Training the voice is a complex work of opposite forces, and it does not work with the simple opposition of opposite muscles. We can think in a more complete and refined way putting the opposition on the functions so to work in some parts or in all the muscular chains and obtain not by luck all the different possibilities of voices and not strain or remain with a too limited voice.
If you are a boxeur or a sprinter will you train just in a relaxed and smooth way, as for example doing only Tai Chi? Relaxation can be useful and even fantastic as Tai Chi, but it is one of the tools possible and useful in voice training and it does not serve all the required purposes for professionals and performances or certain styles. Music and repertoire are made of different rhythms and accents and strenghts and if we do not train the system voice in a rational and precise way to be the perfect image of the music we are going to perform we will have a problem. Of course how to do that and from where and by what passages develop strengths and speeds requires great care and wisdom as in every training, but the answer always smooth and legato and relaxed is not the answer correct.
What nice to talk with a former student who has an interesting view on our work and my method from his medical job; and so nice that not only he is smart as he was but his band will get back rehearsing. Thank you Alex, still pleased of having had you between my students.
My first two talks on some fundamental questions of vocale technique, often not so clear in students and singers and not clearly explained through their effects and consequencies so that they remain scary and refused in the first step. Often they are related as the fact that when you cover the sounds you will have in your sound not the effect of copertura but the disclosure of the state of your sustain and appoggio. I mean that not covered sounds have a different kind of pressure from the effective and true sustain (a true sustain always have a copertura effect), so you cover and the vocal folds do not respond anymore to the excess of pressure not correct. You will immediately hear how much the correct and true sustain is developed and the really good news is that with copertura it is safe and not tricky to develop the effective and true sustain. So if you refuse covering you will probably never develop a real and effective sustain, and this just because you were scared by the sound after copertura that was just the first step of the process and not the arriving point of the process. Many things in vocal technique present this two step process, I will try to clarify some of those for you on Istagram in my IGTV.
And the first is on copertura. 🙂
A little talk with the great italian singer Eleonora Bianchini and why a professional like her, ranked 4th italian jazz singer, a stable duo with Enzo Pietropaoli, great career, winner of a merit scholarship at Berklee College, came having lessons with me. What did she found in our work, why it was important to her. Enjoy!
I am someone who can solve the reason why some people can’t be effective in a vocal technique or style, or when a professional can’t have the full or correct use of its instrument even with excellent teachers or coaches. I was a soloist and being trained in Italian Belcanto technique. A chronic disease that affects my inflammation level in the body related to a medical malpractice made my career last just three years during which I achieved goals I even had not dreamt about (further details https://luciacossu.com/about/).
I started then teaching, vocal technique. Being frustrated by seeing some structural issues that made some singers think about them and never relax into a deeper dialog with music I tried to found ways to solve them forever with the same approach to sound I had when I was a soloist. So I invented some physical exercises and discovered in what they were useful to a wider range of persons, even if invented on someone specific. This became a corpus of exercises, some totally invented by me, some are yoga or dance exercises modified to be useful for voice muscular chains. I have so found some principles to work on the reason why some can’t have a proper vocal technique even with good teachers. I found the relation voice-muscular chains in a way not imagined by professionals and now also the way some Manuel Garcia vocalises were intended and why even my excellent belcanto teachers couldn’t use them correctly. . It is a very specific work, nothing to do with others body practises for singers, useful but less precise for a vocal purpose. To be sure that the results with my students were really appropriate I put some people with and without vocal problems under medical control before and after our work together and it was confirmed the solution of their vocal problems in very short time, while a medical prevision of no improvement possible (https://luciacossu.com/cossu-method-program/ ) and those with no issues had confirmed an improvement in voice and posture.
When I say it is new I don’t mean that my work comes from nothing and goes to a new land, no. I mean that it is a step forward in what is the italian belcanto technique. I mean that it brings to the vocal land many that couldn’t previously reach it. And those who are yet there have a way to refine and obtain more.
That it is: a way to bring to voice (and voice styles and technique or even just natural voice) those who couldn’t before and to refine and find tools and expression for the advanced and the professionals.
It is a sort of way to put everybody to the zero point.
Sister I. entered my study program in june 2014. Sister I. had an important surgery to save her life, a thyroidectomy in october 2013. After she had problems with the voice, she could not easily speak, singing impossible. She used to sing in her convent, many times every day and also as a soloist. She had a beautiful clear and natural voice, not trained and had some stuttering when child. She had calcium levels very low and they remained low durign the program and after. Now she sings again and as soloist as if she had never had any voice problem.
Here the certificates with the diagnosis of hypomotility of the left vocal fold before logopedic treatment and still the same hypomotility after but but a good compensation gained, singing still impossible for her.
*01/28/2014 Tyrodectomy on october the 3rd 2013, since dysphonia, and slight dysphagia for liquids. Negate having other noteworthy patologies. Fibrolaringoscopie: Normal cordal morfology. Hypomotility of left vocal fold. Inadequate compensation of the contralateral fold. Normal respiratory spaces. No smoking. Require a tenseabductive phoniatric treatment.
After logopedy * 06/06/2014 At current control it is confirmed the situation of hypomotility of the left vocal fold, good compensation of contralateral fold
It confirms the hypomotility of the left vocal folds but now a good compensation of the other side. She had very low calcium level from the operation till several months after the last certificate you found at the end.
After #cossuprogram. During she could get back singing every day and in some Those are her vocal folds in photo and stroboscopy after nine months since we stopped our work. No maintainance exercises, no further therapies. As nothing has never happened to the left fold. The certificate confirms that * Fiber optic laryngoscopy: True vocal folds normal in morphology, slight hypomotility of the right vocal folds, slight hypertrophy in the posterior closure as for suspected reflux. Stroboscopy: regular vibration, simmetrical and of normal amplitude.
And since our work Sister I. sings every day and again as a soloist as before the surgery. In may 2017 Sister I. wrote me that she had been the soloist of the Litany of the Saints during a Solemn Profession in the Basilique of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Porziuncola (Assisi). As nothing never happened to her left vocal fold, joy.
We could make the left fold work again after three weeks and in the video is her voice the first meeting and after 5 weeks. Professionals will hear that there is a substantial difference, even if in a subtle way since it has to get some training back after one year and a half of hypomotility. You can hear the gain in the ring, a little glow on the sound, a more clear timbre that starts appearing. This to me is a truly important sign and telling me that the vocal folds start having a correct activity, I know it is the start of having after just to make the chord being trained. She could sing in a little celebration of Sandro Pertini Hospital one month after the end of the program.
M. is a 7 years old boy who entered my three months study program.
Those are his vocal folds in November 2015 and a week before we started my program. Kissing nodules, hematoma, deeply dysphonic, with also a problem of stuttering; three years of logopedic treatment with no significant results.
In the video shown below his sound at our third meeting and after a couple of months. At the end of the video you can hear him one year after the end of our work that give an idea of his speaking voice and the clearness he reached with no further exercises (it is usual in my experience that when we correct the vocal gesture the sound will have a year to really change in timbre and density).
He was a very difficult student and not for the age; he had a not collaborative attitude, I thought that the difficulty in not feeling of having a voice to express himself for such a long time could had some responsibility in this attitude, but as you have seen the program worked even if he never made an exercise at home and the sessions were half long the others. Since he felt less difficulty he tried to totally stops collaborating and never made an exercise at home. At the end it have been impossible to make the videostroboscopy, the previous ones were easy and not a problem. At the end of the three months program the stuttering was reduced to a third of what was before, I worked on a physical part that came from a not connected muscular chain that I found related to voice production and the blocking in voice attack were reduced. Also some fear and anxiety I felt in him towards the speech failure was reduced and not felt as preminent, as before our work, he truly enjoyed his theatre performance at school and said his phrases with no problems. You can see that the singing sound is not really good (but to reach a very good sound it is requiered a longer time since in my experience for another year you hear the sound of how vocal folds have been treated previously and then their proper sound really appear), but you start hearing the different registers and the copertura and vocal abduction instead of air and that the singing order is simple and direct as in not patological voices. The speaking voice is clear and easy. Enjoy a little boy who can speak with less fear of failure, enjoy his theatre course and sing with great margin of improvement. And after one year he is stable and still gaining ring and round in the voice.
She is a singer who entered my study program in may 2014 with nodules, a pre-contact, an emathoma and a whiplash injury on the vocal folds. She had several years of voice lessons without gaining enough extension or intonation or the personal style she desired for a proficuous career. All the attempts to have a good technique (even with good and experienced teachers) were a failure, gaining something at the depens of other things and her vocal folds getting worse. This were her vocal folds when she started the program.
I found in her something in the muscular chains (that are the center of my method) without the sufficient elasticity and the proper work to give freedom and movement to tongue and larynx. The first weeks I used the physical exercises I have invented to start solving that muscular problem. As the connection was possible and more correct I worked on changing habits in authomatic gesture, imagined gesture and the feedbacks with vocalises on two octaves and songs out of her repertoire useful for my purposes. Those are her vocal folds after two months, quiet a huge difference.
Here her vocal chords after one year (you find them also at the half in the video above).
A.A.A.: reclutamento di persone per uno studio scientifico sul lavoro tecnico che svolgo su certe muscolature nelle mie lezioni di canto e i risultati che ritrovo costantemente. Lo studio è condotto in collaborazione con un foniatra e un osteopata.
Consiste nel fare un paio di lezioni a settimana di canto per tre mesi, riprese video delle stesse, controllo foniatrico e osteopatico regolare, accettazione della liberatoria al loro utilizzo per fini pedagogici e scientifici, impegno a non saltare le lezioni e a svolgere gli eventuali esercizi richiesti (per un massimo di 15 minuti al giorno).
Tipologie richieste: età compresa tra i 10 e i 55 anni, problemi vocali non di origine neurologica non risolti; cantanti professionisti con problemi da sforzo o di intonazione o non soddisfatti del tutto di quello che fanno; attori preparati vocalmente; stonati.
Lo studio si svolgerà a Roma, sarà completamente gratuito (ovviamente) e avrà una sede a Roma nord, una a Roma centro e una a Roma sud e dovrebbe svolgersi a breve, secondo caledari concordati con i partecipanti. Il numero non sarà altissimo e cerco tre categorie precise, per cui dovrò fare una selezione.
If you find in a guitar dismantled, some piece unglued, some screw too tightly fastened, the strings not properly fixed do you expect it to sound well? do you think to play it? Are you surprised if it doesn’t sound properly? And if you have never played a violin do you find correct to judge your ear and musical capacity by playing it? Voices are like those two examples. Even when you don’t see anybody walking with his head in his hand or a leg round his neck, this doesn’t mean that his body is properly assembled to sing, or according to the second example he does naturally good and proper things to play his instrument. Some very lucky are yet properly settled and do some very right things just naturally, others not, sometimes due to simple injuries or bad habits.The worse is the judgement deaf-tone voices; I have experimented people who have submitted to, and the consequent shyness that render them more shy and uneasy in the regard of such a joyous instrument as voice is, and the consequent lack of the necessary energy and body attitude added to the problems that renders those voices out of pitch. Sometimes they also think having a bad ear and a bad musical brain. It is always possible but in my experience it had no relationship with a tone deaf voice. Tone deaf voices I have worked with, were mostly a bad shaping body, as the first example and when we properly set up they were no more tone-deaf voices, but only voices who had to learn how to sing. Some, very few in the second. To start with the ones of the first example I usually put them in a possible shape for singing (I explain that hereinafter) and I don’t ask them to match a pitch, but just to imitate me. If I put them in the condition of vibrating and I produce a good sound for them by passive attitude they will start vibrate according to one of the overtones in my sound, if possible to their body the easiest one, the correct pitch I wanted, if yet impossible something normally not that far in very little time. To make it possible there are many simple and less simple exercises to give the minimal elasticity and shape of a possible correct sound. I have to play them for the first period as the second range strings of a viola d’amore. The Viola d’amore was an ancient viola with a double range of strings, one under the other. The player played the upper range and the other vibrated according to the superior “per simpatia” was said, by sympathy. What is nice in that passive way is that the lack of tension to match a pitch will live the body smooth enough to simply let itself being changed and shaped by the teacher and vibrate. In that way they have the experience in the body of a sound less incorrect, a feeling to remember, a feeling to relate to look for sounds and pitches, a feeling and an experience that will feed body and brain and give a quiet and easy sense of comfort while producing sounds. The body and the brain will remember those feelings and will reproduce the same patterns while you will play less and less for what is acquired and as before to obtain more difficult and complex things. The teacher has the necessity to understand well the inside shaping of the student. What renders so difficult to understand what and how is badly set up is the fact that we don’t see the elements of our instrument, they are for the most part inside and very rarely we can feel it before having made a work on them, so how can a teacher know what to do? And how to do if the person doesn’t even feel the existence of he has to move and change? A good teacher and a good singer should be able to feel in himself what is happening in the student, but I think that on that subject the teaching world should think about developing proper methodic to deal with, and that’s why I talk about voice luthiery, a field to explore and develop. I can usually feel how they are shaping themselves, because I let my body being guided by their shape and opening the same communicative channel of musicians I can make them take the shape I am assuming. This shape I assume and want them to imitate must be not that far from the shape they have and at the same time they must have the elasticity to assume it. I mean that I have to assume me their shape and then to ameliorate it in a suitable way. To give them the elasticity I make them do some simple and less simple physical exercises. To maintain that elasticity and not make an intellectual control that will use movement pattern yet existing and not useful I ask them to lay together as children: I do they do, I do they imitate without thinking or analyzing my voice or sound or movement. When we think I experienced that some part of the body will get stiff and than it will be impossible to sing correctly without being yet nearly a singer. We can think before and after, not during.The exercises I give to the student will give the correct shape and strength or the necessary soft to all the body’s parties, and work on the coordination of the single parts. Singing is a complexe activity and we just have to render the brain and body in the possibility to execute that complexe coordination.