Now, I did go about this in my idiosyncratic way -- which is: I researched all of the ones I have already studied to see if I wanted to focus on any of those, I wrote my favorite past vocal teacher (Deena Burke) to get her opinion, and then I researched vocal techniques I haven't studied to see if I would be interested in any of those. I landed on Fitzmaurice work because there is a woman (Kristen Loree) in Albuquerque, who is certified in that technique, and I've always been intrigued by her and I respect her work...so...I thought I would just give it a whirl.
The other, sort of key thing to making this decision was the fact that I needed to decide to certify in something physical, vocal, or in the "acting pedagogy" spectrum. This was also an idiosyncratic decision. I tend to make decisions when studying things to choose the thing that scares me the most because I tend to think that there's some subconscious or unconscious reason that I'm afraid, and if I can discover that, I might be able to move up in some Jungian level of consciousness...which is very satisfying because it's almost like my life is one big video game and I can go to the next level and eventually play the "big guy" at the end of that level, and feel an enormous feeling of accomplishment when I've finally beat him or her. (Full disclosure: I have not played video games since I was 12...but I believe some Zelda-type games never leave one's experience of the here-and-now).
For example, when I was in graduate school I had decided to choose classes that would fill in the gaps of anything in theater that I didn't know too well. One of those classes was set design. Set design was the scariest and the most tear-inducing class I have ever taken. It was so traumatizing that I would even start crying when I saw my set design instructor walking across the lawn toward my direction...even if he wasn't coming towards me. However, in this instance, and in many others, my intuition was correct: I did learn something that I couldn't have learned without jumping into the deep end feet first. I could not "see" what my set design teacher could "see" naturally. I had to buckle down and cry and read several different perspectives about drafting before I could finally start "seeing" what I needed to draw on paper. After that experience I knew I would have to sometimes jump into a "scary" experience to pull me out of whatever slump I was experiencing in my process.
So...I chose voice work because I have always been blessed with a good ear, good projection, good volume, and, so I've been told, a decent singing voice, but voice classes always scared the crap out of me. I would become claustrophobic, tense, tongue-tied, and I would want to cry, but something inside me wouldn't let me cry. One of the women I respected the most in these voice classes asked me in a conference whether or not I liked her -- she thought I didn't. Which is interesting because I liked her and respected her almost more than any other teacher, but I was so painfully shy and I also had a healthy fear of women (based on some past childhood trauma), so I didn't really know how to communicate with her...which is funny because that's what voice class is for - to practice communication in such a way that the actor can communicate any person in the human spectrum. I have never been able to marry the fact that I was given an instrument that is louder and more articulate that many others, and, yet, I want to die, on the spot, if I have to only use it.
I am now two months into this process, and I have discovered a lot about myself, my process, and the empathy needed for any teacher of theater, especially the voice. Today Kristen started doing what she calls "Destructuring De-Structuring." De-Structuring is the first step in Catherine Fitzmaurice's work and it works with several positions that the performer "tremors" in; allowing the voice to find its natural breath, tone, and journey. We destructured the hip-sling (very similar to the yoga bridge pose, but the participant brings their knees closer together to begin a very subtle tremor in the psoas muscle region). We tremor-ed in it for about, maybe 10 minutes and then we spent the rest of the time discussing it. She asked me if I had any discoveries, which is always hard to respond to right away because I tend to be in a "jello-brain" right after any innervated work. But, I responded that I had some responses that were physiological, emotional, and psychological. We discussed all except the emotional because she's aware of my father's recent death and she knows that my tremor-ing usually brings up some emotion; she also knows that it's not good to touch that cookie of emotion right now. So...we discussed the others. Physiologically, I noticed that my good knee (my right knee) hurt a lot in this position. I'm not sure why that happened, but I took note of it and I'll check in with it later.
Psychologically I noticed that it brought up a lot of past knowledge about voice that I had a lot of trouble with during undergraduate school, and continue to do so. Some of that involves the decision to speak or not speak. I used to be painfully shy and speaking was not my modicum of operation in most classes or social settings. So, when we were asked in a Linklater class to breathe out on a sigh, mine always had a bit of a catch to the beginning and ending of the breath because I was forcing the sound as opposed to allowing the sound to occur. I also have a knowledge that the sound we were using, during the hip-sling tremor, "ah" as in "father" has not only an emotional tie to it, but it's always been a sound I struggle with when singing and working in a voice class. It has always felt quite vulnerable to me, and hard to sustain the pure sound for longer than a moment. To intone on an "ah" for an extended period of time feels forced because my brain seems to have trouble letting go of it's history with that sound. In the hip-sling position we raised our hands into a high ballet first-position arms and intoned on "ah". I noticed, as usual, and I'm pretty sure Kristen noticed that I was forcing the sound, and try as I might to let go and "allow", I could not.
Kristen and I also talked about "obligation" and even if the student doesn't always do the work "correctly" having an obligation is way better than a student who does not feel obligated to even try. I have obligation for days, but somehow this illusive "ah" comes back to haunt me in several arenas.
So..."Ah" is now the "big guy" at the end of this first level of Voice Work, and I will now take this "Ah" on as a challenge...I am scared of "Ah", which is funny because it is the first sound in awestruck/awesome and those word definitely fulfill an adjective for fear...a stopping moment...a moment where the only sound that comes out is not a word, but "ah". So..."Ah" you are put on notice...I'm going to learn how to "ah"low you, as opposed to force you and be the boss of you. I'm scared of you and I am, in fact, in "awe" of you, but you will not win this particular level...I'm going to surpass your "ah"some power, and tell King Koopa "hi" for me.