Brett Johnson
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Technique is the rocking chair that you sit in while you're practicing your craft."

Frank Oz

"People imagine that their bodies are disobedient and unreliable in carrying out their wishes, whereas nothing could be further from the truth."

Walter Carrington

Studying voice invites us to call upon everything we are: our intellect, our physical awareness, our history, our soul. We use all of these parts of ourselves in our quest to gain better command of our instruments, to more directly express our inner impulses through music.

                   "The Voice develops in a hierarchical order:

If a problem in vocal production occurs
in any one of these areas,
it may result from a
difficulty in the previous level of the hierarchy.”

                                                                    J. W. Gregg

As singers, we often jump to the middle of this pyramid, phonation, while our challenges are often caused by how we carry ourselves and how we breathe.

The foundation of beautiful singing begins with aligning our instrument (our body) to its maximum ease and efficiency. As a student of the Alexander Technique for many years, Brett teaches the primary importance of a long, free neck and body.

Jane Randolph, the master teacher whose students include Frederica von Stade, is famously quoted as saying “Technique is everything you have to do to survive after you’ve taken the wrong breath!” To help students learn how to take the "right" breath, Brett teaches from the model of the great 19th-century teacher Giovanni Battista Lamperti. Singing is as simple as “open, drop, lean, flow.” As we mature as skilled technicians, our understanding of this simple process grows and deepens.

Fully opening the throat prior to inhalation requires an understanding and training of the “four positions of the hollow throat.”  These are: the soft palate, the pharyngeal wall, the zygomatic arches, and the jaw/tongue. We train both our understanding and experience of this opening.

Only after this opening can we allow the breath to drop into the body. After this inhalation, we manage the outward flow of air to “support” our phonation, our sound.

It is only after the open and drop that we can really get to the joy of expressing ourselves in sound. This is “technique.”

Next is the art of singing, which is another kind of opening. We train our bodies and our brains to communicate what is most important for our soul to say.

“Vocal music is an attempt to take the whole human being and project it into space.
It is the ultimate gesture of getting out of yourself.
 You take a part of you that is most private, most personal, most inward
and you hurl it out into space - you project it as far as you can.

That gesture of opening this whole region of the body results in an enormous
spiritual release, and it is felt by other people with tremendous impact.”

Peter Sellars