Seducing the System – in a Good Way!

I have a new online student from Belgium. She contacted me after an online taster class, saying her voice felt so good and could I help her get even better. My boyfriend, she wrote, complains my voice sounds screechy and harsh, especially when I’m angry. I hate my voice, and it hurts my throat to speak, even when I’m not angry. Whoever gives me a massage complains my back is a slab of concrete. We connected over that concrete metaphor. Always good to start a lesson with humor. 

As the lesson went on, I coached her through movements into release, leaning forward into gravity, and even more giving over laying on the ground on her back with her head supported. 

I’ve gotten better on zoom, making my voice grow rich with resonance so that even without the touch, fundamental for AT work, the vibration of my voice ripples inside their skin, in the fascia and muscles all the way to the cellular structure fostering deep release. I noticed how she softened as I speak, and how that informed her breath. Through a series of breathing and awareness exercises, I could see through the screen as her ribs and torso moved more. She followed my lead with sounding and humming exercises and the change in her voice was astounding. She was delighted, almost couldn’t believe how free and full her voice felt and sounded. In the next instant, she started sneezing and sneezing…and sneezing.

“What’s going on?” she cried in alarm. “I never sneeze like this!”

“Your voice has changed that much it’s set off alarm bells in the nervous system. That your voice is resonating more and your breath is deeper and fully and your body more relaxed and open can seem like ‘danger’ for the system. This will pass, the nervous system does adjust. I think of it as seducing the system.”

“That’s good,” she laughed, clearly enjoying the play of seduction. “Because I really like how my voice sounds, I can’t believe it.” The sneezing stopped and then she started yawning, a more typical reaction to release. “Look at me! Now I can’t stop yawning. But it feels so good.” 

I took her through another round of various movements and sound shapes, more like singing and she loved it. This happens in lesson, that a person who never thought about singing, who has a held-in strained voice, when coached to be more in the body, especially the back, ends up making an extraordinary amount of sound. 

“You really have a good voice!” I said, and meant it.

“Me? I’m the one every told to shut up, that I sing out of tune.”

“That was a long time ago?”

“Yes,” she said. “And I’ve never dared sing again. But this,” she said, giggling with pleasure, “I don’t know how or what you did, but it feels great. Can we do this again?” 

I too felt happy after the lesson. Not just that this student wanted to continue, but doing all the exercises with her had a huge impact on me. My entire body and soul felt light and expansive, the nagging bits of the day lifted and my own voice sounded better.