Here are the basic points behind my teaching:
1) Good breathing starts with good posture. Opera singing is a classical discipline, and this means the position of singing must be “noble” or “pulled together”. “Relaxing” is not enough.
2) There is a way to breathe which is balanced between the diaphragmatic, abdominal and intercostal function. It is normally invisible to the oberver. It is neither excessively low nor excessively high. With this balanced breath, support is not difficult.
3) Support or breath management is based on maintaining the position of breathing as long as possible. This means a coordinated response of the muscles of the chest wall. the external intercostals, the internal intercostals, the transverse abdominals and the oblique abdominals. You can feel it when you blow up a balloon. It gives a stream of pressurized air which is ideal for classical singing.
4) Beautiful sound is produced from a loose throat. Get the feeling of loosening the tongue around the hyoid bone, and remember it. It should feel exactly the same when you sing.
5) “Come si parla”: the voice in singing feels exactly like the voice in correct speaking. There is no extra pressure on the vocal cords, and there is a feeling of the voice in the front, on the lips or on the hard palate. This is resonance imagery, but it is most helpful for achieving efficient gkottal closure.
6) Sing on the “gesture of inhalation “. This old maxim of Lamperti’s is as true today as it ever was. To get the feel of it, use “warming air”, a feel of the breath warm and moist against your hand. The “open throat” is a consequence of how you work with the breath.
7) Singing is balance. Put it all together with a good teacher. Don’t neglect the whole for the parts.
What I teach is based on thirty years of practical experience. Of my own teachers, Louis Quilico was the greatest influence on me, not so much for what he taught, as for what he represented. Louis was the first singer I met who said, in effect, “There is a coordination of great singing. Great singers do it: you can learn it too.”
That set me a puzzle which took me years to solve. Louis’ teaching was based on breathing and support; but his explanations were confusing. This is the task I set myself: “How can I learn this breathing (from the back) without discomfort or forcing? What is support, and how can I learn it? What is the “open throat”, and how can I achieve it without forcing the larynx? How can I achieve stability in my singing, without pressure? How can I find a way to sing which will bring out the greatest natural beauty in the voice and leave me able to do everything the composer intended? How can I sing in a way which leaves me free to interpret, that is, free not to think about singing when I sing?
Please see the "reviews" section for press comments on my continuing work as an operatic performer and recitalist. For those who wish to see me in performance, I will singing the roles of Benoit/Alcindoro in Boheme for Opera Hamilton in April of 2010.