October 15th, 2007

SUPPORT ... It’s a word that virtually all teachers use ...  but, in my experience, only a very few have a even clue as to exactly what it is ...

Did you ever hear the big voiced guy at a Dodgers baseball game yell out, “Hey Ump. Your mother wears combat boots.” That big ol’ noise he makes, sustained and on pitch ... is a quintessential manifestation of support. The fella is supporting a full voice and he does so ... because he simply wantsto be heard ... wants everyone to hear him. “Sing out, Louise!” from Gypsy. Sing to the “Exit” sign ... by using the flexible belly button to produce breath pressure on demand. There are other subtleties that help to put it all together, but that’s essentially what I taught at USC.  But, it was my sophomore baritone and his big high G’s, using that enigmatic thing I teach, that drove Cynthia Munser to her feet, her arms shanking, asking, “Richard. How to you get your students so ... so physically involved in their singing?” that is what I bring to the table. That is support ... flexibly lifting the breath pressure on demand ... as dictated by the phrase ... and filling your mirror with sound.

In my first installment, I gave far more than just a “tip” on breathing. I gave almost all of what I teach about the breathing, required to get the best of your talent, and I hope it was enough to peak your interest. I wrote about how nature provides you with the air you breathe and how you can harness its full potential ... to use it when singing. If you are considering a professional career, your second priority (proper breathing is first) is how to start a tone/sound that will continue throughout the length and breadth of the phrase, meeting all its demands, i.e. high notes, low notes, crescendos, diminuendos ... and everything in between. One of the axioms I teach is “The Cardinal Error: NEVER confuse volume with support ... they are not the same!” You should always increase support–crisply–for full high notes (forte or piano), using the flexible breath pressure I described in the first installment, and then continue lifting and growing–keeping the tone full–down the backside of the phrase  ... keeping the tone flowing. Then, while feeding the BP to the tone, moving the focus of the vowel tighter, brighter, farther forward, narrow ... when doing a diminuendo. Most folk simply back-off some of the breath pressure, to make a phrase softer ... and  the tone thins, becomes more breathy while the tongue begins to wobble. That’s what happens when you pull off “support”... rather than maintaining a smooth, vibrant, reduced, focused flow of air ... as you keep sending the tone ... OVER THERE ... until you pop and rest, to stop the tone!
The voice is a wind instrument! It needs an energized physical, flexible platform from which to launch the big notes ... as well as the small ... That’s what all the successful singers have ... most of them doing it naturally. I teach "naturally." everything within natures design. I teach what I do! Play the videos and listen to the audio's ... You will never hear me strain ... That's what makes singing so much fun!

Thimpk about it! ;-)