Your Body, Your Voice
The Key to Natural
Singing and Speaking
By Theodore Dimon.
Atlantic Books, 2011. 184pp, ISBN 978-1-58394-320-5, £16.99.
Judy Vigurs writes:
First published in STATNews, January
The central message of this book is that to understand and
use the voice properly we need to look at it as a function
of the bodyís whole musculoskeletal support system. The
author, Ted Dimon, states that this holistic approach to
vocal use and training has been neglected up to now, by
singing teachers and in research, though he doesnít mention
that all Alexander teachers view the voice in this way. He
intends to follow this book in the future by a more complete
anatomy of the voice.
The author begins by describing what he calls the "design"
of the breathing system, the larynx and the musculature of
the throat, and how these work together to produce the
voice. I found parts of this section heavy going. The
subject is complex and I was sometimes confused by the
authorís descriptions. He uses the terms vocal chords, vocal
cords, vocal bands and vocal folds apparently
interchangeably. I was not always sure if he intended to
distinguish between them or not. The author is passionate
about his subject, but it was not always clear to me just
what he was trying to say. I felt the diagrams didnít always
clarify the text much either, which didnít help.
The next few chapters deal with more technical, often
controversial, vocal issues, familiar to singers, such as
support, vocal registers and placing. The author examines
these in the context of the whole-body approach to his
subject. These are interesting chapters, good to refer to. I
found a far greater clarity here in the way the author
expressed his ideas and the diagrams really added something
to the text.
In the later chapters the author turns to practical voice
work, promising procedures to prevent interference with the
vocal instrument, to coordinate breathing and voice to
produce a natural sung tone and to achieve effortless
control of the voice as a whole. This is a lot to promise
and I feel he can only partly deliver.
In chapter 9, "Preventing the Basic Pattern of Vocal
Misuse", he describes a common pattern of pulling down and
bracing the ribcage, together with forcing the voice, that
we often see in singers, especially pop singers. In trying
to address this general pattern of misuse, the author
describes in a few sentences with diagrams how to lie in
semi-supine and how to place yourself in a position of
mechanical advantage (monkey), in order to start "to restore
the system." He adds that this restoration takes time and is
the basis of all other positive changes, but he doesnít
mention the Alexander Technique, except by referring to
Alexanderís writing in the notes.
This seems to me a weakness in the book. I understand that
he wants to offer the general reader something that can be
done without the help of an Alexander teacher. However, I
donít feel entirely optimistic about the positive effect of
a reader trying a monkey without help or support. And though
I enjoyed the way Dimon introduces the practice of
inhibition in various places throughout the book, and
especially in the chapter on Producing a Pure Sung Tone,
towards the end I found this a bit laboured and likely to
However, in spite of my misgivings about readers trying to
work with Alexander procedures -
and understand Alexander
without help from a teacher, I found the chapters
on controlled exhalation and the whispered "ah" more
convincing. In chapters 11 and 12 Dimon writes interestingly
on how to work with a controlled exhalation and take this
into vocalising via the whispered "ah". I thought his
suggestions here were simple and useful. I could picture a
singer and maybe their singing teacher working their way
through this section and learning from it.
Thereís gold in this book, but you have to dig for it.
Describing the human voice and its workings in the context
of the whole body support system and setting out a whole
psychophysical approach to restoring good use of the voice
is an ambitious task in a book of only 140 pages.
I think the book provides a useful overview of its subject
and practical working material, not just for singers but for
all voice users.