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Claudia Friedlander
New York City
Revolutionizing vocal technique with timeless wisdom
Recent Activity
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.
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
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
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
Opera is not for everyone. It is not for the 1%, nor is it for the 99%. Opera is for those who enjoy that which is operatic, many of whom may be fans of sci-fi, indie film and HBO original series. This guest post by bass-baritone David Salsbery Fry suggests new sources for opera audiences. Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2014 at The Liberated Voice
The class was nearly three years ago now, so my impressions are not as clear as they would have been immediately afterwards. The word that I would use to describe everything I observed about Moll's technique, though, is "Efficient". What he was doing with his breathing and "support" was nearly undetectable because everything about the way he deployed his vocal folds, articulators and resonance was so beautifully coordinated that his sound emitted from him effortlessly yet shook the rafters. Keep in mind that this was a class focusing on Lieder, and much of what he was demonstrating was quite intimate. I would love to see how his instrument functions when addressing big operatic rep! To the extent that recall anything that would specifically answer your question, it seemed to me that his ribs were expanding and his abdomen remained relaxed while singing. He may have been pushing outward but I would not have been able to observe that.
Sports-specific training refers to exercise regimens designed to optimize performance for particular activities. Professional athletes know that they can’t reach the level of excellence they need for their sport just by playing it. Singers can use principles of sport-specific training to accelerate progress in the studio, enhance many aspects of their performance, and cultivate the level of physical health and well-being that they need in order to deal with the rigors of travel and the stresses and demands of an opera career. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2014 at The Liberated Voice
How is your audition season shaping up? Over the summer, the staff of the Weill Music Institute, Joyce DiDonato and I have been compiling resources on Carnegie Hall’s interactive site Musical Exchange to help streamline the preparation process and create a framework that will enable us to provide you with feedback on your audition and application materials. In this post, I elaborate on several points Joyce covered in her recent video. Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at The Liberated Voice
A maturing larynx yields greater vocal stamina and power, but it also exposes weaknesses in your technique. However, if you are disciplined, this process of maturation can yield greater laryngeal stability, confer upon you the stamina and power to take on longer and more dramatic roles and usher in the best years of your career. Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2014 at The Liberated Voice
I created this blog to provide singers with support and resources for vocal technique, artistry and career development. Over the past several months I’ve been enjoying some wonderful opportunities to carry out this mission in the broader vocal community – online, in print, and in person. It’s consumed a great deal of my time, so now that I am ready to resume blogging I thought I’d start by catching you up on what I have been doing lately. Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2014 at The Liberated Voice
Join me in NYC on March 24th to learn how to optimize your alignment, breathing and stamina for singing. Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2014 at The Liberated Voice
Glad you liked it, Sara! I am enjoying have a look around your blog as well.
Toggle Commented Feb 6, 2014 on Skill at Feeling at The Liberated Voice
How do you actually feel about performing? About the sound of your voice? Your artistry and accomplishments? Your overall technical facility? Singers “must develop the personal depth and vulnerability to channel the extremes of human emotion through their voices at will.” This is arguably the most significant of the many skills a singer needs. The most satisfying and effective performances occur when you are deeply emotionally invested. But how do you develop this skill? Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2014 at The Liberated Voice
There is a vital distinction between evaluating your actual singing – the beauty of your sound, consistency of your vocal production, etc. – and assessing the functionality of the individual components of your technique and the skill with which you are able to integrate them into a coordinated process. While it’s important to have clear goals, the path to achieving them must be based on a comprehensive assessment of both your physiology and your current skill set in order to evaluate strengths, weaknesses and imbalances in all areas. Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
Posted Dec 3, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
Young singers spend a great deal of time polishing their repertoire and technique, but it's also important for them to learn how to collaborate effectively with a pianist in performance and how to use movement and facial expression to enhance, rather than distract from, their musical delivery. In this video produced for Carnegie Hall's educational web site Musical exchange, pianist Eric Sedgwick, tenor Giovanni Pinto and I provide some tips. Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
Singers have the maintenance and performance needs of an athlete, a highly social career that has them continually surrounded by lavish food, and they tend to be deeply hedonistic by nature. Here are some strategies for designing healthy eating habits in the face of it all. Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
Steve, it looks like your company is doing astonishing work! Hope to experience it firsthand sometime. Rock on!
Toggle Commented Oct 14, 2013 on Is Opera Relevant? at The Liberated Voice
Opera’s true relevance lies in the inherently transformative power of the acoustic human voice - an experience of visceral, as opposed to virtual, reality. It is a potentially ecstatic, cathartic experience of inestimable value. Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
Sports science offers outstanding tools that can help anyone improve alignment, breathing and kinesthetic awareness. Like me, many singers unfortunately grow up with a poor relationship with fitness. If you look at fitness as an extension of what you do in the practice room, you can forge a new, empowering relationship with exercise. Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
Too often singers find themselves in trouble in the midst of what should be their finest moments because even in the face of serious tensions and ailments, a committed, gifted singer can sing their heart out - at least until the problems reach critical mass and they must resort to surgery or career realignment. When they get that wake-up call, they should investigate ways to improve their technique. Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
It is within your power to completely transform everything about your own physiology that has an impact on your voice. Advances in fields such as exercise science, psychology, and bodywork offer tools and technologies to advance what State of the Art means for singers. Continue reading
Posted Sep 2, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
via Continue reading
Reblogged Aug 26, 2013 at The Liberated Voice
I did not use the example of a spray can of compressed air to explain how the human body exhales. My explanation of how the human body exhales is outlined in my previous post ( I also did not say that subglottal air pressure is what makes the air leave the body. This post is not about exhaling. It is about creating optimal conditions for vocal fold response, which requires eliciting the Bernoulli Effect. There is a good description of this here: For singers to do this, it is necessary to create conditions such that the air pressure below the vocal folds is adequate to make them vibrate as the air releases. Unfortunately, most singers do this by tightening up their throats and then pushing out the air against the resistance they just created. This is an effortful process that can lead to damage and will never yield completely free, beautiful singing. The correct way for singers to manage their breath and optimize subglottal breath pressure is to keep the costal muscles of inspiration engaged while allowing the breath to release fully. There is a more detailed description of this process in this post: Of course the human breathing system is not like a can. I'm just using the can of compressed air to demonstrate how it is possible for there to be a difference in air pressure inside vs. outside a container and how this difference can make the release of the air more powerful. It is usually very difficult for singers to understand and master this very important technique of breath management. It's very hard for them to understand how it could be possible to produce a full sound without tightening and pushing. The analogy of the can is usually helpful for them to start getting some concept of how this works. I am not sure why you decided to comment on this post, as it seems to me that you are not yourself involved in singing or vocal technique. You are a yoga teacher who offers workshops in anatomy. As such, you hopefully know a great deal about the anatomy and physiology of breathing but likely have no experiential knowledge of how this is directly applied for classical singing. I am also surprised by the insulting tone of your comment. As a yoga teacher, I imagine that mindfulness and detached awareness are among the things you encourage in your students. So my expectation is that were you to come across a post that you felt to be incorrect or misleading, you would simply seek to provide better information and the overall tone would be one of equanimity and good will. I constantly seek to deepen my understanding of human anatomy. Yoga teachers like Nicole Newman and Elissa Weinzimmer are high on my list of valued colleagues and sources of information. It's my mission to demystify anatomy to singers, who unfortunately often do not receive instruction in how their instruments actually function. So if I get something wrong I'm eager to be enlightened. You, however, completely misconstrued the point of this post and used it as an excuse to hurl some vitriol in my direction.