Wait for the Bus
I spent a week at the LoVetri Institute’s Somatic Voicework™ workshop in Berea, Ohio at the end of July. It was like summer camp for voice teachers (no joke!).
“Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method is a body-based method of vocal training which draws from many disciplines. It is based upon voice science and medicine as well as traditional classical vocal training, complementary modalities such as yoga, movement, dance, acting, and speech training, and various bodywork approaches. Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method is meant to unselfconsciously draw the mind of the singer into the physical process of making sound.”
Amazing, right? Right.
Jeanie LoVetri is this tough as nails woman who is well-informed, opinionated, and who won’t often take no for an answer. (From her anecdotes, I’m not sure she’s ever taken no for an answer). She is smart, compassionate, and one of the most patient people I have ever met.
The Institute offered three levels of certification as well as a few post-level III classes across 9 days. I had the opportunity to take Level I in 2016 in Chicago, which taught me many valuable skills for listening to a voice and working in styles that are beyond “classical”…. but truth be told, this work taught me so much about working in the classical style as well.
I walked in to the first day of Level II with a healthy level of skepticism. But by the end of the second day I was completely sold… I was “drinking the Kool-Aid,” if you will, and here are three reasons why:
- FOR THE SCIENCE! Somatic Voicework™ uses vocal function as the basis of vocal technique. Voice science has advanced exponentially in the last few years, so why not use our science-based understanding of the instrument to teach singing instead of teaching just how we were taught? What a concept!
- PATIENCE! Jeanie teaches us to “wait for the bus.” I was thinking… but what does that mean? That means, the instrument will generally figure out what it needs to do, so long as you (the teacher) are using pointed exercises to accomplish a task. In our age of instant gratification, I find myself rushing through exercises, giving constant adjustments, and accepting the first sign of improvement as success. No, no. The idea is to live within the exercise until the instrument starts to accept the new default. Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it takes a while, sometimes it doesn’t happen at all. What the change doesn’t happen, that’s when I (as the teacher) know that the exercise might not have worked.
- ALL STYLES! As a “classical” singer, it’s imperative for me to also sing musical theater. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love it, but I have struggled to sing crossover rep easily. It always seemed to be a great task to switch from one to the other, and inevitably, I always sounded like a “classical singer” trying to sing musical theater. Back to Somatic Voicework™. With a greater understanding of teaching and applying functional voice, the styles of singing become much closer together. Vowels are just vowels, registers are just registers, breath is just breath. With a mastery of vocal function, and an in-depth knowledge of style, a singer can quickly and easily go from one genre to another.
In my own practice, I continue to work through balancing my registers to find mastery over function. I focus on recalibrating my middle voice so I can easily maneuver through my passaggi. I am using the tools of the trade, backed by science, to reset some habits, and I am taking a deep dive into other styles so I can better sing and teach those styles.
My goal is to perform, and sometimes, as a singing teacher, I feel a little beaten down in the fact that I am “stuck” teaching others to do what I want to do. It’s a tough place to find oneself, and it’s a tough place to get out of without a bit of help. Working with Somatic Voicework™ this summer has reminded me why I love teaching. It has given me some new tools and has refreshed my ears. It has reminded me that beautiful things take time, and that is okay.
So, here I sit, waiting for the bus.