LESSONS

Chrissellene's Journey

I was born in Washington, DC with a voice. It took me to University of Maryland, the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Indiana University and the Peabody Institute in Baltimore.

My voice took me to Europe, where I sang opera, operetta and musical theater and was contracted with the Vienna State Opera and the Kassel State Opera in Germany. Soon I was singing everywhere from Greece, France and Italy to The Kennedy Center and Lincoln Center.

Ultimately, my voice began to fail me.

I began to feel tension in my throat, the high notes were weakening, the low notes were disappearing, cracks began to appear and I could not sustain a long phrase.

Searching for Answers

I sought help from my father, an Otolaryngologist, (ENT) and he told me that if I did not have any pathology, his training could not help me. I sought guidance from some of the top singers of the day, but found no concrete answers.

I was so tired of not understanding nor having control of my voice.

For twelve years I worked extensively with medical doctors researching the function of the voice.

It is during this time my life’s journey changed from performer to researcher and, ultimately, teacher.

November 2007 Classical Singer magazine wrote about a master class with our beloved Luciano. Pavarotti told me to “cover” my high notes in a master class. At that time, I did not know what he was trying to help me do. I now know what he meant.

Today, I am 57 years old with 36 years of singing and 12 years of scientific research behind me. I have rebuilt my own voice, which is stronger than twenty years ago, based on the anatomic and physiologic principles I learned through work with doctors.

My personal struggle and quest to find the answers brings me to you today. It is a great privilege for me to become a bridge between singers and science.
Correct and Incorrect Vowel Formation
The MRI pictures below show the incorrect (top) and correct (bottom) function of the tongue during vowel formation.
 
   [click on image to enlarge]
 
The Singing MRI
In the Singing MRI video clip below, you hear and see the soft palate going up and down, on command. You can choose whether you want a non-nasal or nasal sound, in a healthy way.  From The 10 Technical Commands to Vocal Mastery™ by Chrissellene G. Petropoulos, B.A., M.Mus., A.D.

 

     Building Voices

After you master the 10 Technical Commands to Vocal Mastery™, you will know:

1. You will know when your control of the air is not correct. You will learn Commands 1, 2, 9 and 10.

2. You will recognize what the back of the tongue on the larynx sounds like. (Look at vowel formation MRI), Commands 4 and 5.

3. You will know how to control the soft palate/uvula area so you can choose whether you want a non-nasal or nasal sound, in a healthy way. (Look at Singing MRI) Command 6.

4. You will know when your throat and neck are not open enough for your vocal folds to vibrate optimally. You can decide the amount of resonance you want. Commands 7 and 8.

5. You will know why you feel tension in the throat and learn how to get rid of it. Command 7.

6. You will learn what it means when you crack or have a break and know how to repair it.

7. You will know what it means when you hear a pitch that is flat and will be able to fix it.

8. You will know how to engage the cricothyroid (CT) muscle for predictable/guaranteed high notes.

9. You will know how to engage the thyroarytenoid (TA) muscle for predictable low notes with powerful projection.

 
Private Lessons

Chrissellene will show you how to get your emotions out of your way and find the scientific function of your own vocal challenge using the 10 Technical Commands.

You choose the style or genre you wish to perform:

Performance Mode and The 10 Technical Command™ system provides fundamental changes in the way one builds, strengthens and repairs the breathing and vocal apparatus for the singing, acting and speaking voice. Vocal Mastery™ directly addresses and diagnoses the breathing and vocal mechanisms into discrete physical parts. This system demonstrates and creates an acute awareness of the value of knowing how and why your body functions, while strengthening your individual breathing, singing, and speaking mechanisms.

You must master the physiological and anatomical scientific knowledge of how your muscles work (intellectualize), be able to locate them (visualize), and physically work them (exercise).

Singers, actors, and speakers at any level of experience, skill, or talent need to become aware of their individual breathing and vocal muscular mechanisms in order to prevent vocal exhaustion, hoarseness, and range limitation.

When you have accomplished this, you will achieve Vocal Mastery™. Then you can add everything else, (interpretation, musicality, etc.) necessary in order to become a professional performer, without vocal damage.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes: Voice Lessons consist of two parts:

1. Performance Mode: Performance Mode is a state of mind that allows one to take both positive and negative criticism objectively, not personally. Many emotional reactions to a person or situation constrict the throat and make proper breathing difficult, impairing one’s ability to sing or speak effectively and without vocal fatigue. Performance Mode employs mental exercises to protect oneself from the adverse effects of criticism and to avoid throat constriction from stressful situations.

2. The 10 Technical Commands to Vocal Mastery™: Learn how to control your voice: The 10 Technical Commands system strengthens the foundation and technical control of the breathing and vocal apparatus by showing the how and why of each muscle-strengthening technique. Specific step-by-step instructions focus on exercising each anatomical target area.

Command 1 establishes proper alignment, (Posture).

Command 2 details the physical requirements of inhalation, explaining the ability to direct air into six specific areas.

Command 3 shows the proper function of the jaw in creating space for upper ranges.

Commands 4 and 5 address the three tongue positions; command 4 focuses on the front tip of the tongue which is responsible for consonants and achieving high and low notes, as well as the front middle for vowel formation. Command 5 trains the back of the tongue to be flat, wide and forward so as not to obstruct the air flow and maximize vocal projection. 

Command 6 describes the arching or dropping position of the soft palate, uvula and pharyngeal areas in order to avoid or create nasality.

Command 7 teaches expansion of the throat (pharyngeal constrictors), for optional amounts of resonance.

Command 8 continues with the needed expansion of the base-of-the-neck area, which adds to resonance and helps to increase range.

Commands 9 and 10 outline the countermotion and control of the exhalation mechanism.
Master Classes and Workshops

Master Class/Workshop Title: WHAT IS YOUR VOCAL CHALLENGE?

Presenter: Chrissellene G. Petropoulos, BA, M.Mus. A.D.

Summary: This master class/workshop is about the technical function of the voice. Chrissellene welcomes singers/actors who have the courage to share their vocal challenges, whether it be with chest/belting, fear of singing that high note, sustaining a long line, getting rid of breaks and cracks, projecting your speaking voice, or just wanting to relieve tension in the throat. You choose the genre you wish to perform.

In the PowerPoint/master class presentations, you see and hear in the MRI's, all 10 Technical Commands as well as the students demonstrating how to learn them and how they apply them to singing. You will hear and see the throat closed, and how it sounds, and then opened and how that sounds. You will be able to see and hear nasal and non nasal sounds and how to produce them in a healthy manner. You now can see what is actually going on inside of the head and thorax areas.

Master Classes and Workshops consist of two parts:

1. Performance Mode: Learn how to control your emotions from interfering with your breathing and vocal production. Performance Mode is the ability to take positive and negative criticism objectively, not personally. You will learn HOW to stop taking criticism personally, thus relieving tension in the throat and body.


2. The 10 Technical Commands to Vocal Mastery™: Learn how to control your voice: The 10 Technical Commands show you how to control all the muscles necessary for singing and speaking. You will learn how to inhale and exhale, how to position the jaw and tongue, how to lift the soft palate area, and how to open the throat and neck.


Performance Mode and The 10 Technical Command™ system provides fundamental changes in the way one builds, strengthens and repairs the breathing and vocal apparatus for the singing, acting and speaking voice.

Vocal Mastery™ directly addresses and diagnoses the breathing and vocal mechanisms into discrete physical parts. This system demonstrates and creates an acute awareness of the value of knowing how and why your body functions, while strengthening your individual breathing, singing, and speaking mechanisms.

Singers, actors, and speakers at any level of experience, skill, or talent need to become aware of their individual breathing and vocal muscular mechanisms in order to prevent vocal exhaustion, hoarseness, and range limitation.

Who: All ages, experience levels and voice classifications welcomed – from classical and musical theater to pop, rock and jazz – and any singer or actor who wishes to share their vocal challenges.

Date/Time: Click here to set up a master class/workshop.