(2) The Importance of a Balanced, Stable Larynx:... - Voice Soaring Studios | Jeff Alani Stanfill

The Importance of a Balanced, Stable Larynx: Part 1. I've talked about my journey to find a vocal technique that worked in previous posts. And I've detailed how I found David Jones in 1999 soon after a brief time of study with the late Leona Matthews. David introduced me to the concepts of the Swedish-Italian vocal technique that completely changed my voice, and are the principles I teach here at the studio. One of the foundational principles of the technique that made the biggest difference in my overall vocal health and singing career was a balance, stable larynx. This is something I did not have prior to my studies with Maestro Jones. I knew that the larynx was supposed to be in a comfortable, lower position. My first teacher Dr. Carole Clifford began the process of getting my larynx to drop, but our time together was so brief, and her main goal was to help me prepare for college auditions which she did successfully, helping me to land a partial scholarship at a very large music school that shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. This university (like many large schools at the time), was a factory that basically turned out cookie cutter singers whom they felt needed a particular, generic sound in order to succeed. Being the factory that it was, incoming students were often placed with grad students who needed a certain amount of teaching hours to fulfill their graduate requirements. The teacher I was placed with in that first semester no more wanted to teach a young, inexperienced singer like me, anymore than I wanted to study with an only slightly older inexperienced teacher like him! After one semester with said teacher, the wonderful work that Dr. Clifford had begun, began to unravel. I was later transferred to the next teacher who was known as the "Tenor on Staff". I was so hoping that this nice gentlemen would give me my free high notes, a stable larynx, and all the knowledge I needed to become a great singer. Boy was I wrong. This teacher's entire technique was based on an over abundance of nasal resonance bordering on complete nasality. After two semesters of study with this guy, my high notes that were still in their infancy, were completely gone. I couldn't sing above a G4 to save my life. My larynx felt like it was in my nose. Rather than give you the disastrous details of working with the next 5 or 6 teachers, I will tell you that through reading about singers and their approach to vocal technique, I began to find some release in my throat on my own, but it wasn't enough to build an entire technique on. Enter Leona Matthews. In those first lessons with her in 1999, she opened up my breath like no one else. With the freedom I was now experiencing in my breath, my larynx began to drop. It was the most mazing feeling to open my mouth, take a big "yawny breath" and experience an open throat for the first time in my life. The sound was (almost) immediately deeper and fuller due to the lower positioning of the larynx. I had a lot of trouble keeping it down especially as I approached the primo passaggio, but the foundation was being laid for a balanced, stable larynx. As I've mentioned recently and before, I began studying with Maestro David Jones soon after Leona's passing, and he noticed right away that my larynx did not want to remain in a comfortable lower position for more than a few notes on an ascending scale. It was quite frustrating for me because I knew what was supposed to happen, but the larynx still wanted to pop up on anything around the upper passaggio. David is a kind, patient teacher who knows that vocal issues like this are not solved quickly. It can take weeks, months, even years to balance a larynx that has been unbalanced for as long as mine had been. He gave me exercises that were doing an amazing job of maintaining laryngeal stability and would often say about a particular exercise that worked well "Stay after this. It's working!" In part two of this post, I will share with you guys some tips and exercises that helped me stabilize my larynx and have helped my students for the past 17 years. Good night and sweet dreams. Jeff


Jeffrey Stanfill