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World Voice Day Melbourne, 2015, with the Australian Voice Association

World Voice Day 2015

On Thursday 16th of April I had the pleasure of being a part of World Voice Day 2015, at the Australian Voice Association’s Melbourne event. In the beautiful setting of Library on the Dock, about 40 attendees, mostly choral singers, came to learn about vocal anatomy & health.

My fellow presenters included ENT surgeon Dr. Amanda Richards, and speech pathologist Meaghan Sullivan, both of whom gave informative & entertaining presentations on vocal anatomy & health.

I particularly enjoyed Meaghan’s idea of the “vocal bucket”. Even if you have good vocal technique, your vocal folds are muscles like any other in the body, and they can be fatigued from overuse. You have a “bucket” of vocal use on any given day, and when you use your voice you are filling it up, and it can overflow.

Singing is more taxing on the voice than speaking, because it usually involves taking your voice higher than your usual speech pitch; the higher the pitch produces by the vocal folds, the faster they are vibrating – they collide with each other hundreds of times a second, so going higher fills up your vocal bucket faster!

Before the event I wasn’t quite sure what the other presenters would be including in their presentations, so I decided to keep my speech, at the start of the event, away from vocal anatomy, leaving that to the medical professionals. I focused more on something which I see commonly in so many singers – the shying away from identifying oneself as “a singer”, despite doing a lot of singing!

Do you sing or play music and not consider yourself a singer or a musician? Do you feel there is a requirement of some kind you have to have – qualifications, earning money, amount of time spent doing it – to call yourself a singer/musician? Did this “requirement” come from something someone else told you, or just from your own head? Is it completely arbitrary? I am putting together a video presentation about this topic, so stay tuned for that!

At the end of the evening, after Meaghan and Amanda had given their presentations, I finished the event with a couple of quick interactive exercises, talking about the useful concept of Effort Numbering which I learned through the Estill model, and how it can apply to things such as “mouth effort” and “breath effort vs vocal effort”. This part of my presentation was not planned and as such felt a little rushed and underprepared, but the audience seemed to enjoy it nonetheless!

In retrospect, I would have liked to teach the assembled singers about the false vocal folds and how to retract them; but I also didn’t want to keep everyone sitting & listening too long at that time of the evening when they’d already absorbed a lot of information. Ah well, save it for next time!

It was a lovely evening, thankyou so much to the Australian Voice Association for asking me to be a part of it, thankyou to Amanda & Meaghan for your fantastic presentations, and thankyou to everyone who came along and participated and asked questions!

Click here for a review of the event written by Jason from the Melbourne Contemporary Choir.