Voice and Inhibition


The concept of inhibition is central to the Alexander work. Changing and undoing one’s habitual pattern and response to a thought or action requires that one stops performing the habitual pattern or response so something else can happen. This is the process of inhibition.  

I often say that one has to be “in front” of an action. Thinking and noticing how you respond prior to initiating an action builds the awareness one needs to change the habit. Then one can notice what happens when one first has the thought to do an action. Eventually, one can find ease BEFORE the thought even comes.

You can apply this principle to our voice work with the following process.

One way to work on your voice is to apply Alexander’s idea of inhibition very directly to how you speak or sing.

Step 1: Find your best use in silence, allowing your breath to move in and out without resistance. Let your tongue go much as possible, so the tip of your tongue touches the back of the lower teeth and the back of your tongue is high and wide near the back molars.

Step 2: Begin to say something (start with one word that doesn’t have any particular meaning to you). Go right up to the moment of phonation. And then… 

Step 3: Pause and notice any tension that may have accumulated in any part of your body (especially your head, neck, tongue and jaw).

Step 4: Let the tension go out the top of your head and flow into the space all around you. In other words, release into your directions of lengthening and widening.

Step 5: Repeat this activity letting go earlier and earlier in the process of phonation. As you notice any tension building up, release it into your length and width.

Stay with easy words until you can have the thought to speak and arrive at the moment of phonation without any tension.

Step 6: Then you can start adding words with meaning and content. Go though the same process until you can speak or sing without any excess tension. (Remember letting go does not mean becoming a puddle or collapsing.  You are releasing into your 3-dimensionsal directions.)

Working with this process alone will help you notice what you do when you begin to interact with people in a real conversation or with musical entrances, when you have to come in at a particular moment in the musical score.

More to come…