamics

John, Julian and Cynthia Lennon
Recently I was exploring some of Julian Lennon's music. In the unlikely event that anyone is not familiar with Julian Lennon, he is the first born son of John and Cynthia Lennon. Julian was born in 1963, just as the Beatles were becoming known around the world. So, with Beatlemania reaching its peak during the time that Julian was just a toddler, clearly John did not have much time or energy for his son. With all the demands of touring, recording, songwriting etc. not much father and son bonding could happen.

Actually the very best account of John's life that I have ever read (and believe me, I have read many!) is "John" by Cynthia Lennon.
                                                                     
John by Cynthia Lennon

 In this book, Cynthia talks about the fact that on the rare occasions that John was home with Cynthia and Julian, Julian never knew if his father was going to embrace him or push him away. John was known to be quite moody at times. By the time Julian was 5  years old, John had left Cynthia and Julian to go off with Yoko Ono. So John was pretty much an absent father and when he was present, it seemed that he could be emotionally abusive. And then he just abandoned his son and wife altogether. As if that is not heart breaking enough for a little boy to deal with, by the time Julian was a teenager, John had another son, this time with Yoko Ono. At that point, John gave up music to be a full time father to his second son, Sean. From a distance, Julian was witnessing all of this since John's life with Yoko and baby Sean was made pretty public.  In the meantime, John. for the most part, was pretty much ignoring Julian and Cynthia.

John Lennon as a teenager
A Teen Aged Julian Lennon


Julian Lennon's Music and Revealing Lyrics
Knowing this story of John, Cynthia and Julian, I then stumbled upon this song written and performed by Julian Lennon. To me, it speaks volumes about Julian's relationship with his father.
                      (Click on Link below to access the song)
                     I Should Have Known by Julian Lennon
Some very deeply touching and revealing lyrics such as "Time and time again you've disappeared and then, you've come home to me and played my emotions."  "I gave you everything, my love and devotion. You tore my life apart. You killed my inner heart. You raped every part of me. You raped my emotions."

I was hit hard by that line "You killed my inner heart." I think most people who have been emotionally or physically or otherwise abused know exactly what Julian is expressing here. That really deep place inside our hearts that craves deep connection and intimacy is often so wounded, so bruised or so closed down that sometimes even love cannot penetrate that place -- even though that may be exactly what we are craving.

The Tragedy of  John Lennon's Young Life
As I was listening to the lyrics of Julian's song, it really struck me that his father, John Lennon, could have written exactly those same lyrics about the abandonment that he experienced from his father, and then his mother. John's father was a sailor who was gone for long periods of time and then one day he just walked out on John and his mother Julia when John was very young (some books say John was 3, some say he was 5 when his father left). Exactly the same pattern repeating itself. So sad, so tragic -- for John and Julian. John's young life became even more tragic when his mother gave him up and he had to go and live with his Aunt Mimi. From all that I have read about Aunt Mimi, she was very strict and unyielding. And John used to beg his mother to take him back.  John's story gets even more tragic -- well worth reading Cynthia's book if you want to really get to know this remarkable and deeply wounded man and musician.

John's song "Mother" really tells the story. It is one of the most powerful and heartbreaking songs I have ever heard.

Click on link immediately below to hear this powerful, heart wrenching song.
 Mother by John Lennon

"Mother you had me but I never had you.
I wanted you, but you didn't want me."
"Father you left me but I never left you
I needed you, but you didn't need me"

And the song ends with the heart wrenching chorus sung in John's wailing voice, a voice that is connected with deep gut wrenching pain:

"Mama don't go.
Daddy come home."

It seems that family patterns keep repeating themselves until we each find our own way out of them -- not always an easy task. Thankfully there is currently a lot of work and research being done in this area of family dynamics.


This story of John and Julian Lennon just needed to be told. I think back to being 13 years old in 1964 when we young teenagers were screaming and fainting and going crazy over John Lennon and the other Beatles, and meanwhile, a young boy was suffering the pain of abandonment and emotional abuse from his famous musician father. It is a sobering thought.


Thank You for the Music!
 I thank you both, John Lennon and Julian Lennon, for the gift of your music and for sharing some of your deepest and most profound emotions and feelings so openly through your songs.

Maybe, if we reflect a little on the story of Julian and John, we may begin to recognize, uncover and heal some of our own painful family patterns. And who knows -- maybe we'll be able to turn that pain into some kind of deeply touching music -- or artwork -- or dance -- or story.

Til next time, take good care of yourselves.

Barbara