I had an extraordinary experience yesterday! I had an opportunity to be part of an experiment the likes of which haven’t been performed before as far as I know. What you see here are images of my brain as I’m singing. I’m singing a new song of mine, in fact, called Beautiful You Are while in an MRI-machine. Dude! That’s my brain!!! You’re actually witnessing the contents of my head, and the colorful neural activity of me singing my song! But before you get confused, let me tell you a little more about these vivid and beautiful images of my insides.
I’ve been working with my vocal teacher, conductor, and former opera singer Denes Striny, for about a year now. He trains mostly opera singers in a vocal technique that focuses on loosening the larynx and the muscles of the neck while you sing. The idea is to use your voice in a way that creates the least constriction possible in the vocal chords by moving the voice into the head. In our sessions he always talks about letting Mother Nature do what it does naturally when it comes to the voice, and in his expert opinion the path of least constriction is Her way. (I find this to be true about many other things too actually…)
Mr. Striny has been working on his philosophy and technique of singing for decades now (check out his book “Head First”), and he has a theory that his practices may offer major health benefits to all people, not just singers. My task, along with opera singer Amy Schroeder, was to serve as brain-scan guinea pigs. We were to get into the machine for 8 minutes and sing the way we normally would, even as the machine beeped, boomed and vibrated loudly around our heads. I was representing the world of pop-singing, which by its very nature is more “chest-voice”-oriented. Amy on the other hand represented the classical world, and has many years of training with Striny under her belt.
I took the images you see here off the lab’s computer-screen after the experiment. These pictures and more will be evaluated and studied in another laboratory later on to determine….what? I don’t really know yet. The coming weeks and months will reveal more information regarding the results of Striny’s study. I for one am extremely curious to learn more!
On my end, this was a fun and fascinating adventure. It is not every day that one gets the opportunity to sing while lying flat on one’s back in a magnetic space-age capsule. This whets my appetite for singing in a space shuttle or a rocket ship, in zero gravity..! But, I digress…. One thing at a time!