In my latest blog post I wrote about the masque, stating it´s a good thing. Ok, I still think so, but I´m also aware there are many singers and voice teachers who don´t subscribe to this thinking. Why is that? There are many reasons why not all singers find it helpful and just as many reasons why some singing teachers have found it counterproductive. It´s a good thing but can easily be missunderstood. And in that case it´s better to forget about it at least for a while.
Let me explain. The voice flows out of you as sound waves. You need very little air to get the vocal cords to vibrate. It is not the air in fact that gives you the feeling of the masque but it can be helpful to imagine so. If you start pushing air forward to feel this masque you are definitely out for trouble. That destroys the delicate balance of the instrument. The old Italian masters said: “inhalare la voce ma cantare davanti” , inhale the voice but sing forward. What does that mean? Feel as if you are sucking in air, or “drinking” the voice while singing because then you don´t push, you stay better connected to the body and keep the space in the pharynx open. On the other hand, the voice has to come out as well as the text. Therefore, at the same time, imagine singing out, letting the tongue come forward and the text to flow easily to the listeners ears. If you can combine these two there is good balance of function as well as balanced sound. Because of fear of losing this balanced function many teachers do not advocate singing in the masque.
I still insist on the masque as an end product but not necessarily as a method for beginning singers. Only gradually you become aware of this feeling. And when you get it, your voice will have roundness and carrying power. But it requires wise training and kinesthetic awareness no to push while still maintaining the masque feeling. It gives the passaggio and higher notes a forward placement, roundness and brilliance, the feeling of a high ceiling above and also balances the pressure from below. It is part of you” inner microphone”, your built-in amplifcation.