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Using images during your vocal studies

JosephJoseph Pro Posts: 260
edited January 2014 in Psychology of Singing
I found this article below very interesting, and thought it might help some of you. It talks about the importance of creating your own catalogue of images that work for you. Regards Joseph Images are especially useful to voice teachers and singers because most of what a singer does is invisible to the naked eye. There may be subtle indications of the singing process given by the face and body or by the sound, but for all practical purposes, images usually make learning vocal technical skills easier and faster than scientific explanations. For this reason, almost all voice teachers use them. But first of all we must face the fact that any of the images proposed by voice teachers do not take on special meaning until the singer has experienced more than once the sensation described by the imagery. That is, you cannot imitate an image until you have have personal knowledge of it. Any psychologist will tell you that the time for settling on an image is after you have managed to execute the skill you are trying to achieve. The teacher, by whatever means necessary, gets the singer to execute the skill correctly. Right then and there the singer settles on a three-part image for what he/she just did. It will combine three images: (1) the feed-back muscular sensations from the larynx, pharynx, or mouth, also from ribs, back, abdomen, etc., (2) a visual image of what is actually taking place, (3) an auditory image of the sound produced by that procedure. The singer must use words of his own that describe the way the skill feels, sounds, and looks. It need not be anatomically accurate to be effective. One of the flaws in the ordinary use of imagery in the vocal studio is that the teacher will insist on using his/her words (which resonate to the teacher personally but perhaps not to the student) to describe the technical experience. Hence the possibility of misunderstandings and lack of progress.


  • MattMatt Pro Posts: 197
    Very interesting article, Joseph - thanks for sharing.

    I imagine that this could assist with muscle memory, as you would have a conscious thought of the correct technique, making it easier to be consistent.
  • JosephJoseph Pro Posts: 260
    Yes, it also explains when newcomers say things like "I don't understand the concept of having a feeling like a ball in the back of the throat", and other similar concepts. They will understand it once they really feel it.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,871

    This is good imagery when we are doing the right thing.

    Unfortunately, we can also associate incorrect techniques with imagery, and think we are "getting it" when we are actually getting something else.

    Nothing beats a correct technique with vivid imagery.  Some instructors provide us with inaccurate or misleading imagery that actually impedes our progress.  The key to the article is repetition of a correct technique and associating a feeling or image with that correctly repeated proper technique.


  • JosephJoseph Pro Posts: 260
  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278
    I prefer to use concrete technique but have used imagery to help someone understand what they should be feeling. To me the singing process should be literal hands on logical experience, much like playing guitar or any other instrument. I don't tell someone how to feel a G chord I show them. Learning is different for each individual some are very abstract based and some very logical. I fall somewhere in between. It is true that we can't see our voice but we can manipulate the muscles to do what we want them to do.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,871

    There are so many ways that different people are receptive (or unreceptive) to learning.

    I have studied some of these ways and I know that I am in many ways learning-challenged.  That's one of the reasons I drive Ken crazy sometimes.

    I do sympathize with those here who go nuts trying to break everything down in order to understand it.  We'll smash a watch in order to figure out how it tells time... and end up with a pile of gears and springs in the process!!!

    I also know that sometimes you just have to accept things and move on without having a "full" understanding.  You just have to say "OK", and accept something and wait until later, when the meaning "soaks in" or you have a later realization that makes a certain concept clear to you.  If we are a slow learner, then sometimes we just have to say "OK, I'm a slow learner" and be good with that.  All things will come to you if you remain steadfast and continue to remain open to the answers and abilities in their own timing, while doing your part to keep pressing onwards.

    That's just part of the different ways different people have to deal with learning a great deal of information.  There is so much to learn from Ken's method, and we're all so different in our approaches to climbing this mountain.  Fortunately, we have a proven path to follow, and there are a number of guides here, helping one another along the way when we get a little lost.


  • MattMatt Pro Posts: 197
    "There is a lot to learn - it’s almost too much to learn almost at once, but each piece depends on all the others. Therefore, you must be patient with yourself and the computer your voice while learning to program sing. If you don’t understand something the first time, reread it. If you still don’t understand it, it is sometimes best to take it by faith and come back to it later. Often after more exposure to programming singing the ideas will make more sense. Don’t get discouraged. It’s a long climb, but very worthwhile." - Jonathan Bartlet

    References to computers and programming obviously changed by myself to relate to singing - but I thought it was relevant!
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,871

    Just be careful with that "delete" key!


  • MattMatt Pro Posts: 197
    Also worth noting that if you mess anything up and it stops working, hitting restart and waiting a while (sometimes overnight) can sometimes fix it!
  • bluesbirdbluesbird Pro Posts: 59
    @highmtn It could be worse...I once took lessons with a renowned vocal coach in Greece, who also taught in a TV reality show about singing, who insisted on my smelling and seeing 16 blood red roses each time I was doing my diaphragmatic breathing exersices!!! She charged a load of money and I spent the first 3 lessons sniffing the air for 16 blood red roses...!! There wasn't a 4th lesson of course...hahaha!!! 
    Though I have to admit...when I'm doing my mods, I try to imagine the soft pallet moving upwards, don't know if this is actually making it move, but I do it all the same!!
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,871
    edited July 2013
    Did you have to pay for the roses, too?
  • laurynkarungi96laurynkarungi96 Member Posts: 28
    Woooow!!this is my greatest topic of concern!!I have been taught how to use my diaghpram!and breathe from the stomach and all of that!!they say don't raise ur chest!!but my chest just keeps on raising!they said don't breathe in through ur nose!!and okay I breathe through the mouth but my chest still raises...whyy?and then they als say push the stomach out and in!!well I'm a girl and we girls like to tuck in our tummys so they can look flatter so when someone tells me to push my stomach out!all I do I push it back to the normal size and honestly there is no air whatsoever in there!I was hoping ktva would help me!!but with what I have red I am looking forward to mor imagery and more push this out and feel this yet I'm actually not feeling it!!
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro Posts: 14,871

    We will go over this in detail once you have access to all of the materials and videos that explain this in great detail.

    It WILL make sense, and it WILL work for you.  There's just no sense in trying to type out all of the information that is already available once you can access it. There are pages and pages of information on this in entire categories on the forums that are only available to enrolled students. 

    You WILL get it.

    It works.



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