Have you ever wondered how the voice works? Why can we make a variety of sounds, both in singing and in speech? What about people who do cartoon voices? A very curious classical singer, named Jo Estill wondered about this, too. After many years of voice lessons, no one could answer these questions, so she decided to start investigating for herself. She started with an x-ray of her larynx while singing different sound qualities. She discovered that the vocal instrument took on different positions for different qualities of tone. She thought about it and began to wonder if each component of the vocal instrument could be moved in isolation and she set forth to develop an approach to singing based on scientific principles. Thus started a 30+ year quest to discover a way to train the muscles of the larynx and mouth.
The study of Estill Voice Craft begins with learning the anatomy and physiology of the larynx, the mouth, pharynx, head, neck, and torso. As you learn this, you will also explore the variety of positions each area can assume and how it affects the tone. These positions came to be called “Compulsory Figures For Voice Control.” Jo based her concept on how ice skaters and gymnasts must learn certain specific moves which are then grouped to create a routine.

In Level One, you learn to control the structures of the larynx, the vocal tract, and the support structures, one at a time, in order to develop muscle memory and the ability to change postures at will. This is the Craft.

In Level Two, these elements of voice control are pieced together to form 6 different basic voice qualities: Speech/modal, falsetto, sob, nasal and oral twang, opera, and belt. It takes time and lots of practice to become proficient in Estill Voice Craft but once you have it programmed into muscle memory, you have access to many different vocal styles and tone color. Then Artistry can begin and eventually, Performance Magic!!

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