COMPANION

Voice

F. M. Alexander

Many of Alexander’s early writings were on breathing and voice, specifically elocution.[1]

Alexander’s 32-page pamphlet, The Human Voice Cultivated and Developed for Speaking and Singing by the New Methods! does not contain anything specific for singing, but is on voice use and breathing in general. In the article ‘The Lady of the Deep C’ (1904), Alexander is described as helping the singer Miss Violet Elliott, an Australian contralto.[2]

Alexander uses the example of a stutterer to illustrate the application of his Technique in the chapter ‘The stutterer’ in UoS.[3]

Alexander generally only used the whispered ‘ah’ in his teaching, although there is evidence of other voice work in his training course. Marjory Barlow reports on her training with Alexander:

You see in the class, F. M.’s training course, we did a lot of whispered ahs and we did a lot of vocalization, consonants, vowel sounds, and sometimes he’d make you actually shout at the top of your voice.[4]

Literature

Much of the literature cover both voice use and singing. Literature here is predominantly on voice use in general and for reciting and acting. See also Singing.

Articles

  • ‘Voice and the Alexander Technique’ by Allan Hough; on distinguishing between three types of human phonation: song, speech and speechsong, and that it is important to differentiate between song and speech.[5]
  • ‘Voice for the actor’ by Carol Gill Malik discusses the wholeness of the voice; that voice use is a communication activity involving three non-verbal, non-intellectual ‘minds’ simultaneously: mind of voice, mind of emotions, mind of body.[6]
  • ‘Neural control of vocalization and speech’ by Pamela J. Davis, Shi Ping Zhang, Richard Bandler relates experiments into discovering how the brain produces and controls voiced sounds, and discusses the results.[7]
  • ‘Vocal misuse and the significance of the Alexander Technique’ by Michael Dale.[8]
  • ‘Monkeying around with your voice’ by Jane R. Heirich; on the advantages of using the voice while in a monkey, and providing some examples of voice games in monkey.[9]
  • ‘Training the singing voice’ by Beret Arcaya; on restoring and building a fine singing voice, based on the methods of Manuel Garcia and the principles of the Technique.[10]
  • ‘Breathe from the diaphragm and other myths’ by Ron Dennis exposes three common ‘breath teaching’ myths: 1. breathe from your diaphragm, 2. keep your shoulders down, 3. breathe like a baby.[11]
  • ‘Breathe easy, breathe low’ by Judy Champ; on understanding the anatomy of breathing, clearing up misconceptions, and on the whispered ‘ah’.[12]
  • ‘What’s the matter? Lost your tongue?’ by Angela Caine; on the importance of the use of the tongue; the tongue muscles need to be toned as part of the direction ‘free the neck’.[13]
  • ‘Voice lost’ by Michael McCallion argues that voice use should be an important part of teacher training.[14]
  • ‘Communication and vocal use for the Alexander Teacher’ by Jane Heirich; on the release of the jaw, the lifting of the soft palate, the opening the throat, vowel shaping, breathing, and having tactile feedback on the hard palate.[15]
  • ‘A.T. and the voice’ by Alex Farkas; on the convergence of poetry and gracious use in singing, citing examples of teaching two singers.[16]
  • ‘The adventures of leg and his companion, voice, and how they were led into debauchery and deprivation and of their redemption thence into proper function’ by Michael McCallion; on, among other subjects, the importance of Alexander teachers having good use of voice.[17]
  • ‘“Thy fingers walk with gentle gait” – Reading the sonnet’ by Lawrence Bruce; on the benefits of reading Shakespeare’s sonnets out loud.[18]
  • ‘Alexander and voice work’ by Janet Madelle Feindel; on the importance of Alexander teachers having good use of voice.[19]
  • ‘Where it all began’ by Jane R. Heirich describes her workshop which dealt with breathing re-education, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, making sound in a monkey, and while performing hands on the back of the chair.[20]
  • ‘The generous voice’ by Kate Kelly-Tanguay; on Dr Alfred A. Tomatis and his work on sound and hearing, and the influence of voice and sound on our own body.[21]
  • ‘Voice mapping for musicians’ by Susan Holladay; a short description of a workshop using body mapping for voice use.[22]
  • ‘Using voice and Alexander’s “respiratory re-education” in every Alexander lesson’ by Jane R. Heirich; on using the voice, including whispered ‘ah’, in monkey, with hands on the seat of a chair, and in lie-down.[23]
  • ‘The brain speaks’ by Kristin Linklater; stories from teaching voice, and on natural breathing (giving up breath control).[24]
  • ‘Inhibition applied to storytelling’ by Glenn Swift describes the exercises used in preparation for storytelling at the author’s workshop.[25]
  • ‘The baby on the floor can sing!’ by Jane Heirich describing a number of voice games while performing baby-like movements, lying, crawling.[26]
  • ‘The use of breathing and the body vowels’ by Agnès de Brunhoff; exercises and observations from a workshop on breathing, making a sound, the whispered ‘ah’, use of vowels, and reading a text.[27]
  • ‘Expanding up and out’ by Janet Madelle Feindel is a write-up of a workshop covering some activities for actors to explore the principles of the Technique for the voice in ways that stimulate the imagination, e.g. some body mapping, ‘3D walking’, a ‘second head’, ‘nesting dolls’, ‘squeezing down to up and out’, and others.[28]
  • ‘Your beautiful speaking voice’ by Diane Gaary considers the importance of breathing for good voice use and that it is mainly achieved through unlearning acquired habits that interfere with breathing; it also lists some symptoms of using too much air, and of using too little air.[29]

Books

  • The Use of the Voice by Robert Macdonald; an extended edition of an M.A. in Voice Studies, principally analysing lessons with three pupils in Shakespearean performance.[30]
  • The Voice Book by Michael McCallion; though not an Alexander teacher McCallion’s voice teaching is influenced by the Alexander Technique.[31]
  • The Alexander Technique and the Art of Teaching Voice by Maria Weiss is an introduction to the Technique for singers.[32]
  • The Thought Propels the Sound by Janet M. Feindel addresses mainly the voice for acting and for directors and voice coaches for plays, with a brief introduction to the Technique.[33]
  • Voice and the Alexander Technique by Jane Ruby Heirich is a detailed account of the application of the Technique to speaking and singing, with vocal games and exercises.[34]
  • Breathing and the voice – A practical guide to the whispered ‘ah’ by Theodore Dimon Jr. covers breathing and the whispered ‘ah’.[35]
  • Towards Vocal Freedom by Gerald Wragg. Wragg was a voice teacher whose teaching was influenced by the Technique; his book contains examples of the application of the Technique to mainly classical singing.[36]

See also Acting, Singing, Whispered ‘ah’, Breathing, Ear & Hearing.

References

[1] Articles and Lectures by F. Matthias Alexander, edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (Mouritz, 1995).
[2] ‘The Lady of the Deep C’ in The Daily Express, 19 October 1904, online PDF available at https://mouritz.org/library/articles/listing.
[3] The Use of the Self by F. Matthias Alexander (Methuen, 1939), pp. 69–88.
[4] An Examined Life by Marjory Barlow, Trevor Allen Davies (Mornum Time Press, 2002), p. 127.
[5] ‘Voice and the Alexander Technique’ by Allan Hough in Direction vol. 1, no. 3 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1988), pp. 106–09.
[6] ‘Voice for the actor’ by Carol Gill Malik in The Congress Papers 1988: Towards Unity edited by Jeremy Chance (Direction, 1994), pp. 95–98.
[7] ‘Neural control of vocalization and speech’ by Pamela J. Davis, Shi Ping Zhang, Richard Bandler in The Congress Papers 1994, The Meaning of Change, 125 Years On, edited by David Garlick (Direction, 1996), pp. 22–24.
[8] ‘Vocal misuse and the significance of the Alexander Technique’ by Michael Dale in The Congress Papers 1994, The Meaning of Change, 125 Years On, edited by David Garlick (Direction, 1996), pp. 17–21.
[9] ‘Monkeying around with your voice’ by Jane R. Heirich in The Congress Papers 1994, The Meaning of Change, 125 Years On, edited by David Garlick (Direction, 1996), pp. 94–97.
[10] ‘Training the singing voice’ by Beret Arcaya in Direction vol. 2, no. 3 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1995), pp. 6–10.
[11] ‘Breathe from the diaphragm and other myths’ by Ron Dennis in Direction vol. 2, no. 3 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1995), pp. 11–13.
[12] ‘Breathe easy, breathe low’ by Judy Champ in Direction vol. 2, no. 3 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1995), pp. 19–22.
[13] ‘What’s the matter? Lost your tongue?’ by Angela Caine in Direction vol. 2, no. 3 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1995), pp. 26–28.
[14] ‘Voice lost’ by Michael McCallion in Direction vol. 2, no. 3 edited by Jeremy Chance (Fyncot Pty Ltd., 1995), pp. 29–33.
[15] ‘Communication and vocal use for the Alexander Teacher’ by Jane Heirich in The Congress Papers 1999, An Ongoing Discovery edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2001), pp. 209–22.
[16] ‘A.T. and the voice’ by Alex Farkas in Papers from the 3rd International Music Conference 1998 edited by Judith Kleinmann (Peter Buckoke, 1999), pp. 51–52.
[17] ‘The adventures of leg and his companion, voice, and how they were led into debauchery and deprivation and of their redemption thence into proper function’ by Michael McCallion in The Alexander Journal no. 18 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2002), pp. 2–11.
[18] ‘“Thy fingers walk with gentle gait” – Reading the sonnet’ by Lawrence Bruce in The Alexander Journal no. 18 edited by Francesca Greenoak (STAT, 2002), pp. 26–29.
[19] ‘Alexander and voice work’ by Janet Madelle Feindel in The Congress Papers 2004, Exploring the Principles edited by Anne Oppenheimer (STATBooks, 2005), pp. 115–20.
[20] ‘Where it all began’ by Jane R. Heirich in The Congress Papers 2004, Exploring the Principles edited by Anne Oppenheimer (STATBooks, 2005), pp. 161–66.
[21] ‘The generous voice’ by Kate Kelly-Tanguay in The Congress Papers 2004, Exploring the Principles edited by Anne Oppenheimer (STATBooks, 2005), pp. 170–87.
[22] ‘Voice mapping for musicians’ by Susan Holladay in Conference Papers – 6th International Conference for Alexander teachers working in Music Institutions edited by Malcolm Williamson (Malcolm Williamson, 2006), p. 29.
[23] ‘Using voice and Alexander’s “respiratory re-education” in every Alexander lesson’ by Jane R. Heirich in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 1 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 234–40.
[24] ‘The brain speaks’ by Kristin Linklater in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 2 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 52–71.
[25] ‘Inhibition applied to storytelling’ by Glenn Swift in The Congress Papers 2008, From Generation to Generation Vol. 2 edited by Jean M. O. Fischer (STATBooks, 2009), pp. 226–28.
[26] ‘The baby on the floor can sing!’ by Jane Heirich in The Congress Papers 2011, Learning from Each Other edited by Siriol Jones, (STAT Books, 2012), pp. 223–31.
[27] ‘The use of breathing and the body vowels’ by Agnès de Brunhoff in The Congress Papers 2015, Empowering Humanity, Inspiring Science edited by Rachel Gering-Hasthorpe (STAT Books, 2016), pp. 156–61.
[28] ‘Expanding up and out’ by Janet Madelle Feindel in The Congress Papers 2018, Advancing Global Perspectives edited by Paul Marsh (STAT Books, 2019), pp. 46–53.
[29] ‘Your beautiful speaking voice’ by Diane Gaary in The Congress Papers 2018, Advancing Global Perspectives edited by Paul Marsh (STAT Books, 2019), pp. 54–60.
[30] The Use of the Voice by Robert Macdonald (Macdonald Media, 1997).
[31] The Voice Book by Michael McCallion (Faber and Faber, 1998).
[32] The Alexander Technique and the Art of Teaching Voice by Maria Weiss (Verlag Dr Muller, 2009), pp. 94–109.
[33] The Thought Propels the Sound by Janet M. Feindel (Plural Publishing, 2009).
[34] Voice and the Alexander Technique by Jane Ruby Heirich (Mornum Time Press, 2005).
[35] Breathing and the voice – A practical guide to the whispered ‘ah’ by Theodore Dimon Jr. (Author, 2015).
[36] Towards Vocal Freedom by Gerald Wragg. Edited by Malcolm Williamson (Mouritz, 2017).
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