VOMITARE and Calibrated Loops


Evan Bortnick       http://musa-vocalis.de/

Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the term “Vomitare”. It was proceeded by an experience I had singing in Innsbruck. It was during a love duet with a gorgeous soprano with long, thin, natural hair. We were in one of those typical, close duet clinches. I took a long, slow, meditative breath and along with air, in came one strand of hair. The vocal lips closed automatically over the hair and as I pulled away, the strand came out. My dinner was close to coming out as well. It didn’t. What did happen was that the gag reflex got my larynx lower than I’d ever experienced and the rest of the duet felt like I’d exchanged my instrument with Caruso. Everything was easier and fuller, including the applause after the duet. The soprano looked at me offstage and asked; ‘what, you going to start singing Wagner now? What was that?” “Uh….no……but….” and I told her what happened.

I happened to have been working at the time with a classic “Bel Canto” traditionalist. When I told him the story his eyes lit up. VOMITARE!!!! After we did a couple of exercises in that direction, things were a bit clearer. Good thing too. It didn’t seem all that comfortable singing that close to the gag reflex.

I’ve used this effectively with a couple of students. I’ve found that, along with the yawn reflex and so much else in vocal pedagogy, it’s best to use it with moderation. Thing is, if you tell a student to consciously ‘yawn’, she’ll usually use excessive tongue pressure to initiate the reflex. The same is even truer of “Vomitare”. Our human consciousness is a tricky thing sometimes. Being TOO conscious of something usually means using unwanted helping tensions to regulate it. Then, of course, we become conscious of the helping tension, which involves even more helping tensions to solve the problem of the helping tensions! In German we call this a “Teufelskreis”. In NLP we call it a negative calibrated loop. Whatever you call it, the only way to turn it around is through a precise balance of consciousness and autopilot. Lately I’ve been making this explicit with students right from the beginning. If I mention ‘yawn’ or ‘vomitare’ I make as clear as clear can be that these reflexes are not to be directly consciously regulated. Even though I know this is something of a double bind (please don’t be conscious of something you’re now conscious of), the balance that’s necessary here between control and release is essential for singers to understand right from the beginning.

This balance is a talent in itself, as important as “The Voice” or musicianship. Like any talent, it can be encouraged right from the beginning.

Evan Bortnick       http://musa-vocalis.de/

Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden


About evanb54

I'm a passionate, curious learning junkie--- an X-Opera Singer turned Voice Teacher, Voice Teachers Teacher, NLP Lehrtrainer, Off-Path Coach, Cranio-Sacral worker and a few other even less mainstream things. Everything I've learned or taught revolves around THE VOICE. The Voice as a tool of artistic expression. The Voice as a tool of emotional transparency. The voice as a tool of flexible communication. If you're interested in voice lessons or vocal pedagogy, please visit this site: https://www.musa-vocalis.de/ There's an English and a German version. If you're interested in voice coaching, public speaking, trainer skills or presentation skills, please visit me here: https://www.vocalimpactpotential.de/ ..and feel free to send any questions. Looking forward to hearing from you! More information can be found at my Institute Site: www.musa-vocalis.de The Wiesbaden Academy of the Vocal Muse Gesangsunterricht Wiesbaden, Coaching, Voice Pedagogy
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1 Response to VOMITARE and Calibrated Loops

  1. Sune says:

    This happens to me all the time! A revelation to see it in print from a teacher. I used to be able to sing freely many years back, but after taking it up again I am struggling. The only reason I haven’t given up is because I sometimes succeed, then it works a couple of days (to my great exhilaration), but then it goes away again. I am quite convinced now it is because I get into these negative calibrated loops, overfocusing on something (such as vomitare), wanting it way too much in a way and fully set on reproducing the previous experience. But how to get out of this? Is it enough knowing about it and trying to focus on other aspects, trying to be more relaxed about it? (Obsess less)

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