Set Your Voice Free: How to Get the Singing or Speaking Voice You Want by Roger Love
I am familiar with the authors, and especially Roger's prior works on vocal training. I liked his prior works, so, I was curious to learn his latest tricks of the trade. In SET YOUR VOICE FREE, Roger Love emphasizes the importance of MIDDLE voice: "This incredible, little-recognized part of the voice, which I specialize in helping people strengthen, is responsible for bringing a new kind of power and ease to both speaking and singing."
To help the vocal student, there are separate audio tracks so that you can hear what middle voice sounds like, and experience for yourself what it feels like going into Middle voice. Roger explains: "I’ve found that by using singing exercises to help people improve the way they speak, I can make bigger leaps much more quickly than even a speech pathologist might."
I tried the audio exercises from the accompanying website. There are pretty simple--especially the earlier exercises. In the vocal exercises, Roger contrasts Chest voice versus Middle, and also Head voice. He suggests just brief work-outs at first--don't overdo it! One of the key recommendations from Roger is to always RECORD your voice as you practice. For one thing, these recordings can help you see as you make progress.
The middle voice is not just for singers--speakers can also benefit: "Using the middle-voice exercises is a litmus test for speakers. When you are able to find middle and play with it, you can be assured that you are breathing in a way that will keep your voice strong and powerful."
After the singer is comfortable with middle voice, it's time to begin "blending" chest and head voice. The goal is to blend in the chest and head voice: "You’ll eventually wind up at the Emerald City meeting the Wizard, which I define as having the perfect blend of chest and head to form absolute middle. "
Besides the exercise, the author includes a variety of other tips. If you are an experienced singer, you will likely already know these tips, but it's always good to hear good tips emphasized. Here's one funny (but valuable) tip: "The most important piece of advice I can give you if you want to get the maximum performance from your voice consists of three words: drink more water."
All in all, I found SET YOUR VOICE FREE to be an encouraging, useful book. I think it's probably best for beginner or intermediate singers. I really like the audio exercises that help me transition to Middle voice.
For those interested in further study of learning middle and head voice, here is my favorite work by the classic teacher, D.A. Clippinger:
Advance Review Copy courtesy of the publisher.