Peter T Harrison
singing teacher & author

This is a book for all who enjoy singing and who study it, whether they are teachers, aspiring performers, partners in music-making or employers. It is for all those who are concerned with the health of voices and for singers who wish to improve their vocal performance. And it is for anyone who is interested in the integrity and depth of human communication.

The singing voice is a natural phenomenon belonging universally to the human species. I begin my book by discussing how this innate instrument of expression is adversely affected by so-called civilising processes and locked into inflexible cultural-linguistic 'shapes', which normally prevent it from realising its true singing potential. This discussion provides an invaluable background of causes and effects (physical, psychological and emotional), of diagnostic clues and reference points for the work of vocal reconditioning.

The holistic principle is currently at the cutting edge of scientific research and philosophical explorations into how the world works or might work better. 'Holistic' means 'whole' and by extension 'healthy'. The Human Nature of the Singing Voice, in exploring the singer, their voice and their singing from this perspective, aims to gain a greater understanding of what we as teachers and performers and employers are dealing with.

My hope in making this exploration is that it will provide teachers of singing with a sound basis upon which to build their teaching practice, and provide their students with guidelines for intelligent participation in the process.


  • Speaking and singing - fundamental differences
  • Fitness and specific vocal training
  • Singing as a barometer of health
  • Voice and other instruments: crucial differences
  • Training and singing as distinct activities
  • Muscle training: how to/how not to exercise, fitness and hard training
  • Dangers of product-based training
  • Ethics: I question the soundness of training voices to satisfy a specific sound-style
  • Listening to the voice and the dangers of physical monitoring
  • Tools and the training process
  • Terminology blocks: support, vibrato, registers, technique etc. redefined
  • 'You are your voice and it is you' - what this means for training and performing
  • Individuality: its importance in training and potency in performance
  • Gender, sexuality, rhythmic vitality, creativity
  • Pupil's participation in her/his own development
  • Preparation: its bearing on memorisation, confidence, spontaneity
  • Physiology of emotions and the singing voice
  • Compatibility of singing music, articulating words and expressing emotion
  • Attributes of a fully liberated voice
  • Communication as a human imperative
  • Bel canto redefined in terms of truthful communication
  • Role of the singer's audience
  • Obstacles to progress, including egoism and Gurus

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