QUOTES & OBSERVATIONS

Throughout my years of teaching I have continued to review and refine the technique that I have developed. My goal is to present a system that is simple, clear and related to good speech. In my journey I have come upon quotes, sentences and words which have been an inspiration to me.

I thought I might include some of these “gemettes” of wisdom (some words are altered but the content is not)...“success is a journey and not a destination”...“sing with the interest of the voice, never the capital”...my own favorite is...“singing should feel like you are riding a tightrope on a unicycle while repairing a watch and enjoying every moment.” The one of Jed Harris...“perfection is the last resort of the amateur” is a doozy. “Keep a heart of fire and a mind of ice.” So let’s get on with it...read on with your eyes, mind and your heart. If you have stayed with me until now, let me wish you good luck in your quest for a life in singing. It is demanding, frustrating, mentally stimulating, fun and in the long run, totally rewarding. The reward is in knowing that you have conquered that ever illusive “technique.”


Stanislavsky   ‹to top›
...the great Russian innovator in the technique of acting

Love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art.


Lawrence Olivier   ‹to top›
PBS interview

Our responsibility as interpretive artists is to give the audience a glimpse into a moment of truth


Maria Callas   ‹to top›

You must put yourself to the service of the composer.

My colleagues become angry with me because I like to rehearse. I must repeat things over and over until I am able to go on stage and forget everything in order to listen and respond seemingly spontaneously.

(This isn't an exact quote, but it is the essence of it)


Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille   ‹to top›

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.

If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.

Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive that the others.


Cicely Berry   ‹to top›
Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts Speech teacher
Voice and the Actor

For example some actors have an unbalanced voice. This comes from tension in the back of the palate and tongue which does not allow the chest “resonance” to reinforce the sound. It also comes, I think from a mistaken idea that that is where the sound should be placed. This concentration of energy in the head...gives the voice a metallic quality... the actor hears it in his head as having bite and edge, qualities on which he feels he can rely, and his ear is accustomed to that sound. In fact to the listener's ear the texture of the voice is restricted, because it is thin and lacks the warmth that the “body” could give it its wholeness and so its possibilities are narrowed. By taking this particular tension away, finding the energy in a different place with less conscious effort, the voice will have much greater flexibility and freedom. It will also have more conviction because it will be more complete. All this the actor may feel when doing the exercises...but when faced with the situation of the audience it is extremely difficult for him to believe that he is being as positive when he is not feeling the usual effort. He feels lost without the tension on which he has relied, because this tension was part of his emotional make-up and his way of committing himself to an audience, and perhaps of convincing himself. It then becomes more than a simple question of voice, for the rooted voice is stronger and more positive it calls into question your judgment of the amount of energy needed to communicate, and where that energy should be found. Whatever the problem it takes time to believe that freedom works.

If you do not use enough energy you fail to reach your audience, but if you use too much you disperse it by using too much breath bursting out on consonants and getting too loud. The audience tends to recoil...this has to do with pushing out the emotion...In real life you step back from the person who is over-anxious, the person who gets you into a corner when he talks to you, and it is the same with the performer's relationship with his audience...In short you are looking for the energy in the muscles themselves, and when you find that energy you do not have to push it out, it releases itself.

Tensions and limitations always come from a lack of trust in yourself.


Attributed to Luisa Tetrazzini   ‹to top›
Soprano, 1870-1940

The height of vocal art is to have no apparent method, but to be able to sing with facility from one end of the voice to the other, emitting all the notes clearly and yet with power and having each note of the scale sound the same in quality and tonal beauty as the ones before and after. There are many methods which lead to the goal of natural singing—that is to say, the production of voice with ease, beauty and control. Some of the greatest teachers in the world reach this point apparently by diverging roads.

Certain young singers take in an enormous breath, stiffening every muscle in order to hold the air, thus depriving their muscles of all elasticity.

There should be no stiffness in any part of the ribs or lungs.


Birgit Nilsson   ‹to top›
Wagnerian soprano, 1918
Masterclass

No one ever paid me an extra penny not to take a breath. Nobody pays for the notes going to the back of your head.


Giuseppe Lamperti   ‹to top›
Voice Teacher
Vocal Wisdom

Beginners often make the mistake of “letting themselves go” while singing because they believe it achieves good results; that is untrue. The head must always be cool, only the heart should be warm...Only he who understands correct singing can obtain real power and expression in song.

If the top falls out of your tone, you have uprooted your energy from the pelvic region. If resonance disappears, you have lost the connection between head and chest.

If your tone is too far back...enunciation is at fault.

There is no dividing line between thought and emotion. But there cannot be a preponderance of one or the other...50-50 is a safe mixture.

The sensation of good diction is like the tickle on the lips while “playing on a comb.”

(I love this next one—it is very quaint, but does make a point)

The unity of breath, alignment and word is like three children playing in a ring...If one lets go, all become helpless.


Joan   ‹to top›

Here are a few of mine...

The technique of anything is the technique of everything.

Sing with energy not force, the meaning of the words not the drama of the music.


I have many more...but I think you have had enough. I hope you have had an interesting and enjoyable time going through my life with me...so far, I have had an interesting and enjoyable time living it.