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Ingredients to develop

The Right Vocal Attitude

 A Menu to Feed the Vocal Mind

 by Jesús Quiñones Ledesma


Points to be consider

 Here are some of the aspects that can be discovered in a vocal seminar, while learning the basics things of the placement of the voice and approaching the right attitude to achieve it.

·       Introduction

·       Preface

·       The Right Attitude

·       Things to Review

What do our decisions have to do with the vocal balance in our singing process?

 A clever and intelligent decision to build our vocal confidence should be part of the broad vision of a singer. We have to think ahead of time in case possible vocal problems occur during the learning process. That's why we study to develop our voice and mind together at the same time. Without a strong mind is not possible to sing technically well. It's not even easy to start doing it half way. It has to be right. It's part of the whole process. The vocal balance depends of our confidence and mental determination. This can be a hard decision for young singers who have to analyze that vocal placement depends more of the mind than of the voice.

What do our emotions have to do with those decisions?

 If we don't know how to deal with our passions and command of our emotions we lose the tranquility that allows the voice to be free of contractions and tensions. That is why many teachers talk about staying cool and mentally focus. The voice can't' suffer of any irregularity since it's the only way to maintain the beauty and natural sincerity, otherwise mental distress can be a damaging factor which isn't good for the vocal process. It should be a must in every singer to keep a balance of the emotional behavior.

Which are our reactions and responses during our vocal process?

This is most important since we have to be in total mental command of the process without allowing the voice to control us. It mostly depends on our personal attitude and the way we react in keeping the vocal process as simple and easy as it should be. If we think there is a difficult situation, during the process, then we can find much tension in our throat and subsequently loose the total abandonment needed to allow the air to ascend properly. We can easily disconnect the whole vocal process if we lose our concentration and that's why the air stops working correctly. To evade it we have to hold the air firmly to form the space, using the diaphragmatic belt as main support and by keeping the air as high as we can we feel the conception of placement. This action is always related to the upper part of the lungs to create the right connection.

The action of connection functions like if we were playing an accordion or looking at a shock absorber to see how it works. Then we feel the sense of space leaving the voice mentally placed on top of the breath. To do it right we should not allow any physical movement inside of the throat, the tongue should stay sited and relaxed, flexibility is imminent and if we keep the space, with no contractions, the voice finds the way to exit on it's own. Our job is to mentally keep control of the process. With the right support and connection, when we take an instant breath and immediately think how to synchronize the whole technical process, the voice will be free of tensions. Trying to help by instinct is not advisable because that's when we start pushing and is not good for the vocal chords. When we realized that the throat has to stay calm and relaxed then we discover how the air finds its own way out.

Our mental approach for the vocal placement has to evidently find a way to mature and become a daily basic procedure: how the sound stays on top of the breath by feeling and keeping the sensation of space, which is kind of an illusion that mentally and physically creates a sense of emptiness and easiness during the process. The sound should never fall or drop into the space and, if it does it and the air tends to burn, then we instantly loose the conception of support and connection of the voice

Holding the space is a combination of a mental and physical sensation. This makes us feel some sort of suffocation and yawning effect, while we keep precisely equilibrated the support and connection of the voice. The resonance of the sound descends from the upper palate and while we keep the throat open, holding the breath without losing the coordination of the system, the sound floats and stays as high and clear, as it should always be, constantly and mentally kept. This allows the air to arch correctly without any tension while it's focusing towards the lips and keeping an oval shape. This way we reverse the action of singing backwards or in the back of the throat. Also, when laughing and showing the upper teeth in a wide and open way, the voice looses the freedom and starts to sound nasal. This type of sound isn't pleasant to the human ear. We have to approach the best technique and the right vocal attitude to give life to the great feeling of singing well.

Finally we start to own our system with a strong mind. We are experiencing the sensation of freedom in the throat, (to be acquired through a constant process of support, connection, proper space, the voice pointed to the lips with mental control, and clarity to maintain the height), in a uniquely, powerful and synchronize movement. That's when the sound hangs from the top, over the current of air, without any interruption and allowing the resonance to keep the beauty and brightness on its way out. By being owners of the process we are on the right track. Our attitude is relevant during the training and we have to constantly focus on our mental behavior since it becomes part of our whole vocal process.

How do we learn to be more responsive and less reactive during the process of learning the right placement of the voice?

With time and judgment, of what we intend to get through our voice preparation, with desire and intelligence, we can discover the facts and truth of the vocal placement. If we learn how to be on top of the process then we will be more responsive and less reactive to the negative aspects that bring us confusions and vocal transitions.

How do we deal with the fear that upsets the whole vocal process?

Fear is not for intelligent singers. Fear comes from frustrations and negative attitudes. Sometimes we think we know more than others. Somehow it shows how limited we are. If we have the tools we should not be able to give fear a place in our minds.

How do we realize that dealing with our emotions constructively can be important for the emotional, physical and mental well being of what we do with our voice and how it helps us to approach the process of learning the basic things of the Italian vocal method?

Emotions are great things in our lives but in our vocal process we have to learn how to measure those reactions. When we learn how to take care of them then we are in charge. We know how to bring them into our process with the intelligent feeling of vocal wisdom, when to use it right and how to control it emotionally. While we are studding the placement of the voice we have to find a way to mature mentally and physically to overcome the nature of our passions. On such efforts we have to blend our feelings, sentiment and intellect, and the maturing process will depend of the time we need to approach the basics things of the Italian school, which is totally mental and takes years to be developed. If we have faith and trust in what we are doing and we have a good teacher, it's easy then to approach the vocal instruction with success.

We have to understand how to effectively and immediately handle feelings of disappointment and frustration, through the vocal process if it isn't approach correctly.

Of course we have to understand that in life things are not easy, as different as they can look or they can be, but to learn how to sing, which is also extremely different, takes a lot of time and many things that we have to put together during a few years. While we do it we can certainly become disappointed, we can even frustrate ourselves.

It's hard to deal with a time basis, sometimes it takes to long to mature, to be better, to become an artist, but we should never let our desire die. We should see it as a challenge, as a goal. If we can keep very high our expectations our faith will always be alive. Great desires can feed the mind substantially and we have to realize that a strong and healthy mind has the power to fight for the best. Patience is a wise sentiment to keep in mind when we are studding voice technique.

How can we discover the placement and technical concepts during our vocal instruction, when we have to deal with the effort of learning the steps to work things out, while we process feelings of disappointment, frustration and rebuild trust with others and ourselves?

We have to develop a way to insist and prevail in our intentions of learning the basic things of voice technique without allowing negative and bad habits interfere in our vocal preparation. Hard things like those can cost more damage to our desire than our voice. We have to be alert to those circumstances since they can be devastating to our trust. We have to keep our mind strong and mentally focus in our constant search for vocal knowledge. It makes us feel tough and dynamically oriented in pursuing the task. It will help us in our demanding effort to challenge the ultimate definition of the vocal truth, while we have to learn how to discover our own vocal way with courage and confidence.

What is the relationship between "doing our job" and dealing with negative emotions that tends to confuse the vocal learning behavior?

 We learn from our own mistakes. We have to learn how to relate one thing from the other when we confront the process of acknowledging the big confusing differences during the vocal training. It's obvious that sometimes while we are studding probably feel we are doing our job right; also usually thinking we are in the right track for progress, but without otherwise knowing if it is right, it really doesn't mean we might be doing it right after all. Lack of mental direction is part of the problem. We don't have all the right tools working together, especially mind, voice and desire. We have to find new ways to blend them properly. Lack of confidence would not be helpful and it would be gracious if we can deal wisely and positively with our own learning behavior.

Our confusions are part of the emotional process we have to confront. We have to deal with them masterfully. When we find the best teacher with the best method, the negative emotions will be left apart. We will be mentally stronger. The best method to follow up during those stressful moments is the Italian Bel-Canto School. It applies with the natural way we talk. The only difference is how to breathe. Learning to use the breath correctly is the answer to all the problems. It has been shown through the years that Italians are very good singers. They sing on top of the breath. There are many records and compact disks that can be helpful to find out about the Italian voice technique. I can recommend the old His Master Voice records of my teacher Baritone Apollo Granforte, Tenor Aureliano Pertile, Mezzosoprano Ebbe Stignani, Sopranos Gina Cigna and Carmen Melis and of course the Tebaldi and Freni era; also the incredible beauty and vocal line of Pavarotti and Domingo.

Can or should we really change how we feel about ourselves to make easier the learning process?

It all depends of the years we have been dealing with our vocal studies. If we have had a very bad experience in the past the best thing to do is start once all over again, with a new intelligent approach, but it will not be as easy, as we might think, in getting along with the usual transitions we have to go through. It means that to be able to find the way for progress, we have to consider the differences and answers between what we have done, right or wrong, and what we are finally doing to find the vocal truth we are searching. This will make us feel more comfortable with ourselves in pursuing the final goal. Trying to evade the past, which will always be there, it's not going to change anything at all.

Eventually we have to confront the present. We must certainly use the past experiences to help us discover the right things to do, and finally will lead us toward a career. It's good to know we have to do our effort, putting our mind and soul together, blending all the tools to make it work properly. Getting the best from our voice depends mostly on our mental intensity but constantly controlling our emotions with wisdom and determination.

© Copyright 2001 Jesús Quiñones Ledesma