Monica Norcia - Therapeutic Voice Teacher
Healing the Singing Voice - Classical to Broadway
San Rafael, CA 94901
Back in the old days - of Mozart and Schubert and Verdi and Puccini, for instance - audiences cherished a singer's seamless vocal lines, awe-inspiring range and clarion power. With the advent of Broadway and pop styles, the voice is used differently. More speech-like expression (belting) has moved into the limelight - think Elphaba in "Wicked" - and the voice is used more as an acting vehicle than musical instrument. Two very different goals and effects. Both hugely fun!
For those of us who choose to sing classical music - whether it be in a choral group, spiritual service, classical recital or the opera stage - the discovery of the free, dynamic power of the singing voice is an exciting journey. And for those of us who choose others styles - like singing in a local Broadway production or with your bluegrass band - you're uncovering your story-teller, with your expressive, ringing resonance and heart connection that moves people. Whatever your style, it's fulfilling to have people come up to you after the show and say, "Wow, you were wonderful!"
I call myself a “therapeutic voice teacher” because I have learned that not all of us are born with a naturally free and ringing singing voice. Oh, we're born with a voice, no doubt about that! If you can talk, you can sing. But some singers have an easier time than others and are more physically and emotionally "set up" for balanced, resonant vocal production. Others encounter (and often create) obstacles: We push and put too much pressure on our vocal cords; we're not sure how or when to breathe and we start to breathe funny; we have an inherently breathy sound and need to learn how to bring the vocal folds into better contact; or the challenges of the music make us grab with our throat muscles to reach our destination. I help you discover what's going on and find the proper balance of body, emotion and spirit by weaving together traditional vocal techniques with body and energy-centered modalities, such as the Alexander Technique, yoga-inspired movement and perhaps even Reiki.
My students are singers young and old, actors, people from all walks of life who want to improve the quality of their voice, resolve vocal problems or work through stage fright. I especially love working with beginners and am experienced, through music directing children’ shows, with guiding young men and women through the voice transition. As an excellent vocal/body/energetic diagnostician with deep knowledge of the vocal mechanism, I am also experienced in the older voice, helping students maintain vocal and body strength and flexibility in their later years. And, for singers of other styles, such as rock, standards, bluegrass or Broadway, we learn a healthy production that fits the needs of the style.
I also offer speech lessons for non-singers, such as business people who use their voices for work purposes.
Much of my teaching - and what I have worked on all my life in my own singing - is based on the goal of singing so easily and freely that one can interpret the music and meet its vocal challenges without worrying about its production. A tall order, I know, but a worthy journey!
What does a lesson look like? We first expose patterns of movement, alignment and response to the world that not only block our voices but also affect our overall good health. Through gentle “hands-on-the-body" touch, or perhaps table work or yoga-inspired movement, I help students become aware of their physical selves, their alignment and balance, any habitual ways of being or holding that may be interfering with the head-spine relationship, mobility in the joints, the breath and ultimately a free sound. Students explore vocal range, ease and balance through the registers, agility, resonance, discussion of voice “size” and use of the whole body in singing. Students also learn the differences between styles, e.g., the classical voice vs. the Broadway “sound,” and are encouraged to explore repertoire that best interests them and suits their voice.
My ultimate goal is to help students uncover their authentic voice and, hopefully, how singing, whether for oneself or in public, can be a wonderful part of a happy emotional and spiritual life. In that vein, I continue my own operatic studies with a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus, continuing to grow and passing on new discoveries to my students.
I was born in Rome, Italy, into a family of opera singers and actors. A Bay Area voice teacher, singing performer, pianist and music director since 1997, I received my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from California State University-Hayward. As a singer fluent in Italian, I enjoy specializing in the Italian/Neapolitan repertoire. After a 3-year training, I was certified in 2002 by the Alexander Technique Institute in San Francisco. I'm a Level 2 Reiki practitioner, certified in shamanic healing from HCH in Lafayette and am an avid yoga practitioner and meditator. I teach at JB Piano in San Rafael.
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