Amy Bolton, Fitzmaurice Voicework practitioner and instructor, lay on her back and folded her body in half, stretching her legs beyond her head – her demonstration of the plow position.
Bolton gave a Fitzmaurice Voicework master class Feb. 17 in Morgan Auditorium as part of the Fridays at Noon series.
Fitzmaurice Voicework is a holistic approach to voice training created by voice teacher Catherine Fitzmaurice.
Although the practice was originally developed for actors, it is also used to help vocalists with general breath capacity and control.
The practice integrates vocal exercises with movement, focusing on awareness of body presence.
Participants were encouraged to bring yoga mats and pillows to the workshop in preparation to play, pose and let loose.
During the condensed session, Bolton took students through yoga poses and vocal exercises that increase awareness of the mind and body as related to breathing.
“Expert? I’m not sure. Enthusiast? Absolutely,” Bolton said after barbershop director Carol Stephenson introduced her.
Stephenson participated in the workshop along with many of the students from the ULV Chorale and Barbershop ensembles.
Bolton practices the techniques often enough to have mastered them, but says she’s always exploring and learning new things about Fitzmaurice voice work.
The instructor invited everyone on stage to sit in a campfire-style circle.
The group went around introducing themselves and sharing what they already knew about voicework techniques.
“As singers, we’re hyper-focused on the labor of breathing,” Stephenson said.
“De-structuring and restructuring our voices will be helpful.”
Bolton instructed everyone to lie on their back and make a ‘fluffy sound,’ or release a small breath with vocal cord vibrations.
While in this position, the students were told to scrunch, stretch and shake their bodies. This allowed them to compare the difficulty of breathing and speaking.
As the session continued, everyone partnered up and took turns manipulating each other’s limbs.
The passive vibrations showed the vocalists how tension goes unnoticed and how much we subconsciously try to take control.
“My favorite part was actually getting comfortable with someone else doing things to me and not worrying myself,” Zoe Meshenberg, sophomore speech communications major said.
The activity increasingly yielded more giggles as the group played hug tag.
To keep from being ‘it,’ the person about to be tagged must be hugged by someone else.
After the voice work and hug tag, the group circled up again to reflect on the experience.
They collectively found that it is important to know how to work with voice because the practice shows one’s limitations and how much the mind controls the body.
Some said they felt looser and less in their heads, rather more focused on their bodies and were able to support their voices more.
Tyler Evains can be reached at email@example.com.