Breathing Freely is Key to Your Voice and Health
I teach Jessica Wolf's "Art of Breathing"
San Rafael, CA 94901
I hope my community is having a fantastic summer. I am a therapeutic voice and Alexander Technique teacher who works with public speakers and singers of all ages. I have just returned from my travels to Norman, Oklahoma, where I trained in Jessica Wolf’s “Art of Breathing” at the University of Oklahoma. For those of you who are not familiar with her, Jessica is an Alexander Technique teacher that teaches AT, voice and drama at Yale University in New Haven. I am now one of only two "Art of Breathing" teachers in Northern California.
Jessica is one of the few people who trained with and carried on the work of Carl Stough, a pioneer in breath coordination. Stough’s story is an interesting one. Simply put, he worked with many people who either had troubled breathing – emphysema patients at West Haven Hospital – to “well” folk like the athletes of the 1968 Olympic team who had to compete in Mexico City’s high altitude. He had tremendous success with these populations, especially helping emphysema patients whose diaphragms were woefully weak. He also worked with opera singers, actors and many people who used their voices as a tool of their trade.
The Oklahoma workshop was incredibly inspiring (no pun intended!). I now have many more tools to help you learn about breathing coordination, how to strengthen the diaphragm and the voice. My own struggles with the breath (probably since my teens) have been a prime motivator in my wanting to learn the Alexander work (and many other modalities). Putting the Alexander work together with Stough’s principles and methods has opened up a whole new world of physical freedom for me. I now am making the breath work part of my daily non-singing practice.
I am offering individual lessons in breathing coordination based on this new knowledge. The hour lesson will look at your patterns and habits that may or may not be interfering with healthy coordination. We will also discuss the anatomy of the respiratory system, the importance of the exhale, how the lungs and diaphragm work, the importance of the back (where 70 percent of the lungs dwell) and some of the problems that lead to uncoordinated breathing and possibly other health issues. Much of the work is done lying down on the massage table with gentle hands-on. We will be making sound but not necessarily singing. I also will be helping students create their own practice so that they can do this breath work at home.
If you are interested and are willing to commit to this intensive work, please get in touch and we can talk about your needs. And, I hope you will forward this information to people you know who perhaps struggle with their singing or speech or have respiratory issues. I believe I can help.
We often don't think about our voices. They are "just there" - or perhaps not if we catch a cold or get laringitis. But for people who rely on their voices to make a living, for instance trial lawyers or teachers, it can be very stressful to suddenly experience vocal problems. It can interfere with one's livelihood and efficacy.
The truth is that we can't disconnect the voice from our psyche or how we respond to the world around us. It is an organic part of ourselves. From an Alexander Technique perspective, how we present ourselves in the world, how we "read" to others, is directly linked to how we are reacting to that world. If we are stressed out, that is going to affect the way we walk around in our bodies, "hold ourselves," breathe and speak or sing. Luckily we have lots of tools to reclaim our balance, undo inefficient breathing and vocal habits and help the voice return to expressivity and power.
I combine deep knowledge of vocal technique, breathing and relaxation with the principles of the Alexander Technique to help public speakers or performing artists understand what this thing called "the voice" is all about. Our lessons together are also an invitation to becoming more conscious in everyday life, especially when facing the obstacles of a world that can easily throw us off balance.
I also have recently worked on vocal protocols for courses through the Poise Project, which brings the Alexander Technique to the Parkinson's Disease community. If you or someone you love is having vocal difficulties because of PD, I can help.
I have been teaching voice in San Rafael since 2000. After a 3-year training, I was certified in 2002 by the Alexander Technique Institute in San Francisco. I received my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from California State University-Hayward in 1990. Born in Rome, Italy, I come from a family of opera singers and actors. A singing performer, pianist and music director since 1997, I am fluent in Italian and enjoy specializing in the Italian/Neapolitan repertoire. I'm a Level 2 Reiki practitioner, certified in shamanic healing from HCH in Lafayette and am an avid Aikido practitioner and meditator. I teach voice at JB Piano in San Rafael.
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