Singing Ergonomically

I recently participated in the Estill Voice Online Summit 2020 with other Estill trainers from around the world. Like most education-based enterprises these days, Estill Voice has fully embraced an online approach. Voice teaching via video call is certainly not a novel concept, however, what is new is its wide-spread use. It was encouraging to hear how other trainers are finding success for students via a non-traditional format.

A treat of the summit was watching a video of Jo Estill teaching a session. Her passion for understanding how the voice works is inspiring but it is important to remember that at the time, her convictions were met with resistance from her peers. Jo was undeterred in her quest to connect voice science knowledge to the practice of vocal training. In the face of criticism, Jo was unapologetic when saying, “It doesn’t matter what you think, this is how the body works—period.”

Paying attention to how the body works and then working with the body is related to ergonomics. “The word ergonomics comes from the Greek word “ergon” which means work and “nomos” which means laws. It’s essentially the “laws of work” or “science of work“1

At some level, all singers realize singing is work. But what are the laws or science that informs that work? Jo Estill wanted to answer this question in the belief that understanding would, as she said, lead to “vocal empowerment for all.” Learning to sing with “most comfortable vocal effort”2 is possible when one approaches singing ergonomically. This allows the singer to understand that the voice “should be under control so that the voice user knows the possibilities and restrictions of the voice as well as the risks that may threaten it.“3

If singing with “most comfortable vocal effort” is your desire, please contact me.

1 Middlesworth, Matt. Ergonomics 101: The Definition, Domains, and Applications of Ergonomics. (Ergo-plus.com)

2 Estill Voice Training concept

3 Sala, Eeva, & Rantala, Leena, ed. Voice Ergonomics: Occupational and Professional Voice Care.(www.cambridgescholars.com)

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