February 3, 2018

Facts vs Voice

All you have to do is go to a gathering of voice teachers to observe that nearly a fourth of them are mixed-dominant. I am not exaggerating. You see it on their faces, hear it in their voices, and those of their students.

How do I know so much about this?

I am mixed dominant, which I discovered when I went to the Listening Centre in Toronto, Canada, in 1999.

Most people are right-handed, use their right eye to focus, and lead with their right foot and right ear. Mixed-dominant folks are just that: mixed in terms of laterality. This is a big deal as far as the ear is concerned. According to Tomatis, the right ear processes higher frequencies faster than the left: so, if you are leading with your left ear rather than the right ear when you speak and sing, it will be reflected in your voice.

How so?

The voice that is not being led by the right ear will not have adequate ring—what the old Italian school called voice placement. While it may make a big impression in a small room, it will not carry well in a hall, and may even give the odd impression that it is coming from another room.

Hello!

The voice teacher with a non-leading right ear? She can't wrap her brain around voice placement—much less teach it.

This left-handed and left-eyed boy experienced something of a revelation when his right ear was opened, being able to understand and do things that had previously been a mystery (so that's how you do messa di voce). All the technical knowledge he had been given started firing on all cylinders. He came to realize that you can't know what you need to know until you have acquired the means to know it.

Ergo...

You should understand that you are buying your teacher's listening ability, not just her intellect. If your teacher's right ear isn't leading her voice it's going to influence her vocal production and teaching, as well as your vocal production. Modeling happens whether we like it or not. It's human nature. It's how languages are learned. It's also how singing is acquired even if your teacher never sings a note—her speaking voice being the medium and message.

Put a fact and a voice in the same room and the student will follow the voice.

I will address this matter during a summer workshop that will focus on the teachings of the old Italian school as illuminated through the work of Tomatis—a bridging of worlds that encompasses the fields of psychoacoustics, neuroplasticity, and motor-learning theory. It will be practical, hands on, and offer participants effective tools gleaned from legendary teachers and twenty-five years of research, study and application.

Stay tuned for an announcement regarding the date and location. 

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