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Pilates2Voice®: A New Mind-Body Technique for Voice Professionals focusing on Proprioceptive Training

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Pilates2Voice®: A New Mind-Body Technique for Voice Professionals focusing on Proprioceptive Training.
Veera Asher, DMA

Lecture Portion:

What is a Mind-Body Technique? Most voice professionals are familiar with The

Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais and yoga. A mind-body technique defined through the

science of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) supports a new technique for voice

professionals called Pilates2Voice®.
Pilates2Voice® is an innovative mind-body technique that integrates Pilates-and-voice

training methods: based on the dissertation, “The Olympic Singer: Integrating Pilates Training

into the Voice Studio.” Singers who practice Pilates2Voice® see improved posture, breath

management, mind-body conditioning, muscle-reaction time, vocal range, resonance and

articulation. Pilates2Voice® applies to any style of singing, and helps to prevent potential

overuse injury.

Pilates2Voice® is a stand alone technique from Pilates in that it applies precision mindbody

technology specific to voice performance. Pilates2Voice® uses proprioception and a

system of physical exercises that dictate a mind-body sequence identifying the power source for

peak vocal performance. Pilates2Voice® is unique in that it also introduces the use of ‘voicing’

during the physical exercises to monitor the degree of recruitment of the deep proprioceptive

‘core’ muscles associated with optimal breath management and healthy vocal production.

Pilates2Voice® does not negate other mind-body techniques, but rather, presents new

training and diagnostic tools to help measure the improved strength and stamina associated with

high-level voice performance. It is not a teacher dependent technique once facilitation is no

longer needed by a certified Pilates2Voice® instructor. Pilates2Voice® continues to be part of

groundbreaking medical-performance collaborations with other voice professionals including

laryngologists, physical therapists, music therapists, speech pathologists and voice teachers.

Workshop Portion:

1. Discussion and demonstration of the Pilates2Voice® Technique

i. Description of the 3 SEQUENCES:

1. Basic Sequence

a. focusing on Posture and Jaw-Release, Volition and Respiration

2. Intermediate Sequence

a. adding a focus on Phonation

3. Advanced Sequence

a. adding a focus on the tongue and its relation to Vocal Resonation and Articulation

2. The DOs and DON’Ts of “perfect practicing” for the singer, based on physical therapy, Pilates and proprioceptive training principles.
3. Discussion on the benefits of each area of focus in a routine mat repertoire class with props:

a. Benefits include, optimal:

 Body Symmetry

 Posture

 Breath Management & Breath Control

 Vocal Power and Stamina

 Mind-Body Sequencing & Conditioning

 Vocal Resonance

 Verbal Articulation

 Mental Control and Endurance

 Increased vocal range

 Vocal Versatility (e.g. various singing styles from Belt to Legit and Opera)

 Diagnostic/Reeducation Tool: re: respiratory dysfunction and overuse vocal injury

 Training Tool: for the Hybrid Performing Artist™

 Reduced Performance Anxiety

 Personal confidence

 Health and Wellness for all ages
4. Information on how one would monitor and measure the progress and development of a student’s performance of an exercise.
5. A demonstration and discussion for voice professionals not trained in a Pilates method:

a. Introduction of some basic Pilates2Voice® exercises for singers can be used in the private studio.

b. Observations and assessments that can help identify weaknesses in a student’s performance.
6. Final questions or discussion regarding the practical applications and/or the voice science aspects of the Pilates2Voice® Technique.
The session will conclude with recommendations on how we can increase awareness regarding the benefits of Pilates2Voice® and other mind-body techniques for singers, and how it can be further integrated into areas of vocal instruction.

An ABC-analyzing method™ of functional imbalances in singing and the speaking voice
Ritva Eerola

Sibelius Academy / Music Education department and Folk Music department

The most common diagnostic of the functional voice disorders has been hypo- or hyperfunction, which has been diagnosed in laryngoscopy by a phoniatrian or ENT-doctor. The other evaluation methods have been mainly concentrated on describing the surface quality of the voice as hoarse, breathy, astenic etc. These methods are also frequently used more in analyzing the speaking voice.
From the practical point of view I have developed the ABC-method™, which is based on analyzing the vocal function as a whole, how the whole human instrument is working. The basic symbols correlates: A ➜ body; B ➜ larynx and C ➜ head. The functional symbols: x ➜ too much tension locally and o ➜ too much expansion locally. Its purpose is to evaluate the concentration of the basic energy and categorize vocal function vertically. These different types will also be presented acoustically (Praat and Voce vista).
This can easily be used by voice teachers and voice therapists, who are guiding their students or clients by diagnostic hearing. This is a form of motoric imitation as McKinney has written in his book. It is possible to sense by listening to a singer or speaker how the muscles are working (as Moses named it 'creative hearing'). When we concentrate on listening with the diagnostic hearing, we can sense the same function in our body. This ability is an important tool in voice therapy and teaching of singing.       
This evaluation method is part of my Balance in Phonation -training method™ that I have developed over the years. This training method can be used for speaking and singing (all genres).      

Yoga for Singers
Linda Lister, DMA

Director of UNLV Opera

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

From opera diva Karita Mattila to Lady Gaga, from Broadway’s Mandy Patinkin to pop star Jason Mraz, singers are doing yoga and experiencing its ability to free their voices and their psyches. In this workshop, participants will learn yoga breathing techniques (pranayama), poses (asanas) & meditation practices (mantras & mudras) that can help singers to improve their breathing & alignment and to combat performance anxiety.
An outgrowth of my book Yoga for Singers: Freeing Your Voice and Spirit through Yoga, this hands-on session will teach yoga poses (asanas) that are helpful and relevant to singers. Focusing on the Iyengar school of hatha yoga, the session will incorporate poses (asanas) as relating to movement and alignment for singers. In addition, there will be an introduction to yoga breathing techniques called pranayama (breath control). The final element will be mantras, mudras, and meditation. Many young singers struggle with performance anxiety, which can be greatly eased by meditation. The session will present the use of mantras (positive mental affirmations), mudras (yoga hand postures) and chanting (nada or sound yoga) to calm the nervous system and center the mind and body.

My Feet ARE Connected To My Larynx? Posture And Singing
Marina Gilman MM MA CCC-SLP

Department of Otolaryngology Emory University

Speech-Language Pathology

The Emory Voice Center

Atlanta, Georgia

The importance of posture in vocal training for singing and the theater is commonly recognized. Aside from admonitions for the singer to ‘stand up straight, chin up, chest up, stomach in’ there are few exercises in the pedagogical arsenal that helps teachers and therapists improve posture in any dynamic way. In the realm of voice rehabilitation, a number of excellent articles validate the efficacy of laryngeal manipulation as treatment for muscle tension dysphonia or tension of the neck, shoulder girdle, base of tongue, or extrinsic muscles of the larynx (Roy and Leeper 1993, Roy, Bless, Heisey and Ford 1997, Van Houtte 2011, Lieberman 1998, Aronson, 1990, Roy and Leeper 1993, Mathieson, 2011, Greene and Mathieson 1991). In this author’s personal experience, they are sometimes also used in the voice studio, but not generally part of the pedagogical toolbox for addressing upper body tension. These techniques are designed for symptomatic relief with the underlying assumption that once the tension is released the individual will be able to make the necessary internal adjustments to maintain the improved vocal function. While these techniques are primarily used in the context of voice therapy, there is no reason why they cannot or should not be adapted to the voice studio with appropriate training by the teacher.

While there is a growing body research on the effect of posture on voice, scientific studies are still small in number and limited in scope. Giovanni, Aki and Ouaknine (2008) and Lagier et al (2010) investigated the relationship between vocal effort and posture. Both studies were based on the premise that vocal hyperfunction resulted in part from postural instability. In fact their findings suggested that increased vocal intensity appears to correlate with increased overall postural activity. Changes in gross body position, supine vs. upright, have been examined in relation to specific muscles of the tongue and larynx, (Takahashi et al, 2002), respiration (Hoit, 1995, Hixon,1976) , and lung volume as related to subglottal pressure (Sundberg et al, 1991). Other studies have examined the activation patterns of the muscles of respiration, the chest wall as well as the shoulder, neck and trunk muscles during phonation. (Pettersen 2005, Pettersen and Westgaard, 2004, Johnson and Skinner 2009). Gilman, unpublished, explores the impact of head position on the aerodynamic and acoustic output of the sound. Preliminary results suggest that in addition to increased phonatory effort, there are subtle changes in the harmonic output in some positions. While most of these studies were small and exploratory in nature they do build a body of work that reinforces the long held assumption that a dynamic relationship between posture and vocal production exists.
The problem remains, when confronted with a singer whose technical limitations, including suboptimal resonance, are potentially related to posture, how can the singing teacher or voice therapist teach improved posture so it can be truly embodied? How does the teacher/therapist 1) recognize that the problem may be related to ‘inefficient’ posture and 2) if so, then how can one go about teaching or guiding the singer to discover more efficient patterns. Merely asking the person to stand or sit ‘straight’, ‘relax the shoulders’ etc, does not provide them with the tools necessary to make and maintain the internal adjustments necessary to reduce laryngeal, tension and/or sing freely.

Somatic education methods, such as the Alexander Technique or the Feldenkrais Method® teach increased awareness of body use patterns that enhance voice production. Through hands-on manipulation or verbally directed lessons, students learn to move, stand, sit and by extension sing and talk with increased ease. Both Feldenkrais and Alexander understood that no one part of the body is isolated from any other part of the body. Poor balance can be as detrimental to good singing as excessive neck tension and may even be a significant contributor to neck tension. Learning, not through cognitive study, but somatic experience allows the singer to feel the changes and provides options for movement.

This interactive workshop will explore some of the postural dynamics that can change respiratory and phonatory function and improve resonance. Participants will learn specific lessons and movement sequences that will help singers (with and without) pathologies to release laryngeal tension and improve respiratory/phonatory coordination.
Giovanni A, Aki L, Ouaknine M. Postural dynamics and vocal effort; preliminary experimental analysis. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopedica. 2008;60:80-85.
Lagier A, Vaugoyeau M, Ghio A, Legou T, Giovanni A, Assaiante C. Coordination between posture and phonation in vocal effort behavior. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopedica. 2010;62:195-202.
Takahashi S, Ono T, Ishiwata Y, Kuroda T. Breathing modes, body positions, and suprahyoid activity. Journal of Orthodontics. 2002;29:307-313.
Hoit J. Influence of Body Posture on Breathing and its implications for the evaluation and treatment of speech and voice disorders. J Voice. 1995;9(4):341-347.
Hixon T. Dynamics of the chest wall during speech production: function of the thorax, rib cage, diaphragm and abdomen. Journal of speech and hearing research. 1976;19:297-356.
Sundberg J, Leanderson R, von Euler C, Knutsson E. Influence of body posture and lung volume on subglottal pressure control during singing. J Voice. 1991;5(4):283-291.

Friday, October 19, 2012
The technic of “cover” in romantic Italian operatic baritone singing compared to baritones trained in the so-called German tradition.
Hubert Noé, M.D., laryngologist, voice teacher

Fürstenfeld, Austria

In 1955 the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera New York Sir Rudolf Bing had to resort to a trick in order to engage his favorite German baritone Josef Metternich for leading Verdi roles such as Don Carlo and Renato, respectively, in La forza del destino and Un ballo in Maschera . Bing referred to him as the only German baritone who could sing like an Italian. Connoisseurs of the baritono drammatico in Verdi of course immediately understood Bing, although there were no clear criteria for this preference of the so-called Italian vocal technique. Today, spectrum analysis shows the significant acoustic differences in real time. It turns out that not only great “Italian baritones" as Warren, Merrill, Bastianini, Herlea, Capucilli or Zancanaro meet these criteria. Exemplary recordings are easily accessible to study the great singers, leading to a certain international convergence in vocal technique. In addition, the development of the “typical German” baritone is discussed using the program VoceVista. The study aims at a better understanding of high baritone singing in different national traditions.

The Nasometer as a Pedagogic Tool: Preliminary Findings
Nicholas Perna, DMA

Assistant Professor of Music

West Virginia University

Studies on nasalance of the singing voice can be traced at least as far back as 1995. A study by Richard Miller and William McIver investigated the effects of nasal consonants on vowels using a Nasometer. They found of their male, undergraduate voice students, twelve of fifteen sang [i] with nasality. Conversely, no women sang [i] with nasality. Two of fifteen men showed nasalance on [e] and [u], and four of fifteen men showed nasalance on [a] and [o]. This study was conducted using pitches that were all in a comfortable middle register.

A study by Linda Fowler and Richard Morris measured nasalance in thirty-six trained female singers at three frequency levels. They found that nasalance scores were much higher for front vowels, and that nasalance scores were higher at lower frequencies and lower at higher frequencies. They claimed this confirms the practice of training singers to elevate the velum when singing higher pitches. In a study on nasalance by Jori Jennings and David Kuehn, male subjects were found to have had increased nasalance as frequency increased. A study by Peer Birch, et. al. investigated nasalance in different registers of the operatic voice. They also had expert listeners rate perceived nasality to compare that data to nasalance without success. Little user reliability was found between perceived nasality and nasalance. A study by Perna found that tenors employ increased nasalance as they ascend through passaggio into head voice on the vowel [a].
Given the data, and the growing popularity of real-time visual feedback during the instruction of singing, it seems worthwhile to scrutinize the effectiveness of the Nasometer as a pedagogic tool for use in the voice studio. This project is aiming to isolate the effectiveness of the signal alone in training nasality. A yet undetermined pool of undergraduate voice subjects will sing the same series of exercises each week for 10 weeks during the fall semester of 2012. The subjects will be given a brief explanation of the display screen, which they will watch during the testing. This will allow the subjects to monitor their nasalance in real-time during the exercises. They will be asked to sing a descending five-note scale on [pi], [pa], and [pu] in a comfortable register for their voice type. In addition they will sing an ascending-descending five-note scale on each of the three vowels [i, a, u].
Nasalance will be monitored week by week to attempt a determination as to whether the visual feedback from the Nasometer is aiding the student to decrease or increase their nasalance. The assumption is being made that at some point during their course of study their teacher has discussed or demonstrated a tonal concept that either discourages, or encourages nasality. Therefore, freshmen will not be eligible for participation as subjects. Upon the mid-point of the study, the subjects will be asked whether or not their tonal goal is less or more nasality, for data comparison. The first five weeks of data will be collected and analyzed in time for presentation at PAS 6 in Las Vegas.


The effect of conductor preparatory head, shoulder, and hand movements on singer extrinsic laryngeal muscle engagement and voicing behaviors
Jeremy N. Manternach, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Choral Music Education

The University of Arizona, School of Music
This study was designed to examine whether varied nonverbal conductor behaviors during an initial preparatory gesture affected singers’ (N = 23, n = 15 experienced, n = 8 naïve) extrinsic laryngeal muscle engagement and voicing behaviors. Participants sang the first phrase melody of Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus eight times while following a videotaped conductor who displayed the following fully-crossed preparatory gesture conditions: (a) upward moving or downward moving arm, (b) upward moving head with intentional posterior neck and shoulder tension or neutral head positioning, and (c) clenched fist with intentional arm tension or open palm. Surface electromyographic (EMG) electrodes measured singer muscle responses in the suprahyoid (SH), posterior neck PN), upper trapezius (TR) and sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle regions. Audio recordings provided data for acoustic (Fo, Amplitude, spectrographic onset, and Formant Frequency Profiles) and perceptual (heard onset and vocal timbre) evaluations. Results were discussed in terms of efficiency of breathing and voicing resulting from certain conducting gestures.
(N.B. Data analysis is currently in progress)

Effects of short-term postural correction on voice characteristics in undergraduate voice majors
Melody Rich, DMA

Hardin-Simmons University Department of Music

Abilene, TX
Robert Friberg PhD, PT

Hardin-Simmons University Departments of Physical Therapy

Abilene, TX

PURPOSE: Voice students are instructed during their weekly voice lessons to attain appropriate posture for singing and are then expected to maintain the posture at all other times of singing throughout the week through self-monitoring. The purpose of this study is to examine if this common strategy is effective in modifying the postural behavior.

The hypotheses are: (1) Examine the effect of standing posture on selected characteristics of singing in undergraduate voice majors. (Characteristics: efficiency in breathing, phonatory control, the presence or absence of vibrato, and vibrato consistency across vowel changes) 2) Determine if undergraduate voice majors are able to change postures after participating in a short-term postural awareness program.

SUBJECTS: Hardin-Simmons University undergraduate voice majors, n=30, (M=11, F=19) were evaluated by four physical therapy students and a faculty member from music. METHODS: Participants signed an informed consent prior to participation. Participants were randomly assigned to control and treatment groups. To assess posture, fluorescent markers were placed on the tragus of the ear, lateral acromion process, greater trochanter, lateral femoral condyle, and lateral malleolus. Participants were photographed in their typical standing postures from a sagittal view. Posture Analysis Software System (PASS) was used to analyze angles between the landmarks. The treatment group was instructed in assuming a biomechanically appropriate posture confirmed with a vertical compression force that did not cause buckling of the shoulder girdle or spine. The treatment group was told to assume and maintain the proper posture for 15 seconds once every waking hour. Both groups were instructed to return two weeks after the initial posture assessment. Three measurements were taken to assess progression in singing. For the first measurement, the circumference of the participant’s rib cage was measured prior to inhalation as well as after inhalation to measure excursion of ribcage for full-singing breath inhalation. Using a stop watch, the participant was then timed for duration while hissing on /s/. For the second measurement, participants were positioned 5 feet away from the decibel meter (Quest Technologies Impulse Sound Level Meter Model 2700/Model OB-50 Octave Filter Set ) set at mouth level, then instructed to inhale for full-breath singing and sing the vowel /a/ sustained for maximum duration on a designated pitch in the middle of his/her voice (soprano- C5, alto-F4, tenor C4, baritone F4). At subsequent tests, the participant was instructed to sing the same pitch, first at a decibel level that felt comfortable, then again at the same decibel level (up to a 3 point difference) as on the baseline for comparison and for consistency. For the third measurement, participants were instructed to sing the vowel series /a e i o u/ on the same pitch as measurement two, allowing one second for each vowel. Each participant sang into a decibel meter to measure intensity of the pitch for baseline measurement and a microphone to record the spectrogram from which pitch and frequency of vibrato were further analyzed using the VoceVista software program. At subsequent tests, the participant was instructed to sing first at a decibel level that felt comfortable, then again at the same decibel as he/she did on the baseline (up to a 3 point difference) for comparison and for consistency. After one week, the treatment group met with researchers to undergo another standing postural training session. They were again told to return one week later, along with the control group for final posture testing. Final voice measures were taken in a similar manner as previously described. A MANOVA (PASW 19.0) was computed to determine the effect of active standing treatment on (1) rate of vibrato, (2) percent change in vibrato, and (3) median pitch. An independent samples t-test was computed to determine if subjects were able to effectively change postures as a result of treatment. RESULTS: There was no significant difference between groups prior to intervention. After postural intervention, there was no significant difference between groups regarding; Hz (p=.417), percent change in vibrato (p=.383), or pitch median (p=.123). There was no significant difference regarding posture with the exception of the ear to shoulder angle showing less deviation from midline for the treatment group (p=.0045). Although not significant, the shoulder to hip angle showed a trend toward decreasing deviation from midline (p=.09).
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