I’m here in Los Angeles for five weeks as part of the Fitzmaurice Voicework ® Teachers Certification programme. It’s 106°F degrees Fahrenheit outside. Frying an egg on the pavement would be no problem. The city has an abundance of concrete and cars - I’m grateful that between the cracks in the concrete the intrepid green shoot of my vocal curiosity is thriving.
I first encountered Fitzmaurice Voicework ® in London when I was doing my Masters in Voice Studies. At Royal Central we were offered experiences in a range of methodologies - this gave us an overview of the diversity and breadth of methodologies and advanced training available. I have immense respect for innovative voice practitioners like Arthur Lessac, Cecily Berry, Kristin Linklater and Patsy Rodenberg who push the boundaries and question the received wisdom of the day.
Catherine Fitzmaurice is an such an innovator. A stellar student of Royal Central, she returned to teach there in the sixties, before moving to America and developing the practice that is now Fitzmaurice Voicework ®. The methodology continues to evolve, and Catherine encourages teachers to blend, adjust, evolve and adapt around the core principles.
At Central we met, and briefly worked with Saul Kotzubei, Catherine’s son. The practical elements of voice that Saul offered were refreshing, playful and empowering. Saul also modeled a way of teaching that I have never forgotten, and which was a big part of my wish to come and train here. At the start of the course in LA, we had an intensive four day workshop with Saul, and this laid the foundation for our learning practice in the ensuing five weeks.
I’m with a group of people from all over the world that I trust, respect and am learning so much from. The intensive nature of the training is made so much richer because of the relationships we have with each other. A specific tool Saul introduced us to, is ‘brief and frequent eye contact’ – from a teacher of his, Ray Castellino. Research has found that it’s a tool which helps a group to ‘self regulate’, it creates a blast of oxytocin, and used frequently, builds an environment of mutual support. We’ve been making brief and frequent eye contact…a lot. A lovely comparison was made with a farm in Spain, run by a Fitzmaurice teacher, that rescues abused horses. When a new horse arrives, it is frightened and skittish, but the other horses gather together and stand with the newcomer, who is calmed by the collective.
Hard to believe there is only one week to go, but after this week, its back to the lovely green and wintry land of Aotearoa, and the challenge of integrating and applying Fitzmaurice Voicework ® to my voice teaching practice begins! I’d love to share with you what I’ve been learning, so if you’d like to work with me individually or in a group, please get in touch.
Best wishes from LALA land.