"Practice singing so that you can truly live. After all, it’s not the destination… it’s the vocal journey."

Award-winning author and widely acclaimed voice teacher Stoney opens a vast realm of exploration and examination for becoming and being a singer. His techniques are shared here in a mind-stirring combination of idea-laden narrative and graphic images that focus on the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of song making. The large-format guidebook begins with breathing. As with each detail covered, artist Mark Pate's full-color cartoons expertly illustrate the segments in this opening chapter. Here they show the structure and location of the diaphragm, which controls a person's breathing, and from which the singer's deepest power may emanate. Yet even here, as throughout this work, Stoney reminds readers that vocal artists for whom any particular skill is challenging can "sing like never before." Further recommendations on breathing and other bodily aspects of producing desired sounds include Pate's pictorial views of singing-related organs and structures inside the body. In addition to breathing techniques, Stoney's succinct advice covers in simple but intelligent terms such important areas of a singer's concentration as resonance, posture, the tongue, jaw and mouth, vocal health, performance, and the crucial understanding and utilization of the vocal folds.

This highly practical and readily comprehensible compendium was awarded the 2021 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize, a well-deserved achievement for a work that can be appreciated by a wide audience. Stoney is the founder of New York Vocal Coaching, is often featured in media, and collaborates with doctors in vocal science research. Pate, an award-winning illustrator, participates in Transform, an organization fostering art residencies. Each set of facing pages in their expertly organized treatise comprises Stoney's broad-ranging pedagogy accompanied by Pate's cartoon blurbs and situational drawings. The book covers, and sometimes puts to rest, many historical theories about the voice, defines such arcane terms as falsetto and flageolet, and introduces relevant scientific terminology such as oropharynx, cricothyroid, and epithelium. It offers sound counsel concerning more effective vowel and consonant production, singing in higher or lower registers, jaw movement exercises, age, posture, performance, and general health recommendations. Importantly, the narrative always carries the proviso that every singer is unique and will utilize different mental and physical gifts and requirements. The book's continual emphasis on the individual—his or her needs, challenges, and wishes no matter how unconventional—gives a strong, spiritually-based reminder that one doesn't need to give up any struggle based on a single, supposed flaw or weakness. Dedicated practice and positive attitudes can compensate for a multitude of real or perceived deficits.

Those who teach vocal technique at any level, singers wanting to improve their presentation and power, and prospective vocal artists (whether barroom or ballroom) looking for creative starting points will find lively, memorably humorous, readily accessible lessons and wisdom here. Additionally, someone with a close friend or family member striving to dedicate themself to the world of song can learn more about those aspirations, and perhaps even take up singing. For, as Stoney reminds readers, "if you use your voice positively for just one other person, then you'll have forever impacted the world."

The 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Winner

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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