LESSON 2: Freeing the Channel through Releasing Tension
(from Linklater Workday 5 and 6 pg. 129)
Educational Objective: Students will understand how to release tension to improve vocal quality by participating in self-knowledge and group awareness activities.
Materials Needed: Freeing the Natural Voice by Kristin Linklater, soft/ meditative music, open space
Directions: Students must create a human machine by combining their own sound and movement, and one by one, add to the group. As a whole, the machine must speed up as one unit, and then slow down to a stop as one unit.
Transition: Like a machine, our body has its own mechanisms that help us breathe (remember the human breathing machine we created last time?) In fact, having an awareness of our body and breath is foundational to vocal support.
Building from bottom up:
We are building towards the application– our final performance/ project. But in doing so, we are going to go in-depth with vocal principles, techniques, and how those concepts help us build and connect with character.
Question: Where do we hold tension? We don’t store stress just in our mind– it goes into our body too!
Transition: In order to use our voice as the instrument that it is, we need to release tension and free our speaking channel. To do that, we are going to go through some exercises together. First, I want you to respond to a prompt aloud, but to yourself…and as you say it, take note of how you feel and sound as you speak. Here’s the prompt: “Recall a happy memory or favorite day.” I’m going to ask you to respond to the same prompt after we complete this exercise. Now we’ll proceed with me giving your verbal prompts for this activity.
Step 1: (pg. 132)
Practice: Breath and Movement– Have the students stand in a circle. Invite them to stand in a neutral position– feet shoulder-width apart, standing up straight, hands hanging loosely at their sides. Have one student volunteer to give the first “breath and movement” — which needs to be grounded and natural. The student standing next to them in the circle then tries to copy the same breath and movement– not trying to mock or make fun of it in any way. The breath and movement will travel around the circle; see how much it changes (or doesn’t change) as it goes around the circle. Remind the students to stay focused on their breath and grounded in their movement as they participate. After the first breath and movement goes around the circle, ask another student to volunteer sharing a new breath and movement to go around the circle.
Transition: Opening the throat…pg. 182
There is a sharp angle where our throat (which holds the larynx, vocal cords, etc.) turns into our mouth passage. If we have a lazy soft palate and tense tongue, we can jam that channel. We want to open that channel and stimulate spaciousness as we breathe more freely
Discussion: Now, I’m going to have you answer the same prompt as before– “Recall a happy memory or favorite day.” What do you notice now about your voice as compared to before we did this exercise? Do you feel more relaxed, more open and free to breathe? The exercises that we have done the past couple of days have helped us develop a more keen awareness of our voice– how we breathe, how our body functions as we breathe, and how we need to release tension to support proper breath and voice.
Assessment: Write a short response to the prompt: “How has my awareness of my voice and breath changed?”