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“Vocal Advantage: Favorite Mantra” by Dina Else

I have a few things I say on a very regular basis every day, in almost every lesson that I teach.  One of them is “Singing is Sensation!” 
James McKinney has taught us that, “only a patient can describe their sensations.”  It’s not a stretch to say that only a singer can describe their sensations and ‘singing IS sensation’.  Sensations are the one constant that you can rely on no matter the acoustics of the space you’re singing in or the situation singers finds themselves in. 
As my singers make improvements and begin to figure things out, I’m a huge fan of asking “what did that feel like?”  If a student can pinpoint the sensations, they are more likely to replicate the experience correctly away from the studio. 
I’m also a big fan of ‘do it the old way, do it the new way’.  What did the ‘old’ way feel like, what does the new way feel like?  Describe the differences in physical sensations. 
One of the fantastic side benefits of this teaching habit would be the phrases I have learned and the metaphors I have at my fingertips thanks to the creative and very articulate thoughts of a few of my students!  When a student describes a physical sensation in terms that they can relate to, the wise teacher will grab onto those thoughts and repeat them to the next singer.  Case in point, I was at a clinic last week where we were zoning in on the sensations involved in an open throat, space between the back molars tone production.  I gave this directive, “Okay, somebody raise your hand and describe the sensations of the old way and the sensations you’re aware of when that backspace opens up.”  A young lady raised her hand and said, “the old way feels like the hallways at our school during passing period, really congested and closed in.  The new way feels like what the hallway feels like to me, when I get out of class early and I’m the only one in it!”  You can bet that I will be using that metaphor at my next clinic!!