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Session with Emma

Updated: Mar 17

We had a productive session examining a particular note, B, on the treble clef, from the song 'Requiem' in Dear Evan Hansen.

Lyrics: Why should I play the grieving girl and lie Saying that I miss you And that my world has gone dark without your light?

My student, Emma, approached me with an issue regarding finding the openness in her sound. Upon her initial attempt, I noticed she was pushing forward, both physically with her legs and by leaning her head forward. She seemed undecided whether to move forward or backward, resulting in a sort of floating sensation. We practiced it several times.

I encouraged Emma to feel the energy move backward, flowing through her heart and upward, akin to a gust of wind entering broadly through the heart and lifting from the back of the head. Although she attempted this, she ended up tilting her head back and closing her eyes, creating a sense of disconnection between her neck and spine.

I emphasised the unity of the neck and spine, guiding her to feel them as one, in agreement with each other, both in terms of energy and emotion. We discussed aligning the occiput and leveling it out, yet it still didn't feel quite right. I believe a combination of feeling the emotion through the heart and lifting through the back of the head is what we're aiming for.

Despite our efforts, there was still some strain, particularly in the neck muscles, though nothing excessive. We talked about the metaphor of water, with strong currents running through the body, pushing both backward from the heart and forward. Emma confirmed that this reflected the character's feelings and her own experience.

I further illustrated this concept with the analogy of a sideways parachute, as if the entire body is catching wind. After another attempt, I encouraged Emma to relax the sides of her tongue, demonstrating with hand gestures to symbolize tongue relaxation.

Recalling a previous technique, I asked Emma to imagine putting a spoon in her mouth and "licking" it without touching the spoon, which had previously helped someone release tension in their tongue. When I worked with this particular person with this analogy, their tongue immediately released. I’m not sure if it’s visualisation combined with proprioception.

Returning to Emma, I applied pressure to GV17, asking her to push back slightly while softening her knees, with her right foot forward as per her preference. This seemed to help her release into the note, possibly due to the resistance of the muscles and a better engagement of her back.

Lastly, I prompted Emma to sing once more while gently opening her palms, aiming to activate the subtle energies that run through the inner arms from the heart to the fingertips and back. Although she didn't fully grasp this concept, I acknowledge that I didn't explain it thoroughly enough.

Finally, I introduced the analogy of a diamond, with DU17 at the top, the shoulders forming the left and right sides, and the mid-back, possibly where the diaphragm sits, as the bottom. We discussed finding natural tension in these points.

I'd love to explore this shape a little more. It looks as if the shape that I visualise takes the form of the Trapezius Muscle. I also see this in a three dimension way. Not just pulling tension between the points but I can sense a space that exists right in the centre that pulls out into the space behind it. The feeling I get is that sometimes the natural 'tension' that stems from these four points, isn't even. That there's preference to one side or a forward til of the head, for example. I want to see if other people connect with this shape. To see if there's a 'kite' like imagery that can be connected to here. And that maybe the kite can catch wind, and the back space can be evenned out a little. It's fairly hard to put this into words.

I then put this through AI to help me understand more deeply the (potential) methodologies I'm using.

  1. Vocal Technique: You're employing traditional vocal techniques such as adjusting posture, breath control, and resonance placement to improve vocal performance.

  2. Body Awareness and Alignment: You emphasize the unity of the body, particularly the neck and spine, and encourage your student to align them for optimal vocal production. This aligns with principles from practices like Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais Method, which focus on body awareness, posture, and movement efficiency.

  3. Imagery and Visualization: You use imagery and visualization techniques to help your student understand and embody the desired vocal qualities. This approach is common in methods like the Estill Voice Training System and the Linklater Voice Method.

  4. Energy Work and Chakra Alignment: References to energy flow, such as feeling energy move through the heart and upward, and applying pressure to specific points like GV17, suggest an incorporation of concepts from energy-based practices like yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong.

  5. Proprioception: The use of tactile cues and proprioceptive imagery, such as the spoon analogy for tongue relaxation, indicates an understanding of how proprioception (awareness of body positioning) can influence vocal technique. This aligns with approaches like Body-Mind Centering or Body Mapping.

  6. Metaphorical Teaching: Your use of metaphors and analogies, such as the sideways parachute or diamond analogy, is a teaching technique often employed in various educational contexts to help students understand abstract concepts by relating them to familiar experiences or objects.

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