The Flute

Pablo Picasso, 1959

Pablo Picasso, 1959

This is how the Lamperti School thought of the larynx and the pharynx surrounding it.

One learned to breathe and play at the top of the pharynx, thereby creating a column of breath in the body (see my previous post).

It’s a simple idea really, from a time when voice teachers had only a rudimentary understanding of vocal physiology. I mention the flute to students, especially those who know something of physiology, if only because I haven’t had one who was aware that they could feel the space above the soft palate. To do so, one only has to shut the mouth and inhale quietly, slowly, and completely, which is how Lamperti and García School students were taught to breathe.

Stuff happens in the body—globally-speaking—when we breathe at the top of the pharynx. The smart singer makes note of this stuff, creates a mind map—which amounts to paying attention to sensation and direction of movement—and then manages the map with skill and awareness.

Knowing the names of the muscles doesn’t help. Only feeling suffices, which is tantamount to listening, proprioception of the body being a matter of the vestibular system within the ear.

The really curious thing is that—essentially—the voice is the only instrument that must be created via listening/feeling before being played.