karen lessonVivien Mackie, an Alexander Technique teacher who as a young woman studied cello with the great Pablo Casals, quoted him as saying “we are elastic,” that elasticity in the body is key to free movement. This applies to the singer too.

Good singers and speakers know that “supporting” their voice with their abdominal muscles helps the throat relax and open. How you use that support (depending on how you want to express a phrase or the style of music you’re singing) has a direct tensile relationship to both how the cords come together and what vocalists experience as that lovely resonance and ring in “the mask,” the buzz often felt behind the nose and cheekbones. I specifically notice this sense of elasticity between the support and the mask when moving from a low to a high note. It’s that “good tension” that we talk about in Alexander work.

Tension isn’t bad – it’s just when it’s all accumulated in one spot that we get into trouble! The proper shape of the tongue is crucial to whether the voice is stuck or free. That’s why we work on vowels. They are an assortment of different tongue shapes! If you are thinking “ah” and your tongue is shaping “uh,” you are bound to get unwanted interference and effect! We sing and speak with our minds and the body is our instrument. Make sure you are singing or speaking what you “think” you are singing or speaking. That’s when a recording device comes in very handy!