Book Reviews

Vocal pedagogy books that advocate a specific methodology have a tendency to display certain tiresome characteristics. Lengthy accounts of individual success stories that tout a program’s efficacy, for instance, can feel like program-length commercials in book form. Equally bothersome is an author who spends more time denigrating other methods as inferior instead of demonstrating why their method should be preferred. 

Refreshingly, these tactics are absent in Heart-Based Singing published by StellaRose Publishing. Instead of the hard sell, author Agatha Carubia fills the pages of her book with inspiring thoughts and techniques she has developed to help make singing a more enjoyable, full-body experience. 

The “heart of the matter” of her technique is to identify personal sensations, vibrations, and awarenesses and to use them as reference points for singing. She does this by incorporating the chakra system from Eastern yogic philosophy into classical singing. 

Carubia calls the technique a hybrid of everything she has learned in her life as a soprano, a musician, and a yogi. The chapters, then, cover the pertinent vocal topics (including posture, breathing, connecting breath to sound, and resonance) while interweaving information about energy centers in the body. Considering the popularity of yoga among singers, as well as among the population at large, the principles and terminology she uses may already be familiar to many. 

Though the Juilliard-trained author demonstrates a solid understanding of vocal function, she often chooses nontechnical language in order to discourage the overly analytical thinking and micromanagement that can limit freedom in singing. 

While the book is not intended to be comprehensive in its discussion of pedagogy, it is a beneficial companion to vocal study that provides unique perspectives and valuable ideas.

As the title implies, Heart-Based Singing encourages a spirit of discovery and exploration. Carubia’s techniques have the potential to empower singers to uncover deeper connections between body and voice that would serve to increase balance, effortlessness, and authentic expression.


—Brian Manternach, Classical Singer Magazine, February 2017

 

Heart-Based Singing: Vocal Technique; is a stimulating self help vocal technique manual that is

full of skilled advice about good vocal practices. Written by an experienced Julliard graduate with both vocal teaching and yoga background, Heart-Based Singing incorporates chakra theory and yoga posture practices into vocal exercise and training techniques.

 

Simply but clearly written, with color coded chakra sigils, Heart-Based Singing at Chapter I begins with a seven point list of the principles of heart-based singing, according to the chakras. The author states, "Your guide for this journey into singing is your heart". Further elaboration follows with the coordination of heart-based singing, the focal points of heart-based singing, and the vocal registers of heart-based singing. Chakra theory provides an intriguing avenue to improved vocal technique and awareness because "examining the chakra system illuminates the fact that we are physical beings with universal energy moving through us (p. 12)".

 

Different posture techniques and exercises are suggested in chapter II, Establishing a Routine. Chapter III addresses Breath Support: the Physical Focal Point: The Core of the Pelvis. Color coded chakra symbols are listed at the chapter's beginning to heighten chakra awareness. Chapter IV deals with the Resonator, Physical Focal Point: Hard Palate/Third Eye (employs chakras 4, 5, 6, 7). Many helpful physical, meditational, and vocal exercise approaches are employed in this chapter.

 

Chapter V deals with singers' gold, Vowels and Resonance, Physical Focal Point: the Heart (employs Chakras 4, 5, 6, 7). Further vocal exercises and teachings of the Italian vowels are included. Favorite quote: "Your air and your voice are one, at your heart (p. 49)." Chapter VI reviews Application of Your Technique, Repertoire Preparation, and Chapter VII lists beautiful categories with a flavor of Khalil Gibran's "The Prophet" of Vocal Maxims For the Heart-Based Singer. These include such important vocal subjects as On Posture, On Singing, On Technique, On Warming Up, On Support and Breathing, and many more.

 

All the author's advice is priceless, and beautifully written. Heart-Based Singing is a vocal performer's guide to enlightened self improvement, incorporating chakra -based energy infusions into classic vocal technique and training in an unforgettable way.

 

- Nancy Lorraine, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review​, April 2016