#2  The Holistic Singer

Janice Chapman has written a wonderful and comprehensive book on singing titled “Singing and Teaching Singing” subtitled “A Holistic Approach to Classical Voice” in which she, along with comprehensive chapters on anatomy, physiology and pedagogy, considers the tremendously important concept of the singer as a whole person (i.e., body, mind, spirit, emotion, and the voice).  It was refreshing to read a point of view that included so much about the integration of the WHOLE person in the act of singing.   

One idea she brings up that I found very interesting was the notion of primal sound, and how it’s supported, and how it relates to singing.  If you consider our innate natural expressive language of sounds; sighing, weeping, moaning, laughing or calling out, you’ll notice that all these sounds are easily recognizable in some form of song. Chapman proposes that the enervation that produces the proper support for those primal sounds will be also be the correct enervation and subsequent support for their musical counterparts. 


Try this:

Walking around to keep the body free, place your hands on your ribs and make an audible sigh.

Notice (1) the expansion of the ribs that occurs in preparation, followed by (2) the gentle suspension of the ribs just prior to sighing, and (3) as you sigh, the gradual release of air, followed by (4) the complete relaxation of the support and breath following the primal sound.

Now continuing to move, make a singing sound in the same range and same general musical shape; a downward octave slide. 

Next, alternate between primal sound and sung sound.  Notice the similarity between the feeling of the support sequence for the primal sound and for the sung sound. 

Experiment with moaning; its musical counterpart being a legato rising and falling phrase, laughing; its musical counterpart a staccato pattern, and calling out; its musical counterpart a downward minor third.    

Continue to notice the sequence of actions in your support; expansion, suspension, gradual release, followed by complete relaxation.


Have a very fine week,






Copyright © 2010 by Sarah Oppenheim-Beggs