Singing: The Mechanism and the Technic was written by the late William Vennard. Every serious student of voice should own this volume.
The book is out of print, but you find it on Amazon here. It’s worth every penny!
Mr. Vennard was my first voice teacher at the University of Southern California. I was 17 years old when I first discovered his wonderful teaching style. It kept my voice healthy and supple through that very important transition to adulthood. After I had matured a bit, he took me further into the mysteries of the vocal art. He was both a gifted musician/performer and a genuine scientist of the highest order. He removed much of the “magic” aspects of vocal teaching with quality scientific study using various tools to confirm his work.
Here is a brief excerpt by David L. Jones in which he describes some of the learning that evolved from Vennard’s methods.
There is an account of Marilyn Horne in her earlier autobiography referring to her study with William Vennard, a student of Alan Lindquest right before 1955 and throughout that year. At one point, Ms. Horne wanted to sing larger more dramatic repertoire. William Vennard refused to teach her this heavier repertoire, so she went to another teacher who allowed her to sing anything she wanted. In her own account in her book she says that she came “crawling back to Bill Vennard’s door after six weeks with no high notes left”. At least Ms. Horne felt the early warning signs of singing too heavily with a lyric instrument. The healthy instinct to come back to William Vennard was an important one indeed. This decision brought her voice back to a place that prepared her for her long career.
Most singers want to have a large sound; however, no one need sacrifice their instrument for it. Our voices can carry in any hall if the sound it produced on the ring or the Flagstad ng. I found this to be proven true when I once performed a master class at Merkin Concert Hall in New York. (See article: Vocal Acoustics in the Theater.) If the ng were present in the sound and the singer did not spread the mouth position, then the sound carried beautifully no matter how large or small the mass of voice. I produced a concert at Philharmonie Hall in Berlin in 1989. A conductor from the Hanover Opera came to speak to me after the concert. He knew that the singers were trained with the same technical background. His question to me was, “Who were the large-voiced singers and who were the smaller-voiced singers? I know they all come from the same training, but I cannot tell.” The absolute truth is that pushing the voice to make it larger NEVER works. The result is only throaty singing and a nervous audience.
(c) David L. Jones/2003
(Mr. Jones is a prominent voice teacher in New York City. His writings on voice, coupled with his wonderful master classes has secured his place as one of America’s top voice teachers.)
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