I have decided to go with The Potent Voice as a banner under which to gather together the various aspects of the whole-self voice-work that I have been honing and refining over the last 30 years – its essence is fully grounded in The Feldenkrais Method and thus the name feels right…
There are many overlaps with my Feldenkrais meditation work, as the benefits to the health of our nervous system generated by sustaining vocal sounds and focussing our attention on those sounds as we make them has been recognised by science, thanks to the pioneering work Dr Stephen Porges and his ground-breaking PolyVagal Theory of mammalian neurobiology.
If you are not aware of Porges theories this film is a useful introduction – he details the relevance of extending our exhalation, the importance of attentive listening, and the healing potential of music, from around 23 minutes in, but watching the whole film will make all of his ideas much clearer still.
Of course those of us who love to sing don’t need extra evidence to encourage us, but the science behind this valuable self-healing tool is fascinating, and the ramifications are huge, so I will be writing more about it, as and when time allows.
My Potent Voice training combines Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® with the state-of-the-art vocal training techniques that have emerged in recent years, thanks to the more refined observational equipment available to modern vocal science. My intention is to enable anyone who wishes to develop a flexible, strong, healthy, authentic self-expressive voice to be able to do so. Whether your interest is singing, speaking well as an actor or presenter, or freeing your natural voice as part of a self-healing or spiritual development process – and of course any combination of these elements – then there is something here for you.
I organise the group classes and workshops in such a way that there is no pressure on anyone to perform – the idea is to become more conscious of exactly how your voice works, and to develop your vocal confidence and awareness so that with practice your voice can become fully integrated both physically and emotionally – a totally spontaneous, fully embodied voice. For this reason it is very important that you feel relaxed and able to experiment with making – often rather silly! – sounds, without any embarrassment or self-consciousness.
Functional Integration For Voice
Hands-on muscle-releasing training sessions, focussing on integrating your neck, throat, face, rib cage, and the respiratory (and other) organs.
Feldenkrais comes in two formats, group training, known as Awareness Through Movement®, and individual hands-on training, known as Functional Integration®. Using sensitive touch as a teaching process can be a valuable addition to more familiar methods of vocal training, and may be particularly helpful if you feel your issues with performance are connected to deep muscle tissue holding patterns.
During this period of lockdown, this aspect of my work is obviously on hold, hopefully we will be able to resume some version of normality at some point, in the meantime do not hesitate to contact me directly if you would like to know more, or discuss online alternatives.
Monthly Sunday workshop…
Sunday May 16th – Online + Recording
2 pm – 4.30 pm
£30 (Suggested fee, or any donation welcome)
We inhale, we expand the thorax, and we gently massage our lower organs; then we exhale, we relax, we release and ‘let go’. There is a natural pause–a short one–and then the whole cycle of alive-being begins again, spontaneous, effortless, and usually below our conscious awareness. When life demands it we naturally switch to a more active–and potentially more conscious–process. Thus the marathon runner breathes with her whole torso, generating as much expansion on her inhalation as possible, even within the tiny cavity behind her collar bones. The singer uses her breath to make music, and as her skills grow her ability to manage the coordination of her breathing mechanisms produces great vocal power, the ability to sustain specific vocal qualities, the stamina to perform for the length of the show, and the lyricism that emerges in mature performance; her sophisticated control of her exhalation is central to her musicianship.
Humans are unusual in our ability to switch back and forth between conscious, unconscious, and semi-conscious breathing; most creatures just breathe–although it is interesting to consider that conscious breathing is also fundamental to the life experience of highly intelligent sea mammals, creatures whose every breath requires a trip to the surface and is thus always a conscious, deliberate act, and something that youngsters have to learn for themselves.
When we practise breathing with the intention of improving our lung capacity, we improve more quickly as we develop the ability to exhale more fully, and this greater thoracic contraction massages our heart and lungs, increasing the beneficial effects of each breath on every part of our healthy functioning. When we take a fuller inhalation the same beneficial massaging action happens in our abdomen, massaging the organs in charge of reproduction, digestion, and waste disposal. This regular massaging of our organs is a natural consequence of breathing fully, and improving our lung capacity via regular breathing practices means that we benefit more even during the percentage of time when we are breathing unconsciously – this benefit is one that Moshe Feldenkrais highlighted in his Awareness Through Movement teaching system.
Every time we inhale we briefly stimulate our sympathetic state-of-readiness (known as our fight-or-flight mode), and then, as we exhale again we shift back into our rest-and-recuperate mode – so all we need to do to soothe our nervous system is to exhale for a little longer than we inhale – it is that simple. This is I am sure the reason why there is so much evidence that singing is proven to be good for the health. When you examine the evidence you quickly discover that it is all based on research into communal singing, but once you understand Porges theories then you can easily see how to use these practices in a way that is effective even when you are singing while home alone.
This workshop will be beneficial for:
Singers, presenters, performers, and anyone interested in the voice, and issues around self-expression
Anyone dealing with chronic stress issues, or breathing problems/conditions
Anyone dealing with chronic tension in the face, jaw, and throat.
Anyone interested in meditation and chanting
Use the contact form to ask me any questions or make a booking.
IF YOU USE MY CONTACT FORM, PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM REQUESTING AN ALTERNATIVE CONTACT METHOD, IN ADDITION TO YOUR EMAIL, AS I AM FINDING MY REPLIES ARE DISAPPEARING INTO PEOPLE’S SPAM FOLDERS. A MOBILE NUMBER IS IDEAL, I DO NOT SHARE ANY OF YOUR INFORMATION WITH ANYONE.
Weekly WellBeing class…
Sensory-Self-Awareness for Self-Healing
7 – 9 pm
Online + Recording £20*
(*suggested fee, or any donation welcome)
These extended* evening classes focus on my Feldenkrais-based self-healing strategies, and the recordings are intended to make it very easy for you to develop these skills for yourself. I am exploring the evening format with the intention of supporting better sleep as well as pain relief and self-calming.
One seldom-discussed aspect of the potency of the voice is the influential presence of an internal voice, constantly commentating on our lives. The voice inside our own heads can be an ally or an enemy; for a while now I have been discovering how to train my inner voice to be a better ally in my on-going project of self-healing. Here is an introduction to the process, from an article on my website:
“Self-Hypnosis – also known as Autogenic Training – has been around for a long time. I first came across it back in the Eighties, in a book called Superlearning. This was at right at the beginning of my interest in meditation, and practising the autogenic sequences from the book were the closest I came to achieving the deeper states of inner calm that are reportedly the most effective brain wave frequencies for healing chronic conditions.
Thus, when a bout of chronic fatigue left me with fibromyalgic pain that did not easily respond to the mindful movements that had helped me free myself of sciatica in the past, my investigations brought me full circle, and this time I made a connection I had somehow failed to make before. I remembered that Moshe Feldenkrais was also interested in self-hypnosis at a similar age, except that – being the over-achiever he was – he translated a significant book on the subject into Hebrew, and boldly added his own thoughts in a 26 page commentary.
The book was The Practice Of Autosuggestion by the Method of Émile Coué (1929), and Moshe’s original contribution has recently been published as Thinking and Doing, A monograph by Moshe Feldenkrais. He retained his enthusiasm for these concepts throughout his life, attempting to republish his translation in 1977, and using the techniques he still valued to speed his recovery after his stroke.
You will need to book with me directly to get the Zoom link, and a recorded version of the lesson is included in the fee. Bookings are by email, or via my contact form.
*I am aware that two hours is a long class, so do please know that you can choose to join us for the first hour only, particularly if that would make joining the class regularly more manageable for you.