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Claudia Friedlander
New York City
Revolutionizing vocal technique with timeless wisdom
Recent Activity
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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