How long does it take to balance a thoroughly satisfying chest voice with a totally satisfying head voice?
Will it be beautiful the first time? Will you get a great sound the first time you try to balance two complete sides?
In breathing: Are you a pushing out type or a pulling in type?
In resonance, do you think about “putting it forward” or “opening up the back space?”
When you do an [i] vowel such as in the word “feel,” do you close your mouth?
Low larynx or high soft palate?
Full-bodied or floaty light?
One register or two or three or five?
Either/or is the singers’s Hell! The world is full of proponents of one side or the other, which leads to a dissatisfying polarization that is just as responsible for the decay of the operatic arts as bottom-feeding agents and stage-directors who do not read music.
Balancing a thoroughly satisfying sensation of substance with a flexibly flowing light mechanism is the goal in every part of the register. But in a world bent on immediate gratification, singers and teachers rarely allow themselves the natural process of “necessary imbalance” in order to accomplish true balance. Singers are so afraid of making a less than perfect sound that they do not allow themselves the experience of developing true balance.
One process that begins with wobbly legs: such as babies learning to walk! Wobbly legs lead to perfect balanced walking, just as a true technique often begins with an unsteady voice and over time develops into true balance whereby no aspect is sacrificed.
Compression and flow are parts of one inter-dependent system. Paradoxical and total! The folds close gently but completely once substance and stretch have been balanced and a balance between compression and flow is a reality. Resonance is a three part system that includes a low larynx, a tongue that is flexible and does not retract and a jaw that releases regardless of vowel.
In singing, things that seem like opposites are rather necessary parts of a more complete system. But how many singers or teachers for that matter are patient and courageous enough to figure out ten elements that balance with each other without any of them being sacrificed?
Most singers come into singing with one or several of those parts unconsciously trained from speaking habits and early musical experiences. Those are the parts they must reexamine! Unfortunately these are the parts they too often take for granted and do not include in their teaching.
We must examine ourselves! We must make sense of the total package including the parts that we did not have to struggle with. Otherwise, we remain forever partial teachers never understanding the whole.
A great and total technique takes us through many steps without altering its principles. The voice changes until it is balanced. The technical precepts remain the same. Over time, the singer manages to balance 10 elements without ever sacrificing one or the other. At that point, true balance is achieved and the multi-faceted nature of the instrument is discovered.
Beware of one-sided singing and embrace the juggling act or the tight-rope act that is balance in singing!