Subtitles of the movie "Stimme in Bewegung" from Annikki Scheu/ Maria Rank
Working with the voice is, first and foremost, something very personal. Everything a person has experienced in their life resonates through their voice.
If a person opens themselves to exploring their voice on a deeper level, they can uncover new and surprising horizons within it. If you are open to the journey, the voice will reveal itself quite organically and guide you along this path of discovery.
Music has always been in my life, and I was immersed it in from a very young age. In my youth, I studied piano, sang with the "Hamburger Alsterspatzen Children’s Choir," sang in concerts and vocal competitions, and performed on stage. Then, when I was 19,
I wanted to go to a music conservatory to study singing. It seemed I did not fit into the very constrained conservatory structure.
My voice teacher told me stand straight and not to move while I was singing. This felt so bad to me! My whole body wanted to move in response to the music, and I realized that this was one of the things I liked most about singing. My approach to singing didn’t have any place within the system at the conservatory. In the end, it wasn’t a good fit for me there and I decided to leave. After this, I worked on different projects with the Hamburg Staatsoper for about 12 years. But, eventually, I realized that I had lost my desire and will to do this kind of singing and work. So I left the world of classical music and for many years did not sing at all.
Then I met Jonathan Hart Makwaia. Working with him, I started to really get in touch and free my voice, to see what was there without the imposition of classical aesthetic norms. There was no longer a wrong or right way to sing, no judgmental. Suddenly I thought to myself, “Of course you have a beautiful voice, of course your voice has a range and facility!” I realized I was really only rediscovering the voice that had always been there, and I had the feeling that there were many facets within it that I was just uncovering. So, playfully, I found myself reconnecting with the joy of music and singing that I had last felt in my youth. This wonderful new approach gave me the sensation that music had returned to me and I realized that music was back in my body. Now I experience the voice in a completely new way. My work with Roy Hart greatly enriched my ability to help others experience their voice more deeply.
I give private voice lessons to professional and amateur singers, choral singers, actors, and musicians. I have given voice seminars to student teachers and have worked with teachers who have vocal problems. I also provide vocal training to public speakers and give theme-based workshops. Ultimately, I can help anyone who wants to discover and unwrap their voice.
When I teach, I begin by looking at the person to see what they need, what they bring with them, and the authenticity that each has within them. The starting point of the work is exactly where the individual is when they walk in the door— beginning from this point is extremely interesting for me.
I go on a journey with each student. It is a really intuitive, organic way of working that takes shape differently for each individual.
A person’s voice says a lot about them… where I come from, what is my story, and how does this story impact my voice?
Working with a classical singer
"The tones were lighter and freer, but also had a strength within them. This is the exciting combination. That’s true, the high notes were easier. You opened up a lot easier on top. The sound wasn't packed from above and sent downward. There was an understanding of the base, with the feet, remaining anchored in the pelvis, that you didn’t lose. Yes, it went well. Many things that were uncomfortable for me fell by the wayside. Lots of things that normally stress me out were completely gone."
I try to find out what helps a client relax so they can get rid of muscle tension and free the voice. This works together with technique. A person can learn to get in touch with their body…to feel the interplay of the pelvis working together anchor the body. All of this body work comes together in a way that allows a person to discover the essence of their voice. This is very interesting.
I see a lot in a person’s posture. I can see where they are holding and where they are flexible. I play with this, without pressure, so that a person can learn to recognize it in themselves.
Working with a spokeswoman
"Now it’s much more connected. The tone and text went hand in hand because of the relaxation and openness. And I realize that I can trust myself. Usually I’m worried about putting pressure on my voice and I pull back from it. But if I keep the connection to the center, it's better. And I realize there is a strength there that doesn’t require strain on my part, which is very nice."
Working with a musician
How does a musician connect with his musical instrument and his voice at the same time so that both blend together/melt into one and other? This is an interesting question that I have explored often in my work with musicians. I enjoy this type of work very much.
I once had a client who came to me and said that he would go into work meetings and speak, but no one in the meeting heard or saw him- that he received no recognition. We worked together for a year on strengthening his presence and center /axis/core. He learned to enter a room leading with his sternum without feeling uncomfortable. All of these things helped him to experience what it was to exist in a space. This was a very special experience for me.
Working with a group
I really love to work with groups. It's always an interesting challenge for me to make sure that every participant feels comfortable address their personal questions and gives themselves over to the group experience. It is also important to me that shy people feel relaxed and open, because then we can start to get in process to discover the voice.
In my workshops, I like to use revitalizing exercises that awaken the spirit. These include breathing, vocal, and movement exercises that stimulate and sharpen one’s body perception. Another important aspect of my work is “Atem Tonus Ton,” which is a body-centered vocal pedagogy in which one’s personal life, perception, movement in space, and voice are brought into focus.
In partner work and group work, the participants get to know each other and listen to one and other, engaging with and supporting each other. If all this is accomplished, then we can achieve a lot in our vocal work.
"I felt a very warm sensation in my back through which the sound could move forward all the way to my chest . I thought that it was absolutely wonderful."
"I actually was smiling the whole time. It immediately got rid of the tension I had. I felt like my back was supported."
"The sound was clear and had more substance."
"I felt insecure at the beginning because I couldn’t sing clearly. But after she sang into my back, my voice came much more clearly/easily and my performance improved. That was very, very beautiful and enjoyable."