I received this testimonial from a college singer that I have worked with 3 or 4 times. She has a regular teacher at school and wanted to see me to figure out a few things that just weren’t working for her. She told me about her experiences with some of the teachers she had seen before her current one and the things they told her to do. The basic theme was to darken and make the voice heavier. I found these instructions baffling because she has a totally natural, high voice that is anything but common. Even her speaking voice is high.
But I can see how the limited understanding of these teachers would over-look the starting material. This type of voice can seem to be too small and too light for anything substantial. But this is only true if the voice is undeveloped. As someone who comes from a background of a weighted voice I can say that a voice that is naturally weightless is a gift. Not something that should be changed.
A voice with weight is very uncomfortable and difficult. And her experience is just another example of the backwards state of voice training today. I hope her story can be encouragement for other singers to seek out help if what they are getting is not making sense in their body.
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to sing. I began singing around the house at the age of five and continued to sing pop ballads, jazz, and choral pieces throughout my high school and early collegiate years.
However, I was skating by purely on my own talent and had no concept of technique. I began developing an interest in opera by the time I entered university and began listening to every opera singer I could. Consequently, I began searching for teachers.
The first teacher encouraged me to sing with more chest voice. Although I felt I was a lighter/brighter voice, he encouraged me to sing darker and heavier. Other teachers followed who gave me vague instructions on how to place the sound forward, backward, and every way imaginable. Suffice it to say that when I was not making any progress, they classified me as a lyric soprano and encouraged me to use a richer sound.
This created some rather nasty habits–tongue tension, jaw tension, and a total lack of appoggio.
The final straw came when I had to mouth the majority of the words during a choir concert due to vocal fatigue. I began to truly dread singing. It was no longer joyful and innate; it became something of a chore and a test of nerves. Furthermore, singing had become slightly painful and very, very tense. I’d read David Jones’s articles and was intrigued by the Swedish/Italian method. Through a Google search on breathing and the Swedish/Italian school, I found Michael’s blog, and the rest is history.
I’ve been studying with Michael for only a short while. In the course of these three lessons I’ve taken thus far, I have gained immense vocal freedom and have enjoyed singing again. I have come to realize that singing is truly a reflexive act, not mechanical and rigid. Michael is honestly the best teacher I have studied with. His instructions are concise, clear, and direct. There are no guessing games which leave the student confused or frustrated. Further, he possesses an excellent ear and diagnoses vocal issues accurately, giving the student immediate ways of remedying the imbalance.
As a young student who has been through the university music program and seen the vocal training present in academia, I would wholeheartedly recommend Michael to any aspiring singer, professional or otherwise.
Iris Pang, soprano–Denver, CO