OK I know that this isn’t news for any professional (or even amateur) singer, or the army of other voice artists out there, but frankly it wasn’t until I started having singing lessons with the amazing Kate Mullins (from magnificent and extremely glamorous, close harmony trio The Puppini Sisters that I understood quite how miraculous those less than an inch vocal folds are. Of course people make entire careers about studying the health of these little beauties and yet an infant not ten seconds out of the wombs can fill their darling little lungs with air and the entire maternity ward with a brilliant yell.
Then we spend the rest of our lives trying not to do that. In case you need reminding – as Patsy Rodenberg (Head of Voice at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and former head of voice at the National Theatre and revered voice guru) – once said to me in an interview “just go to your local hardware store and listen to a terrible two year old having a tantrum” I paraphrase but you get the gist.
I’m not qualified or enlightened enough to go into too much detail here but the programme I never got to make for the BBC (yes, it still hurts that BBC Radio 4 turned it down) is how much your voice is linked to who you are. Why when you are upset not only can you not sing, you are barely able to speak. You’ve probably been to enough funerals to have worked this out for yourself. Even at my own mother’s funeral when I had tasked myself with saying a poem in Hungarian (which she was), I was feeling perfectly OK standing up in front of nearly 200 people but my voice wasn’t having any of it. Afterwards, while it cracked as I was speaking to people I felt like giving it a right talking to (is that possible? Talking to your Vocal folds?) and saying that I felt fine.
Kate Mullins by the way is the bee knees as a teacher and has a huge following as one third of The Puppini Sisters founded by her ol’ pal from Trinity Laban Conservatoire Marcella Puppini. They singe fabidoobi close harmony swing, jazz, Andrews Sisters stuff. I am indeed lucky. Meanwhile feast your eyes on their video .. Jilted