Chris is commissioned to work with groups and individuals on short term voice projects such as preparation for touring or recording. She also works with individual singers in order to work on specific singing goals. Please contact Chris to discuss your needs.
She has been privileged to work with the wonderful Annamation to prepare for touring — — www.Annamation.co.uk
The fabulous Lament www.lament.info who are currently touring with Live and Local
And many many singers who now sing solo or with choirs in the area.
Working with the Natural Voice and not Against it!
Singing is our birth right and as a member of The Natural Voice Practitioners Network I work to support people to sing and develop their natural voice using teaching methods that are accepting and inclusive of all, regardless of musical experience and ability.
Read further and see how Chris uses these principles in her teaching and why her group members say things like:
“To discover my own natural voice is like finding part of my soul” one participant said. “What I love about this class is that you assumed that I could sing from the very start and that was very empowering. I can sing and I am singing.”
For thousands of years all over the world people have sung — to express joy, celebration and grief, to accompany work and devotion, to aid healing — without worrying about having a “good” voice or “getting it right”. Song has been a part of life, a way of binding the community together. We aim to recreate the sense that vocalising, singing and singing together are natural and open to all.
Each person’s voice is as unique as their fingerprint and, respecting that individuality, we aim to provide people with opportunities to express themselves vocally and to develop their full vocal potential. The voice we are born with is capable of freely expressing a full range of emotions, thoughts and experience – this is what we mean by the “natural voice”. However, the tensions and stresses of daily life create physical and emotional blocks to the natural voice. We therefore focus on breath and bodywork as the foundations of healthy voice use.
We are principally concerned with the melodic voice — the voice as it moves from speech to melody — the voice that is instinctively used in folk traditions around the world. In this culture many people see themselves as non-singers because of previous experiences of criticism and judgement. Many are excluded from singing groups if they do not have music reading skills. Therefore, in our work we aim to counteract these experiences and to give people confidence in their melodic voice by providing a supportive learning environment.
How Chris works with this philosophy
The human voice is indeed a unique instrument. Unlike any other instrument on earth, we carry it with us all of our lives, if we’re lucky. We use it every day in a variety of ways; to call, shout, laugh, cry, speak, hum, sneeze whisper, chant, etc. or we can use it to replicate other sounds, such as bird song, the beating of a drum, a steam train, the ringing of a telephone; the list is endless and yes, sometimes we use it to sing. What an extraordinary instrument we posses.
So why is it that singing seems to have such an impact on those who fear it and why do they fear it?
History and psychologists tell us that it is our own fear that is our enemy, or that others have instilled in us this reluctance to experiment with making different sounds with our voice. Or maybe there’s another reason and because singing is a sound that we make, that we produce from inside ourselves, from nothing and nowhere, and heaven forbid, it might just be the wrong sound… it makes us fear the sound of our own voice even more! But hey, the good thing about making a ‘wrong’ sound is that you can also make a ‘right’ sound, right?
So when does wrong become wrong any way, and who says it’s wrong??
Sounds only become the wrong sound if we’re singing a certain tune or melody ‘out of the designated tune’ hence the term ‘singing out of tune’ OR if we’re singing in harmony with others and we’re not singing a harmony, we’re singing ‘out of tune’. Even then, MOST sounds are right, but people always want to point out the ones that are wrong. So I’m in favour of ALL sounds, right or wrong. ‘Perceived’ wrong sounds are sometimes really interesting and can ultimately become the right sound, to create a dissonant harmony for example.
Understanding that the sounds we make in singing are merely an extension of the sounds we make as part of every day life helps in changing the way people think about singing!
If we go to a classical concert, the musicians ‘tune up’, they get in tune with one another, in other words, they ‘warm up’. Isn’t this what we all need to do to be able to sing and use our voice to the best possible advantage? They’re taking care of their instruments and we need to take care of ours in the same way.
The human voice dwells inside each and every one of us and singing is indeed our birthright, getting to know what it’s capable of and using it to sing, sets it free.
I’ve been singing and teaching for many years so when I began teaching singing to less confident singers, I instinctively felt it necessary to develop a routine to follow, to get into the zone, so to speak. So ALL my classes begin with a simple relaxation and without exception everyone finds this very beneficial. It’s a simple and effective way of preparing the whole body to sing. Many have said it’s an inspirational class as they also find out how their voice works, why it doesn’t work in the way they want it to and how they can use a range of techniques to find their true voice and sing out. In other words they learn how to take control.
Physical warm-ups follow and then into vocal warm-ups using breathing, humming, pitching and focussing on concentrating and listening skills, essential to be able to sing in tune and sing songs together.
Using simple songs that produce beautiful sounds quickly, gives people confidence, and so it grows from there. So we’re growing in every sense of the word. We don’t use written music score as everything is taught by ear, I sing it, they sing it style, (in the aural/oral tradition) and EVERYONE is welcome.
So EVERYONE can sing and everyone who attends DOES sing, even though some start with the belief that they can’t. They have either not sung ever before, someone has told them NOT to sing, they have mimed for years, sung quietly, sung only in isolation or in the privacy of their own home.
When Rabindranoth Tagore wrote;
“When Thou commandest me to sing, it seems that my heart would break with pride; and I look to Thy face, and tears come to my eyes. All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet harmony and my adoration spreads wings like a glad bird on its flight across the sea… I touch by the edge of the far-spreading wing of my song thy feet which I could never aspire to reach. Drunk with the joy of singing, I forget myself and call thee friend.”
he summed up perfectly the feelings I and many others singers feel during and after singing. Many many times I’ve heard people say that the only time they are truly distracted and fully engaged is when they sing! People say their pain lessens, they become less anxious and even if they’re tired after a hard day at work, singing energizes them and they go home on a high.
Little wonder then that everyone who discovers singing and how great it can feel to sing, never want to stop. That’s how it is for me, so no matter what limitations others may place on me, I’ll always sing! How can I keep from singing?