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Claudia Friedlander
New York City
Revolutionizing vocal technique with timeless wisdom
Recent Activity
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The application for Joyce DiDonato’s 2018 Master Class series is now available. These guidelines will help you get your materials in great shape for submission. Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2017 at The Liberated Voice
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Is identity a given, a work in progress, or just an illusion? Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2017 at The Liberated Voice
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My first two books, Vocal Fitness: A Singer’s Guide to Physical Training, Anatomy, and Biomechanics and The Singer’s Audition & Career Handbook, are forthcoming from Rowman & LIttlefield in spring 2018. Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2017 at The Liberated Voice
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For the past several months I have been asking myself whether there is anything at all I can do to counter the very real threats our democracy is now facing and feeling disempowered. I now have some hope that there is a way that my specialized skill set can be of broader practical use. Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2017 at The Liberated Voice
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Artistry may not be something that can be taught, but we can design curricula and create an environment that encourages its development. Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2016 at The Liberated Voice
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Achieving vocal technical mastery need not be a maddening process. Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2016 at The Liberated Voice
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Vocal training programs must provide for the cultivation of good alignment, stamina, balanced strength and flexibility, and overall health and well-being. Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2016 at The Liberated Voice
Thanks! I'm looking forward to exploring the possibilities as well. Of course, it would take a lot more than any one brain to tackle the issue – I'd love to gather experts on every aspect of vocal performance and education to brainstorm how we can do this better.
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A Master of Music is a professional degree - one that by definition qualifies the recipient to practice a trade. We must ensure that our voice MMs are ready to go to work. Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2016 at The Liberated Voice
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Singers have at least as much in common with athletes as we do instrumentalists. We must create a body capable of virtuosity and let our intentions take complete control. Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
Hi David, I had a look at the video you're referring to. Feughtinger recommends a "grooved" position of the tongue, so he would seem to be advocating for engaging the hyoglossus as well as tensing up the other components of the tongue that create this deep groove; in the video I think he is also advocating for singing with a lowered soft palate/uvula. These days most vocologists and vocal pedagogues are in agreement that the ideal position for the tongue is usually in an appropriately arched position, with no retraction/depression of the hyoglossus; there is also wide, albeit not universal, agreement that for classical singing, the soft palate should sustain a raised position closing off the nasal port except when the demands of articulation require that it be otherwise. Creating a deep groove in the tongue and dropping the soft palate is one means of shaping the resonance space. If Feuchtinger and his disciples are able to elicit great results from their students with this approach to articulation and resonance, then clearly it works for them. However, I do not find this is the most effective way to shape resonance - it runs counter to the way I approach articulation and resonance in my own teaching of technique. I can see no advantage to lightly engaging the hyoglossus. Doing so will necessarily create some degree of downward pressure on the larynx, because the hyoglossus originates in the hyoid bone, from which the larynx is suspended. But I also don't think you can evaluate the effectiveness of doing this outside the greater context of what Feuchtinger proposes. I will say, however, that I find it seriously off-putting when a method lays claim to "superiority" and "perfection" the way this web site does! They say, "We are the only course in the world to go into such intense detail to explain how the voice is produced and how it is possible to correct it and develop it." You can't imagine that someone like me to take such language seriously. There is plenty of bad instruction out there, but there are also dedicated teachers conducting valid research and training outstanding singers who would never make such outlandish claims! I realize that you are asking my opinion about Feughtinger's ideas rather than promoting this web site, but wow! So, in short, what Feughtinger is advocating is a specific technique for developing resonance and articulation. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "discovery," though, because it is not the *only* way to develop resonance and articulation, and strong arguments (also based on anatomy and physiology) can be made in favor of others. best, Claudia
Thanks - really glad you like the post! It is indeed a big part of the problem that there are issues that many voice faculty simply do not know how to address effectively. Voice departments continue to enthusiastically add star performers to their faculties who have excellent ears but little teaching experience or pedagogy background. I often get lesson inquiries from singers who give glowing reports of the teacher they worked w/ for their MM but say, "they weren't really a technician and now I need someone who can help me work through some specific issues." When such a teacher is faced with a student who can't access their top or has a manic vibrato, and this student doesn't respond well to the same exercises that worked for them, they often conclude that it's an insurmountable problem rather than a technical imbalance. The teachers need to understand that these problem have solutions and either learn to help their students solve them or refer them to someone who can.
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Instrumentalists must be able to do everything that it is possible to do on their instrument with great skill. The same is true for singers. We can learn a great deal from the way instrumentalists conceive of and pursue mastery. Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
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It is not enough to evaluate the quality of the sound a singer produces. We must also evaluate the quality of the instrument, the quality of a singer’s coordination, and the quality of the mind/body integration that enables them to simultaneously be both artist and instrument. Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
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Perfecting your voice requires time, perseverance, and the right training. With the right tools and mindset, you can go the distance. Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
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You can never really know where your dreams will lead or whether you’re on the right course. It may be that the only way to know whether you’re on the right course is to see how you respond when everything conspires to knock you off it. Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
Voice teachers use words like "support," "placement," "cover" etc. that do not have agreed-upon biomechanical definitions and may mean very different things to different singers/teachers. This is one reason why in my own teaching I do my best to describe things objectively, using appropriate anatomical descriptions for what is actually happening. Because singers experience such wildly varying sensations and different levels/kinds of awareness of what is going on while they're singing, *they* have to use very personal and subjective language to describe what is going on. But as a teacher I have to do my best to translate what they're saying into objective anatomical terms, at least for the sake of my own understanding. Scientific and biomechanical terminology should *not* vary from one teacher to the next. I agree that in an article discussing anatomical details, I should not have been ambiguous in the way I used the word "depress". I'm not arguing for more flexible use of pedagogical terminology - I will be more precise in the way I use this language going forward. I was just dumbfounded that Martha volunteered this correction while having nothing whatsoever to say about the content of my article, especially considering that she has herself been researching solutions for tongue tension issues recently.
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A respected colleague responds to my recent Classical Singer column, leading me to reflect on the current state of our profession. Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
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Common postural distortions can limit breathing, range, power and resonance but can be ameliorated through corrective exercise techniques. “The Voice of Posture,” a guest post for the NASM blog, is my first piece about voice written for the fitness community. Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
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While art, imagination, and the transference of emotion through music are indeed mysterious, physical movement is not. Many of the things singers find mysterious about technique can be made more transparent and relatively easy to work with through an understanding of kinesiology. Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
I'm a voice teacher, and I write this blog to provide information that will help people to become better and more successful singers. That is my reason for evaluating the vocal technique of a star performer who is an inspiration and role model to thousands of aspiring singers world-wide. It is my opinion that the adverse circumstances under with Idina Menzel performed on New Year's Eve did not create the vocal problems that were widely observed but merely exacerbated them. It’s important to understand that the flaws in her performance are in all likelihood technical issues that can be resolved with good instruction and diligent practice. Otherwise, singers just think that problems can erupt out of nowhere and derail their career, that professional consistency is something over which they have no control whatsoever, and that all voices are doomed to deteriorate at some point. Singers who tend well to their vocal technique and health will not lose their skills. And make no mistake: those who lose their skills due to poor technique cannot effectively teach good technique to others. Another lesson from Menzel's NYE performance is the importance of saying "no" when prudent. While it is very difficult to turn down an exciting, high-profile opportunity, singers need to maintain a realistic idea of the conditions that will make it possible for them to represent the best of what they can do and to determine boundaries that will help them avoid performing below the standards they set for themselves. You can't be a great artist while always playing it safe, so miscalculations will happen from time to time. Use them to help you establish better boundaries in the future. As should be clear from my post, I am an avid admirer of Idina Menzel's talent and contributions. Those of use who love her singing should wish her a long, healthy career. We do her a grave disservice by lowering our expectations of her exceptional abilities and by accepting her vocal decline as inevitable.
Glad you liked the post, Amanda. These were certainly abysmal conditions in which to perform! Broadway performance schedules have continued to become more and more grueling. The If/Then schedule has her performing a matinee and an evening performance on Saturdays and then a Sunday matinee - that's three shows in a 27-hour period! Extremely demanding, even for a performer in top shape.
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When Idina Menzel sang “Let It Go” on New Year's Eve, Twitter critics didn’t care for her performance of the climactic high note. Was she just having an off-night, or should she be concerned? My thoughts on what makes for a healthy high belt and how she rates. Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2015 at The Liberated Voice
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A strong, balanced core musculature provides exceptional support for your singing technique. While the development of chronic tension and holding in the abdominal muscles can indeed negatively impact your ability to inhale fully and mess up your breath management, this is only a concern if you engage in an exercise regimen that does not prioritize the sports-specific needs of singers. Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2014 at The Liberated Voice
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What is the most valuable piece of feedback you have ever received for your singing? I suspect that it wasn’t a compliment but rather a useful dose of criticism. Continue reading
Posted Oct 16, 2014 at The Liberated Voice