I Help people sing and speak expressively and powerfully no matter the level of experience :)
HI, I'M JORGELINA
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Very often, when I am introduced to a new person and they enquire about what I do for a living, they find it interesting that I teach people to sing. But the few times in which the people in question are curious enough to check my webpage out, they come across the idea of holistic singing, and that’s when the confusion starts. They ask me ‘what does holistic singing mean’? often assuming that I do some kind of “singing meditation”, or something like that. Or that I “make people breathe” (hopefully people breathe all day!). Or in the worst-case scenario, that I make people “sing from the stomach”.
So if you have ever wondered what does holistic singing mean, keep on reading and hopefully, I will enlighten you on this topic.
There is a lot of confusion about what holistic singing means. More often than not people assume that I “work with breathing and posture” and that’s what makes it holistic. Well, yes and no. Most singing methods work with posture and breathing to some extent too, although not all of them.
Firstly, when teachers use the word holistic to describe their teaching methods we are not talking about a specific singing method, such as Bel Canto, Speech Level Singing, etc. Rather, we talk about our approach to teaching singing.
A holistic-singing teacher typically, and hopefully, will have a deep understanding of the vocal function. They will hopefully be trained singers themselves and have studied one or more singing methods in depth. But they usually also work with other aspects of our physical, mental, emotional or spiritual world and integrate it into the singing training, often, and again, hopefully, gaining a qualification or investigating other disciplines to a deep level, such as Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, Qigong, meditation, etc.
Different singing teachers will have different backgrounds, and that is one of the things that makes us all different.
In my case, in addition to singing training, vocal pedagogy and vocal coaching, I am trained in movement therapy, body awareness, coaching, Qigong, Reiki, and other therapies that integrate perfectly with the vocal function. In addition to that, I am trained in a singing method called the Rabine method, which is scientifically based and works deeply with the nervous system of a singer, influencing it through different movements and exercises and achieving optimal vocal function. One of the principles of this method is to set up the body in a way that is functional for singing. When a singer is not trained properly they tend to sing while activating a different “function”, such as those belonging to the category of the high-pressure valve – this is bad news for your voice.
Also, any singing teacher that claims to have a holistic approach to singing should, in my opinion, have spent a great deal of time and dedication to understanding human psychology as well, as well as doing a lot of self work on their own limitations.
A holistic approach to singing also means the environment in which we teach, as well as the whole student’s experience at the singing studio, is designed in a way that the student feels as safe as possible. An environment in which the student feels unsafe (consciously or subconsciously) for any reason, won’t be appropriate for the vocal system to be activated. Instead, the defense mechanisms will be a priority for the whole mind-body system of the student.
When talking about the question: ‘what does holistic singing mean?’, it is important to mention what you might encounter in a session. A holistic approach to singing also means that every lesson is different. A good, trained singing teacher who works holistically will also have in mind the energies present that day. Your whole vocal system changes when you go through different emotions; your voice is different every day! And so, a holistic approach to singing has this in consideration. A holistic approach to singing will start the lesson of the day by getting in contact with how you and your voice feels TODAY. In fact, singers should get in contact with their present voice every day – regardless of whether they have a lesson or not. From there we start the development of our training each day. I have found that this is a much more effective way to progress in singing. Other ways often lead to frustration because, whether we like it or not, progress is not linear. This is particularly the case in singing when we know our voice is affected by pretty much everything that happens to us.
A holistic approach to singing is, in my opinion, good for most singer. Why? Because singing is always a holistic process, whether you like it or not. Our whole body, mind and energy in general are all interconnected, as well as the external circumstances that surround us. In fact, a lot of what happens in your larynx has to do with ancient protection systems that we developed much earlier than we could even dream about singing! To give you an example, any time your brain thinks that you are in danger, your throat will tend to close. Your vocal system won’t be open for singing and if you do, you will force your voice.
However, if you are having a relaxing day at home and are feeling happy and free after going for a nice swimming session, you might feel that your voice sounds nice and easy that day.
Most of us can relate to the experience of feeling a “knot in the throat” in certain situations, such as having to speak in public, “rehearsing” an argument or feeling unheard in a situation. You don’t have to be an expert in body awareness to figure out that your voice is connected to your emotions. And just like your emotions, many other factors play a big role in your voice. For example, if you have a low tolerance to CO2 due to maybe not being physically very active for example, your voice will be deeply affected as well.
In my experience as a singing teacher, as well as being a singer myself, I have found that a traditional approach to singing based solely on the physical aspects of singing doesn’t work for everyone. Some people carry different baggage with them and their voice reacts to that. Remember that the whole larynx system’s main function is to work as a valve for protection. Singing (believe it or not) is NOT a priority. So it makes sense that when people go through different traumas, whether minor or major, this valve sometimes tends to want to close. And so it is very different learning to sing for a person that has lived in a supportive environment all their life compared to a person that went through deep traumas and felt unsafe, whether consciously or unconsciously, throughout their life.
A holistic approach to singing will require both the singer and the teacher to respect the pace of each student. This is often hard for the student themselves, as they usually compare themselves with other singers. At this point, if you have read this entire blog post, you can probably imagine that comparison is fruitless – there will not be two people in the world that will have shared the same experiences, baggage, background, circumstances and the same way of processing life, so the comparison is not only a waste of time. It is also a bit of an aggressive attitude towards oneself.
So a singing teacher with a holistic approach basically sees every student as unique. Even if we have methods and steps, and hierarchy within the training – you need to learn to crawl before you learn to run – a singing teacher that works holistically will be often able to help a student find their own path, of course, with guidance from the singer, but it usually is a kind of training that involves a more and more co-creation with every lesson.
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