Optimal voice integration to attaining Vocal Release
– A Holistic, Scientific Approach written by Elizna Odendaal.
“The Human Voice is the only instrument wherein player and played upon are the same and can therefore only achieve full expression when firmly grounded in the body” (Brownell, 2001).
‘Optimal voice integration’ is the correct use of the voice in each body of work by making the one useful to the other as a basis for expressive action. Although ‘optimal integrated vocal practice’ is desirable most of the time, it is not widely achieved precisely because of the felt and lived experiences of individuals. When unnecessary tension in the body is at odds with the free and natural voice, working on relaxation is the starting point.
Relaxation implies feeling free, alert and ready for action without unnecessary tension. It is a constant harmony between the muscles in the body. Relaxation proves to be integrally part of the voice because the voice singles out the slightest feeling of unease. When unnecessary tension is present in the body, it constricts the voice and makes it difficult for the vocal folds to produce optimal vocal sounds, however, a slight amount of muscle functioning are constantly needed to keep the body in an upright position. Along with relaxation, a correct posture is required in order for the voice to be easily produced. Posture is the arrangement of muscles and bones in the body which puts the body into its natural alignment. When the spine and the muscles are in optimal relationship in carrying the body, the best vocal results will emerge. If any part of the body is out of alignment, then another part of the body will be required to take on that burden that causes a chain reaction that will constrict the body in its optimal functioning.
When the body is free of all tension then the breath required simply ‘drops’ and ‘falls into place’. This process is somewhat organic – you do not need to think about it or force the process. Normally, the individual only begins to think about breath and has a growing awareness of it when it becomes irregular or when useless tensions enters the body. The free and lower breath gives us access to our feelings. Individuals who do not breathe easily and who’s breathing remains low has to push for all their emotional responses and are quickly fatigued. The amount of breath has to precisely match the thought and feeling for optimal physical stamina and vocal release. When we are happy, our heart rate slows down, our breath is relaxed and deepens and our blood pressure goes down. Meanwhile, when negative energy is present, everything is the exact opposite; our blood pressure is high and our breathing rapid and shallow as we get ready for the fight. Yet we try to avoid strong negative emotions – why? Is it because we were not taught an appropriate method for emotional release or that we believe that we do not have an outlet for our emotions?
The IE GROUP enables the client to explore with the emotional release vocally and physically in both a structured and simulated manner. The desired outcome is to release the muscles, which make adjustments both physically and psychologically through vocalization that brings us back to freeing the natural voice, and make us realize our full potential. The higher our emotional tension, the louder our voices become. When we restrict our voice, it is often an attempt to cap a ‘loud’ emotion that was bubbling to the surface and ready to escape. Casual voluntary mimicking of expressions of emotions an easily be detected as fake – something always fails, whether in the configuration of the facial muscles or tin the tone and Speech production at the IE GROUP aims at releasing various muscle tensions in the body which block the flow of breath, reduces the flexibility of the articulators, inhibit the fullness of resonance, and limits the fluidity of vocal range and expression. This seeks to explore the nature of this action which takes place on a personal level where one’s emotions and spirituality come into play, from the standpoint of those who take part in it. Research shows that there are tendencies, and through these tendencies, patters appear that imply that vocal simulations can be valuable to optimal vocal release and improved vocal quality.