Levels of Listening

There are four levels of vocal tone: 
  1. Throat
  2. Upper Lip
  3. Bridge of Nose
  4. Forehead
Guess which level is operatic? So thought a long-dead voice teacher who's words can be found in my files (don't ask who—I am writing from memory). I knew what he meant when I came upon them and have demonstrated his astute observation to students who want to sing classically yet find themselves at numero uno—which is one way of acclimatizing them to what lies ahead without laying on the verbiage.

Teaching students to listen is a different process than book learning, which motor-learning researchers call a "declarative" process. The signposts above involve aural discrimination—the process itself being "procedural" (click on Katherine Verdolini Abbott's label below for more information).

Have we forgotten how to listen as the old Italian school teachers listened to their students? I wonder about that in our age of visual information which blinkers through smart phones and Google glasses. Despite all this and more, it can be observed that the four levels of listening can be accessed through a process of "rounding," number one not being rounded at all, and number four being rounded the most.

Guttural to Chiaroscuro tone.


Anonymous said…
When I see that list, I think:
1. Pop
2. Jazz
3. Broadway
5. Classical

That's more or less what I've observed in singing different styles. I have found that even if one can effectively switch between them, how good one sounds relative to another depends a lot on personal physiognomy. Some people's voices are really amazing in one style and so-so in another, even if competent.
Thank you for your comment, lovethepossibility.