April 2018 MTNA e-Journal

The “Standard” Cello Hold: A Valid Choice Of Posture For The Young Cellist
By Jeffrey Schoyen

When discussing the topic of posture, any instrumental teacher is confronted with how to “set up” a beginner on their specific instrument. There is a fascinating variety of possibilities that may include standing or sitting, contacting the instrument, holding the instrument or striking the instrument. How the body is situated in relation to the instrument becomes very important. With the beginning cellist sitting is a given, along with contacting the instrument with the torso, legs and hands. Within these parameters there is still a wide range of options related to elements such as chair height, body type, cello size, and endpin length. This article will focus on a sound departure point, that of the “standard” hold, one used by 20th-century players such as Janos Starker, Gregor Piatigorsky, Emmanuel Feurmann, Jacqueline du Pre, Pierre Fournier, Leonard Rose, Zara Nelsova, William Pleeth and Pablo Casals. [Read More]


Free To Sing: Encouraging Postural Release For Vocal Efficiency
By Rachael Gates

So often student singers will sing as though they are just busts and some—just heads—with little to no accurate sense of their instrument extending down through the thorax, abdomen and pelvis, and without any connection to their knees or the floor. These singers tend to deliver inconsistent performances that rely on effortful singing and leave their empathetic voice teachers tight and tired. Effortful singing requires more pressure or compression of the vocal folds than what is necessary, which in turn limits smooth register transitions, causes the pitch to go flat or sharp, and/or prevents the singer from accessing her full range, timbre and use of dynamics. The effortful singer feels sensations in the neck while she sings, fatigues with voice use and is susceptible to vocal fold erythema (redness), vocal fold edema (swelling) and Muscle Tension Dysphonia. Singers are already at a disadvantage, because they cannot readily access a magnified and well-lit view of their vocal folds without investing in thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment. So they strive, with variable success, to develop a keen kinesthetic awareness. How can the voice teacher help expedite the student’s discovery of efficient singing? This article discusses the benefits of Alexander Technique for the singer and walks through basic mapping tutorials and images of the skeleton and the vocal instrument that you, as a teacher, can do along with your students. Exercises at the end are included for further exploration. [Read more]