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Voice and Self - A Handbook of Personal Voice Development Therapy
Ingeburg Stengel & Theo Strauch (Translated from the German edition of 1996)
Free Association Books, London, 2000, ISBN 1 85343 500 7
Review by Meribeth G Dayme, PhD
Voice and Self was written for speech therapists and other professions concerned with the voice and interested in the personal aspect of the voice. The concepts in it were derived from 'Person-Oriented Voice Development' and taught by Ingeburg Stengel. It was her goal to look at the person as a whole rather than narrowly concentrating on the vocal function.
There are four sections. The first is a discussion of the concept, the second an anatomical explanation of voice production, the third devoted to exercises relating to awareness and sound the short fourth part addressed to speech and voice therapists.The statement: 'Voice therapy is an independent field between functional training and psychotherapy' summarises focus of the book. In the authors' words: 'Person-Oriented Voice Therapy attempts to define the area between functional training and psychotherapy and to make the unity of voice and self the basis of practical work.'
The authors state that work on the voice whether conscious or subconscious, is always also work on the self and that the person concerned must instigate all work on the voice. Through exercises relating to proprioception, movement and imagination the authors work with their clients to achieve a centred and balanced voice and state of being.
The anatomical section is simply stated. It is related to the concepts developed in Section 1 with emphasis on breathing, body tonus and posture. The influence of Alexander Technique and Feldenkrais are apparent in the discussion.
Most of the book is devoted to exercises in awareness and sound. It is here that I found the most value. For speech therapists who are looking for more useful ways of relieving stress and finding new ways to approach their patients, there are pages of approaches and exercises. Again, these exercises draw heavily on the ideas of Eutonie, Feldenkrais method, Alexander technique, breathing work, therapy and meditation and voice therapy.
This is a short book that is relatively easy to read and understand. It has been translated from German and can sometimes belabour the point or have awkward syntax for the English reader. However, for therapists, voice and singing teachers looking for additional ideas and exercises, I would recommend they take a look at Voice and Self. There are some valuable concepts and practical tools for working with the whole person.
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