Estill to the Rescue!
By Alizia Romero
When someone starts a professional career as a singer, there are may be things they are not able to achieve vocally. There could be weaknesses in certain areas of the range, or problems reaching high and low pitches. You may also struggle with resistance, learning how to sing and dance at the same time, or how to sing different music styles.
My case was exactly like this for years. I could sing beautifully but I had several technique problems to solve. I started to sing when I was six years old. I jumped from the couch to sing and dance along to music on the TV. I began music studies at the conservatory, performing in concerts with the children’s choirs. In choir, I would sing with a “strange voice”, especially for high notes. As I grew up, I became interested in singing contemporary commercial music (CCM), particularly soul and gospel music. Singing soul music, I used another voice that was completely different from my choir voice. At thirteen years old, I began working as a professional singer. I started to sing in cover bands, with these two different voices that were like two different people with two very different personalities. I didn’t know how to reconcile them, or how to fill the “vocal holes” in my registers.
Estill Voice Training helped me address these technique problems. A.E. (after Estill), I still had my attractor states and gifts for my favorite styles of music, but I developed the capacity to sing comfortably in many other singing styles.
Emergency Cover Gigs
One advantage about the region where I live is that everybody knows everybody in the music community. Once you know the right people, you can find more gigs easily without much competition. The disadvantage? To keep working, you have to say yes to a lot of different roles and singing jobs that may be outside of your comfort zone.
The gigs I love (and hate) the most are when somebody is ill and you have to cover for them. Sometime I’ve had three days to get ready…other times, only two and half hours! Luckily, my experience studying music, harmony, and repertoire has helped me to rise up and meet the artistic challenges of these cover gigs: learning the songs, lyrics, characters, style shifts, etc.
But how can you tackle the technical voice challenges? How can you sing songs that are completely out of your normal range? How can you adjust to singing soft styles when you are used to belting, or how can a crier approach belting? The answer is clear: Estill!
Analyzing Languages with Estill
I’ve noticed many differences in my attractor states between the four languages I speak. Have you tried to “Estillyze” the way you speak in different languages? My speaking voice in Spanish is thick folds, very narrow AES, vertical thyroid, strong tilted cricoid. But when I speak English, I noticed my larynx is lower and my onsets are gentler. In Italian, my thyroid tilts more often, and it’s easier for me to find mid false vocal folds. French is like magic for me; suddenly my vocal folds are thinner, my false vocal folds are retracted, and my overall volume is softer than my habits in Spanish.
I love to play with languages and accents with all my students. You may find that your Estill voice recipes for different languages are completely different! But you don’t need to know a bunch of different languages or accents to explore this. Start by listening carefully to recordings or native speakers, then make your best impressions. It will help you find new ways to separate yourself from your attractor states, and discover new sounds in your voice.
When the rest of the world listens to you sing, it sounds like magic. Only the singers truly know how much work it takes – how many hours we spend practicing our Figures, learning how to make the magic happen. And we know it works – so please, keep practicing!