Re-Imagining Vocal Imagery… For Better Vocal Learning

by | Jan 24, 2022 | Pedagogy

The Old Way: Metaphorical Vocal Imagery

I see it a lot on online voice teacher forums… “I use imagery in my teaching,” “I don’t. It’s not scientific.” That kind of thing. And, I see both sides. The old way of using imagery in the voice studio is more artsy, creative and metaphorical. Something like, “Sing like you’re a ball floating on the ocean.” You’re not a ball, there is no ocean, but it is pointing to some kind of quality or feeling the one could find in one’s singing – but, I’m not sure that image is going to necessarily get one there.

The Other Approach: Reality-based Vocal Imagery

The other approach is more about cold, hard physical fact. More this, relax this, activate x, y or z muscle, etc. And while this seems more “scientific” (aka based in reality), I don’t think that cuts it either. This approach encourages mechanical thinking and ultimately chops up the self into bits and pieces that don’t necessarily ever come back together again.

So, what can one do?

How could we re-imagine vocal imagery for better vocal learning?

Well, I have a wonderful solution… It’s what I call a “physical image.”

Here are a few examples:

  1. Remember that ball floating on the ocean image… Well, what if we take the idea in a different direction? Imagine that your entire torso – everything that isn’t your head, arms and legs – IS a beach ball. Imagine it in 3D and imagine that as you breathe in the beach ball inflates, expanding in all directions and when you exhale it deflates, slowly moving inward from all directions, evenly and proportionally. Now you have a physical image!
  2. Imagine a rubber band connecting your chin to your nose and some others connecting your chin to your hyoid bone (google it, if you don’t know what/where it is), and two more connecting your chin to your ear holes. Now open and close your mouth imagining the rubber bands and how they move…

See… Images can be blended with physical reality to give us a better sense of ourselves (aka improve awareness) while also helping us integrate and connect our parts and pieces in creative, functional and dynamic ways!

I’ve come up with MANY of these vocal images and I sprinkle them throughout my classes and lessons when needed. In THE SINGING SELF PROGRAM, they’re all over. And if you are a voice teacher, in my TEACHER TRACK, I show you how to create your own vocal imagery and how to use them most effectively in your own lessons!


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