Are you broken or are you a badass?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? Maybe it’s time to explore it.
You’ve probably spent your life being told in many ways that your body, your being, isn’t enough.
That’s left you feeling like it’s broken. Beyond repair. Ready for the trash heap.
How has that impacted your voice and your time on stage?
Has anyone in your life, be it a doctor, a voice teacher, a physical therapist or a coach ever looked, like REALLY looked and seen all of you? Seen you as one gorgeous whole where every part depends on another?
And, after they were done looking helped you to feel hopeful about what’s ahead and not just more broken and in need of fixing?
Here’s the truth: you don’t need to be fixed because you aren’t broken.
What you need is to reintegrate your physical self with your voice. They depend on one another.
I spent years feeling as though my body was broken. At times it hurt, it didn’t function correctly and I got the same feedback over and over from voice teachers and coaches “your breath is off…do you know you have tension in your neck…could you try it this way…”
Yet no one was able to tell me what was going on, vocal technique never solved the issues and I was left wondering and feeling less-than as a singer.
My work brings the idea of Vocal Interdependence to the singing world. The voice depends on all the other systems of the body and if we look outside of the (voice) box we find solutions to the niggling issues that vocal technique never touches.
I’m a yogi turned movement educator…a little buddhist, a little badass…with a whole lotta love for all things voice and body. Pronouns are she/her.
Nearly 19 years ago I walked into my first yoga class as a young(er) singer who thought she was pretty fit. Actually, I was overly flexible and weak in many key places in the body. I chalked my aches and pains up to the life of an active person and sometimes yoga made them better, but many times yoga made them worse. Those same patterns of physical tension and weakness impacted my singing as well. I never felt totally free and comfortable on stage. Despite singing at a high level, teachers and coaches were always pointing out that there were subtle issues with my breath and sound, and noted my wonky neck patterns, but no one could tell me exactly what was going on, let alone what to do about it.
As I began my teaching career, I discovered that nearly every voice had some version of the challenges I experienced and I began to incorporate elements of yoga into lessons; breathing, moving and mindfulness and saw the results of voices making quick changes for the better.
Ten years into teaching voice, the birth of my second child left me with a body that felt like it imploded. I spent the first two weeks of his life flat on my back, unable to move after my entire back seized up post delivery.
I felt so much shame to be a yoga teacher who was so injured and also felt deeply betrayed by my body. Eventually I pulled up my big girl undies and decided I wasn’t going to be broken, I was going to be a badass. I wasn’t willing to live with nagging tension headaches, constant low back pain, and sneeze/cough/run/jump pee. I was going to feel good again and do what it took to get there.
That meant expanding my movement lens to study yoga as therapy and other movement modalities like Restorative Exercise™ and majorly changing my relationship with my body. Within a year I regained function and in fact had fewer aches and pains than I did as a 20-something when I was ‘super fit’.
As I put together new understandings of the whole body, breath and voice through biomechanics, movement, pain science, and applying that understanding, I developed a much deeper appreciation of and ability to work with the whole body as a singer’s instrument.
Now, I’m on a mission to help singers become the boss of their body – creating a sense of safety and trust in the body by moving with intention in ways that bring about less pain and better function through control and coordination.
The fine print:
- MA in Vocal Pedagogy and MM in Vocal Performance, both from The Ohio State University
- Additional coursework in Voice Disorders from the MGH Institute of Health Professionals
- 500 hr Certified Yoga Teacher with Barbara Benagh
- Additional studies in Yoga as Therapy with Susi Hately
- Multi-Year Restorative Exercise/Nutritious Movement™ Training Program with Katy Bowman
- 18+ years of experience teaching voice
- 13 years on the Holden Voice Faculty at Harvard University
- Frequent clinician and writer of articles in publications like Classical Singer and Boston Singer’s Resource
- Presenter at Regional and National NATS conventions, 2009, 2011, 2016
- Workshops at Boston Conservatory, New England Conservatory, Harvard University, Swarthmore, Wheaton College, Walnut Hill School, Rivers School Conservatory, South Shore Conservatory