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Vocal Arts Workbook and DVD
David Carey and Rebecca Clark Carey
Published by: Methuen Drama
Review by: Joanne Zorian-Lynn, July 2008
This book is really good. As a performer, presentation and voice coach I will certainly use the advice and practical exercises that this book contains. With forwards by Cicely Berry and actress Fiona Shaw, and references to esteemed vocal coaches Kirstin Linklater, Barbara Houseman, Michael McCallion and many more, you know you are going to be in good hands. The authors, established and renowned voice tutors themselves, do not disappoint.
The introduction is an essential read as it sets out the heart of the book's intention and guided development. The care and consideration for the tutor and student is remarkable as it carefully takes on board physical limitations and social appropriateness. The tutor is given teaching tips throughout and approximate exercise timings. It even offers an excellent sample vocal work out and sample curricula.
We are invited to explore our physicality in making sound, examine how tension can impede free breath to voice connection and with a wide selection of exercises we are given the opportunity to release our vocal potential. Emphasis is laid on the connection between thought, emotion, breath and delivery. It is in this way that the actor, presenter and communicator can access vocal choices to best express the emotion and character within the play or presentation message.
Packed with exercises both for individual and group work, each chapter - Relaxation, Release and Alignment; Breath and Voice – Connect, Supply and Support; Resonance and Range; Articulation and Muscularity; journeys through four stages - contextual phonology, exploration and awareness, detailed exercises and follow up work with suggested texts and further reading.
I particularly liked the use of visualisations to engage mind and body in the vocal process. The authors work predominately with actors and so their references are, in the main, theatrical. Nevertheless, an imaginative presenter or voice explorer can navigate through the given images and translate them into ones of their own.
The DVD, as Rebecca Clark Carey tells us, "is a supplement to the workbook and not to provide instruction independent of it".
It's user friendly, classy and presented with clarity. The exercises are easy to follow and beautifully paced. However, the viewer should not be intimidated by the lithe demonstrators or immediately try to emulate their suppleness. A reminder to only go as far as one is comfortable is given in the book but alas not on the DVD. Given the level of care and exemplary attention to safety I was also surprised that some simple yoga exercises, e.g the Plough, miss out fundamental breathing directions.
I feel that this workbook is great for professional voice coaches and for performers and presenters with basic vocal training but that the novice should work alongside a tutor. There is an excellent suggestion to keep a journal to monitor progress or raise questions with your vocal coach.
With their wealth of experience the authors have provided us all with a stimulating, imaginative and practical workbook.
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