Tips. Where a singer’s sound starts and from what.

What is it the voice sound? Does a voice sounds always the same and having always the same perception of physical work to start a sound?
Sound is a wave, starting from a vibrating source. A trained singer with his memory will have a complex reaction and he’ll have his body ready to make the note required and vocal folds vibrating, slightly before we put the energy and the mucosa wave that starts the sound heard outside (an experienced singer can prolonge this moment of singing without sound for quite a long time and it is something special to experience). Inside we have lots of other structures vibrating, we are not at the zero absolute point so everything in us ocillates,  sometimes vibrating in accordance with something else outside transmitting the oscillation or determined by our specific inside or even a sum of both. A good point to start singing is to just give an internal movement to breath related structures so to have a clear sound coming from our instrument that is generally what is perceived as our voice. The interpreter will make you dream, and have all this incredible effects a voice can have, does not just listen to its vocal folds and big muscles vibrating the note but hears and chooses something more precise perceived inside or outside, and puts the wave starting from this other point of oscillation or its waves to reach it in a summable way so to sum it in his proper voice and so making heard what sometimes we call the invisible that become visible. Truest interpreter will sound on something they feel as something precious or significant or simply with an inexplicable charm vibrating somewhere and just making it being where the wave starts or arrives to give it a voice.

Who am I

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/).2012-09-28-13-15-24
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/2016/09/13/sister-i-another-example-of-my-method/M. 7 years old/ M. 7 anniOne of the participants to my study last year) 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.
It is a sort of way to put everybody to the zero point.

Letter to my students

In italian below.
My dear italian students I told you I will move from Italy and some of yours are in a profound worry and difficulty. When I first started studying singing I went to Giannella Borrelli, I often entered after Sumi Jo or Chiara Taigi, before and after the lessons I heard her talking to agents or to students winning competitions and roles and inviting her to the theatres where they had roles. She was excellent: a thinking, a vocal wisdom and knowledge, the precious sense of colours and overtones, the so many nuances of the belcanto italian technique which regularly come back being the core of every technique that knows about voice. She classified me as light soprano e in our lesson of 8:45am of 45 minutes (she refused to make longer, and now that I also teach I perfectly understand the reason) I had to make a lots of vocalisation till the high Bb5. My classification was wrong, I am a contralto and I yet know it, entering the Conservatorio I left her lessons. I made something I am asking you to do, something I always ask after a certain time together: I acted as the singer I then became, I made what I have always choosed and used as a methodology that rendered possible the points of my careers and now as a teacher. I have always thought she was an exceptional mentor, an exceptional vocal teacher, and the most I progress in the comprehension and teaching of the voice the more I get convinced of that. She was not less excellent for her mistake, it happened I was into her technical blind angle, and it was me who had to actively learn even from that shadow point. She was not less able or refined because of the blind angle (we all have, bigger or smaller), that shadow exists and can happen to be stuck in. I have tried to learn from there, also not going to her anymore, and make what was seeded being nourished for a long time. Not going anymore was the way not to submit my career to her mistake. This is something that I eventually ask you after a time, not to be lazy in something you care about, not to be narrow but generous and right, not to expect others to come to you with their knowledge, but to also recognise and cheer knowledge even when it doesn’t recognise you or when it is wrong about you. I ask you to be artists and generous and the musicians I expect you’ll be, even in the awkward of shadow (and as you know well I create a shadow and put you in there sometimes in purpose to see if have this reaction). I am that generous and wise with you, now I am asking you to act that on me and my moving abroad. I am moving where a school with a yet grown ground will use me, where a research is normal and not subjugated by a system as the italian one. I ask you not to feel abandoned, you know there is Skype for all who want to go on and a sofa in every place I will go. I am asking you to change perspective, to be deeply blessed by my moving, to be enthusiast that I can go build a future that in here exists only in your progressing. Do not feel betrayed or not considered, feel and realise it is the opposite; realise that I will betray you if I remained, getting wasted in my talent and skills for a country historical and social reasons exactly as I would have betrayed and wasted my career if I remained studying with Giannella Borrelli lamenting then of the impossibility of making of me a singer. I usually create conditions to make you do that step, and I am even tough in avoiding you to escape and usually happens solving some deep vocal problem or on stage. I am asking you this time to do thatstep by clear and choose choice. Be the singers and the artists I teach you to be.

Quando cominciai a prendere lezioni di canto andai da Giannella Borelli, quando cambiai orario entravo dopo Chiara Taigi o Sumi Jo e la sentivo parlare di allievi che vincevano concorsi e che la invitavano nei vari teatri dove avevano ruoli. Era bravissima: un pensiero, una sapienza, il senso delle sfumature della tecnica belcantistica italiana che regolarmente ridiventa la base di ogni vocalità che sa quel che fa. Mi catalogò come soprano leggero e la nostra lezione delle 08:30 am di 45 min (per sua imposizione e ora che insegno so perché, mentre io la avrei voluta di 60) consisteva in vocalizzi fino al Sib sovracuto. Aveva sbagliato catalogazione, sono un contralto e già lo sapevo,  entrando in Conservatorio la abbandonai perché sapevo non essere un soprano leggero. Feci con lei una cosa che faccio con voi e che dopo un po’ che ci conosciamo chiedo sempre anche a voi: feci quella che poi sarei diventata come cantante, feci quello che avrei sempre fatto e che metodologicamente ha reso possibile i risultati che ho avuto da cantante e ora da insegnante. Ho sempre pensato fosse una eccezionale didatta vocale, man mano che miglioro insegnando lo penso sempre più. Non era meno brava per il suo errore, ero io a dover far qualcosa per imparare nonostante fossi nel cono d’ombra del suo sguardo tecnico. Ho cercato di farlo e di imparare da quello che aveva seminato anche senza che lo sapessi, pur non andandoci più, e quindi evitando di avere una modifica significativa del mio percorso. Questa è una cosa che dopo un po’ che siamo insieme comunque vi chiedo, ovvero di non essere pigri su una cosa che vi interessa, di diventare voi attivi e capaci, di essere oggettivi e generosi anche quando siete o vi troverete nel cono d’ombra (e come sapete delle volte vi ci metto apposta nel cono d’ombra per controllare che reagiate come si deve). Io lo sono con voi, e questo vi chiedo ora che vi sto dicendo che andrò via dall’Italia. Spero che una scuola con un terreno già formato mi voglia o che un centro di ricerca sia interessato alle mie ricerche e se non la troverò la creerò in luogo meno inadatto di questo come ho già fatto. Come sapete conoscendomi non vi abbandono, solo vi metto nelle condizioni di dimostrarmi che avete imparato e siete in grado di attivare ciò che di meglio vi posso insegnare: ovvero a essere  e mettere voi quella cura e allegria e profondità e disordine utile e a far quel passo che comunque la musica e il palco richiedono e che ci fa ritrovare come colleghi con tutti quelli che finora questo passo lo hanno fatto. In genere vi spingo e vi metto anche incastrati a non poterlo svicolare e avviene con il palco o risolvendo i difetti a lezione, qui vi chiedo di farlo per vostra scelta precisa. Vi chiedo di non sentirvi abbandonati, perché mi conoscete abbastanza da sapere che skype esiste e ci si fa lezione molto bene se si vuole, e anche un divano per chi vuole passare a trovarmi ma di spostare la prospettiva e essere anzi entusiasti che io vada dove si può costruire per me quel futuro che qui è tutto solo nel vostro progredire. Non sentitevi traditi o non considerati dal mio partire, è il contrario. Fate il cambio di prospettiva e pensate che vi tradirei se rimanessi, smentirei quello che insegno se rimanessi dove per motivi strutturali e storici vado sprecata, come avreste il diritto di sentirmi vacua se invece che andar via dalla Borelli fossi rimasta lamentandomi poi della mia mancata carriera per sua responsabilità. Siate i cantanti che so che siete e che vi insegno a essere.

Cossu method: Sister I., an organic damage solved

This is a typical exemple of the results thought not obtainable by phoniatry, and especially  in such a simple and not expensive way.
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 speak, neither sing. 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

Here the certificates with the  diagnosis of hypomotility of the left vocal fold before logopedic treatment (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.   
She had the treatment, very effective with the speaking voice but totally useless for the singing voice.  Few days before the beginning of our work another certificate (06/06/2014 At current control it is confirmed the situation of hypomotility of the left vocal fold, good compensation of contralateral fold) 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.

 

Sister I

Sister I. certificato-ipomobilita-privacy

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 hyopertrophy 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.

suor-i-07122015-privacy_20151207_163547-1

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. You can hear that there is a substantial difference, even if in a subtle way. 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 attack, I know it is the start of having after just to make the folds being trained. She could sing in a little celebration of Sandro Pertini Hospital in the autumn.

 

 

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.

Cossu method: M. 7 years old

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, but for a not collaborative attitude when he feels less difficulty that makes him totally stops collaborating. It was then impossible to make the videostroboscopy at the end of our work, the previous ones were easy and not a problem. Here is the certificate that on november 2016 certificates his not collaborative attitude and that the disphonya is  of light entity and this was the goal. The stuttering is a third of what was before, of course it is  a multifactorial issue  but we could work on a physical part that came from a not connected muscular chain in the voice production and the block of the voice was then significantly reduced.  Also some anxiety toward the speech failure  has disappeared and does not feel as preminent as before our work the failure possibility, as you can see and hear in the video. You can see that even if the singing sound is not really good (but to reach a very good sound need some more time since for one year in my experience you hear the sound of how vocal folds have been treated previously and then their proper sound really appear), you can still see that he is not out of rhythm in the singing order that is simple and direct and that you start hearing the change of colour over the different parts of the tessitura 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 still gaining ring and round in the voice.

marco-fini-privacy

Cossu method: X. Y., singer

X.Y. 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.X. Y. vocal folds 07:05:2014

 

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.X. Y. vocal folds 24:07:2014

 

 

 

Those are her vocal folds after one year after the end of this work, some months after the cd recording. Now she lives as singer and voice teacher, she has a career she had not previously.

Un nuovo allievo

‪Arriva un possibile nuovo allievo. Può essere un professionista o un principiante. Prima cosa trovare il modo di metterlo a proprio agio per ottenere di ascoltarlo cantare come fa abitualmente. Seconda cosa è trattenersi dal pensare e capire e analizzare tutto subito, delle volte può essere corretta e completa la prima analisi ma in genere son le proprie cornici e categorie mentali, di gusto e tecniche a posizionarlo velocemente all’interno di esse tagliando, tralasciando e subendo anche l’ovvia reazione affascinata o infastidita di cose proposte e ottenute e fatte con un diverso settaggio e utilizzo nel sistema complesso canto. Terzo: se delle cose funzionano anche se non si capisce come e perché avere molta cura che l’insegnamento delle altre non le vanifichi. Quarto: chiedersi come essere un utile strumento per il cantante che abbiamo di fronte e non farlo rientrare in un’ideologia accademica, per quanto buona annullerebbe le differenze e uniformerebbe appiattendo verso il basso la vera tecnica che è sempre leggermente diversa su persone e anime diverse. Quinto: chiedersi regolarmente se si sta sbagliando tutto e far mente locale a dei test che facciano capire se si ha ancora un’idea fresca e vispamente utile invece che solo una strada che va in un punto deciso tempo prima e che va ricorretta o almeno ricontrollata come se fosse nuova man mano che ci si sposta dal punto del controllo precedente. Il canto si giudica dal canto e non da idee di come si fa, altrimenti Gould e Richter e Backhaus avrebbero dovuto avere la stessa proporzionale altezza del panchetto e Hari Hoenig non dovrebbe esistere. Sesto: ricordarsi che la tecnica vocale serve per ottenere musica e risultati musicali efficaci senza danneggiarsi e questo è possibile farlo con infinite varianti di cose simili e che il nostro è uno strumento complessissimo e nessuno di noi lo capisce tutto e fino in fondo.