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Vocal Labour

Vocal Labour - Vocal Delivery

Written by Diana Yampolsky

vocal cartoon - labourOne evening I was unwinding from a long day of intense vocal coaching sessions and flicked through the channels on my T.V. until I got to the Learning Channel. This particular show was about the delivery of babies and was set in a maternity ward. It was about how some births are relatively simple while others are very hard and full of complications. As I watched the video footage of the doctor and his patient I immediately felt some kinship with the doctor. Coincidentally, earlier that day I had had a session with a student who had literally made me feel like an obstetrician because I really had to work hard to help him deliver his "baby"!

After this session I was exhausted and covered with sweat. When I teach I engage myself completely with my students - mind, heart and, to some extent, body. I use my arms to position their body and use my own body to demonstrate positioning and technique to them. This had definitely been a delivery with complications. I could not fault how much he was trying. His neck was almost purple, his face dark red, his eyes were almost teary. He was pushing hard but the sound he wanted would not come out. (I think I actually laboured less when I delivered my daughter in eight hours!)

We worked hard on his breathing, body positioning and all of the technical aspects of singing. After an hour we could actually see the "head" of his performance coming out and this only motivated us to work to reach the aimed conclusion. Eventually we conquered all of our obstacles and the delivery was complete. We were both exhausted but felt released and happy as well. And our "baby" seemed to be healthy and doing well. A somewhat healthy sound resembling singing was now coming from his mouth.

He sincerely thanked me and we hugged. We had shared a truly fulfilling experience and I know it is one that my "patient" will never forget. I was completely spent but at that point I realized how much I truly loved my job and felt similar to a doctor who brings new lives into the world every day.

Delivering a vocal performance is very much like delivering a baby. Sometimes it is painless and requires little more than nominal support from a vocal coach. Other times it is a lot of hard work for both the student and the coach. In both cases, something special is created and the world is a more beautiful place because of it.