Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Yoga for Singing: A Developmental Tool for Technique and Performance

Academic journal article Journal of Singing

Yoga for Singing: A Developmental Tool for Technique and Performance

Article excerpt

Judith E. Carman, Yoga for Singing: A Developmental Tool for Technique and Performance. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Paper, xix, 292 pp., $27.95. ISBN 978-0-19-975941-5 www.oup.com

While singers and their teachers have always been aware of the fundamental importance of the body to their art, it has only been in the past several decades that voice pedagogues have begun to incorporate disciplines of body use-such as the Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais Method, Body Mapping, and Pilates-into their teaching. The oldest of these is yoga. Yoga, which has been practiced for centuries, is an experiential tool that addresses physical, mental, and spiritual states. Judith E. Carman, who has taught singing for forty years, and practiced yoga for half of that time, offers both an explanation of the connection between singing and yoga, and a systematic approach to incorporate the two.

Carman begins with an overview of the elements of yoga and correlates it to the elements of singing. For readers unfamiliar with the discipline, the author includes an overview of the history and styles of yoga. Carman bases her teaching upon that of Raja yoga, which is the practice as codified by Patañjali (who lived between 200 B.C.E. and 200 C.E.) in the classic text Yoga Sutras. Yoga for Singing follows the order in which classical Raja yoga is taught: posture, breath, and then phonation. This is also the usual order that occurs in voice lessons. Subsequent sequences are useful for honing mental focus, fostering expressivity, and dealing with the performance experience. The sequences are fully explained, as well as illustrated with black and white photographs. Icons indicate the level of difficulty of each posture. In addition, a corresponding website offers video clips of all of the postures and practices.

The second part of the volume consists of practices useful to singers, such as sequences that focus on stretching and/or strengthening specific parts of the body, or that improve balance. …

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