Functional voice training is a term that can be used to describe a voice development process focusing on the isolation, development, and coordination of two registers, chest and falsetto. Scientists in the twenty-first century can see the laryngeal mechanism at work using highly sophisticated technology confirming what master voice teachers were aware of long ago. The basic register mechanisms, chest and falsetto, are defined as a series of homogeneous sounds produced by one muscle system that differ in quality from another series of homogeneous sounds produced by a different muscle system. These two muscles must coordinate, either well or badly, so that one is able to sing since this laryngeal mechanism is the source of all vocal tone. Consequently, exercises consisting of pitch, volume, and vowel can be used to reflexively stimulate these muscle systems thereby, over a sufficient amount of time, correcting deficiencies in development and coordination.

Singing & Science?

Singing is expressive of inner emotions; rewarding and bringing much joy. Singing is also complicated involving complex muscular activity and moving air. “Voice” is the end result of this coordinative process. Skilled voice teachers must be able to access and correct a poorly adjusted laryngeal mechanism, as well as being able to address size and shape of vowels in relation to pitch, and a proper movement of the breath.

Scientists have discovered principles by which all function, including voice. Everyone has a vocal apparatus just like everyone has eyes. Our eyes at 20/20 vision operate normally. Sometimes there is impairment. Doctors know how the eyes work, and give medicine designed to treat each vision problem; restoring the eyes as close as possible to 20/20. The voice works in a similar way. Everyone has specific vocal issues and needs different medicine, but the goal is the same: restore optimal performance by adherence to discoverable objective scientific laws and principles.  Focus on facts and evidence!

Work On The Cause!

Functional voice training is a natural growth process that reveals and allows voice by exploring cause and effect relationships.  This revealing is accomplished through the usage of exercises specifically designed to address coordination at the sound source rather than focusing upon symptoms as the starting point.  Therefore, the registration balance is of primary importance.  When the vocal cords and the muscles that draw them into balanced equilibrium function well, the precondition for proper size and shape of vowel and healthy movement of air has been met.  In other words, when the vocal cords work right, there are two basic happenings: 1. the vowel is able to adjust itself in an automatic manner according to the pitch due to information sent from the vocal cords to the mouth-pharynx, and 2. airflow is controlled by the vocal cords properly adjusted and acting as a valve; letting out how much air needs to go out for the pitch and volume.  As a result, the moving muscles and moving air sync up with proper vowel formation, and the singer experiences a resounding of the tone wherein there is an automatic projection and vocal quality improves.  Know the cause, and work on the cause.  Get results!   

*The vocal technique I share is from Dr. Joel Ewing. His knowledge was gained from direct studies with E. Herbert-Caesari, Cornelius Reid, and William Vennard.