Longevity readers know we cover lots of ground—some new and virginal, some old and well-trodden. Topics can generally be adapted to enhance one’s development in physical, mental, emotional or what can only be called “spiritual” realms. Today we’re addressing speaking and singing.
Voice is one of humanity’s primary vehicles for expression. Birds and other mammals undoubtedly find it useful too. Insects might be chatting about the environment out of one’s hearing range. Rocks are pretty quiet overall; mountains less so. Yet who doesn’t believe America’s favorite genius, Marilyn vos Savant, who points out the necessity for a person to “Know how to effectively voice a complaint or make a claim at a retail store.” More on this aspect later.
How it begins
By 20 weeks of age, the human fetus responds to sounds—particularly, through that amniotic haze, its mother’s voice. It is known that by the time that healthy baby reaches one year, vocalization is happening. At 18 months singing starts, displaying all the characteristics developed in an adult’s singing. “The brain circuitries needed for achieving adult proficient singing are already in place.”
And speaking of development, some recognize that “Due to the anatomical conformation of the fonatory [phonatory] device and their connections with the cerebral cortex and the basal ganglia, the voice is a register as unique for each human being, as a fingerprint is.” One’s voice is unique.
Now hear this
How many of us know how to pay attention to voice? Yes, we hear a voice and the ordinary response—lovely/ooh, screechy/eek, melodic/interesting or pitchy/tiresome—most likely founders upon our emotional state or what we ate at our last meal.
Voice is received and interpreted in the brain at a basic and universally human level. The effect on one’s life and livelihood are profoundly affected by the quality evident in one’s speaking voice—its tone, pitch, rhythm, cadence and how we articulate speech. One’s singing voice is not so different.
“The human voice is the organ of the soul.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Which leads us directly to the Transformational Voice Training Institute of Portland, Oregon. In place about two years, TVTI already has a devoted and enthusiastic, nay, cheerful following. Why? Because most of its students are finding it wildly effective. And TVTIs owner and founder, Linda Brice, selectively grew an outstanding faculty while responding to the voice needs of the community.
Linda Brice envisions TVTI as growing into a world-class school for holistic voice training. Brice comes to this position fully credentialed, having over 30 years’ professional experience teaching, singing and speaking about voice. An academic background includes a Master’s Degree in Voice Performance from the Indiana University School of Music (Bloomington; now known as the Jacobs School of Music) and a doctorate in Systematic Musicology from UCLA. Familiar with classical, popular and jazz music styles, Brice does not neglect any aspect in developing or liberating what she terms one’s “Authentic Voice.”
But I can’t sing!
Nonsense. Unless a person is part of the 4% of the entire human population plagued by congenital amusia limiting perceptual insight, it seems many of us underrate our singing ability. Then too, many of us carry wounds from authority figures or peers telling us we can’t sing or “carry a tune in a basket” and, crushed and silently weeping, we fail to investigate further.
“Singing allows a primary way to connect with something larger than ourselves. It is a tool to allow what is best in ourselves and can deeply affect other people.” –Linda Brice
There is some preliminary screening of students at the Transformational Voice Training Institute. “American Idol” wannabees need not apply, necessarily. What counts is one’s passion, love of voice, delight and joy in singing or speaking and the urge to manifest such joy. Each student sets out on a personalized path toward inner realization leading to enhanced outer vocal expression. TVTI offers a personal and therefore non-competitive environment.
Instruction begins with correct breathing. This is basic to every student’s learning. Brice describes the Institute’s approach as “process- rather than product-driven.” Students, and their teachers, wade through breathing, using yogic breathing techniques, work through personal discussions about fear, learning to use their bodies to yield one’s authentic voice through music mastery.
Every singer begins at Vocal Mastery Level One. TVTI offers instruction up to Vocal Mastery Level Four which leads into Professional Track Voice Level Four. Various workshops support specialized needs. Also available seasonally is a 2-hour free introductory workshop for potential students. (See slide show.)
More advanced students may gain experience through the Institute’s Voice Teacher Apprenticeship Program. This is a part-time one-year residential program allowing hands-on experience in teaching transformational voice.
Classes in musicianship—reading music, musicianship skills, music theory—are also available. No pre-requisites. Alongside the coursework, students can expect to gain confidence in performance while increasing awareness and insight into the less physical aspects inherent to music.
A course on “Inquiry and Creativity” is available to students already enrolled in a Voice or Musicianship class.
Three semesters are offered yearly. The next academic semester begins September 6, 2011. Various times, locations and teachers available. See TVTI for full details.
And sideways: about Marilyn vos Savant’s comment
TVTI also offers instruction on “Cultivating the Voice of Leadership.” No pre-requisite, just the passion, drive and commitment to learn how to speak in one’s own voice and use it.