Today’s guest is Kristen Roney & Mark Moliterno.

As voice teachers it is important, we have a healthy balance of being open to different modalities that can help our students communicate who they truly are in the most authentic way possible. This week on A Voice and Beyond, we welcome Kristin Roney and Mark Moliterno, who formed YogaVoice® together. This is a two-part interview as there is so much to unpack around our discussion on YogaVoice®; a unique pedagogical program that combines several traditions of Yoga philosophy and practice with Systematic Voice Technique to develop authenticity and wellness in the art of singing and personal communication.

Both Mark and Kristin are accomplished classical singers with extremely successful performance careers and have studied vocal pedagogy in higher education. Mark studied with Richard Miller for many years and tells us that the work of Richard Miller is the backbone of YogaVoice® and what they do vocally in YogaVoice® is the gateway to functional efficiency in the voice, irrespective of style. It is not exclusive to classical singing. They believe that “the voice” is an energetic instrument that manifests through a physical mechanism, and YogaVoice® is a way to help singers access what is already there within them and within their own voices.

In this episode Mark and Kristin also dispel many of the myths around the practice of yoga, such as it being a spiritual practice, and they best describe yoga as a technology, which in their practice, is a gateway to ultimately elevate, empower, and free the voice. And for those who believe that one needs to be fit and flexible to undertake this program, Mark and Kristen tell us that they meet the individual needs of their clients with an ease, steadiness and comfort in their practice. Mark and Kristin explain the benefits of YogaVoice®, how this work is applied in the voice studio, the philosophies behind the program, and much much more.

This is such an enlightening interview with Kristin Roney and Mark Moliterno, and remember that this is only part one of a two-part interview with YogaVoice® with part two will be released next week.

In this Episode
1:15 – Introduction
6:35 – How Mark and Kristin started
15:28 – Yoga’s impact on singing
34:04 – What makes YogaVoice Unique
21:33 – Scientific, Pedagogical, and Yoga
41:48 – The 7 Chakras

Find YogaVoice® Online


Putting yourself first is important because it allows you to prioritize your own needs and well-being, which in turn can help you be more productive, creative, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. By taking care of yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others and contribute positively to the world around you.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:00

Hi it’s Marissa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. In these episodes, our brilliant lineup of guests will include healthcare practitioners, voice educators, and other professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialized fields to empower you to live your best life. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. It’s time now to share your gift with others develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, it’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:16

As voice teachers, it is important we have a healthy balance of being open to different modalities that can help our students communicate who they truly are in the most authentic way possible. This week on a voice and beyond. We welcome Kristin Roney and Mark Moliterno, who together form YogaVoice. This is a two-part interview as there is so much to unpack around our discussion on yoga voice which is a unique pedagogical program that combines several traditions of yoga philosophy and practice with systematic voice technique to develop authenticity and wellness in the art of singing and personal communication. Both mark and Kristin are accomplished classical singers with extremely successful performance careers and have studied vocal pedagogy in higher education. Mark studied with Richard Miller for many years and tells us that the work of Richard Miller is the backbone of yoga voice and what they do vocally in yoga voice is the gateway to functional efficiency in the voice irrespective of style, it is not exclusive to classical singing. They believe that the voice is an energetic instrument that manifests through a physical mechanism and yoga voice is a way to help singers access what is already there within them and within their own voices. In this episode, Mark and Kristin also dispelled many of the myths around the practice of yoga such as it being a spiritual practice, and they best describe yoga as a technology, which in their practice is a gateway to ultimately Elevate, empower and free the voice. And for those who believe that one needs to be fit and flexible to undertake this program, they tell us that they meet the individual needs of their clients with an ease steadiness and comfort in their practice. Mark and Kristin explained the benefits of yoga voice, how this work is applied in the voice studio, the philosophies behind the program, and much, much more. This is such an enlightening interview with Kristin Roney and Mark Moliterno. And remember, this is part one of a two part interview with the YogaVoice and part two will be released next week. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:20

Welcome to a voice and beyond. We have quite a treat today. We have a two for one deal. We have yoga voice in the studios today. We would like to welcome Mark Moliterno, which is a nice Italian name. And Kristin Roney, who together YogaVoice and I am so thrilled to have you here. How

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:48

are you both

Mark Moliterno  04:51

doing very well. Thank you for having us.

Kristin Roney  04:53

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  04:55

So where are you located? Where are you Kristen?

Kristin Roney  04:59

I am in Northern New Jersey,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:01

okay, and mark,

Mark Moliterno  05:03

and I’m in the northern part of Philadelphia, of Pennsylvania in the Lehigh Valley. Okay,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  05:09

I don’t know where that is, I know Philadelphia. And that’s where we met, we actually met at the voice foundation symposium where you came up and introduce yourself. And I’m so grateful. Because since then I’ve looked into the work that you both do. And it is brilliant work. And I think we’re at a stage in time where we need to be open to different modalities, people are needing different approaches that they’re needing. It’s not a one size fits all. It’s not a one tool fits all approach to the singing voice anymore. People, especially since the pandemic, and needing different types of of help, and different types of therapies. And I love the work that you’re doing. So I’d like to start by introducing you both. So Kristin, you’re a mezzo soprano, and you’ve had a huge career, a very successful performance, career, and you’re also a voice teacher, and you’ve maintained an active voice studio since 2009. And Mark, you’re an accomplished professional opera singer, voice teacher, yoga teacher, you’re a certified yoga, ther- therapist, a workshop leader and author.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:35

So both of you, where did you meet? What’s your backgrounds here?

Mark Moliterno  06:42

We meet on the third floor of Erdman Hall and Westminster choir College. Tuesday morning at eight o’clock.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:52

Okay, so what were you doing there?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  06:55

Kristen? Ah, well,

Kristin Roney  06:57

I was spending majority of my time freelancing. And I was struggling with the fact that I was getting all these gigs that Kristin and grad school would have felt like we’re like, made it moments for me in my career. And I was really unhappy. And I felt, I felt like, well, wait a minute. These are those gigs that you, you were like, like that would be that you made it like that would mean success for you. And I was just not happy. And I couldn’t quite figure out why. And I’ve always been interested in holistic approaches to anything. And and I was speaking with a very dear friend, and she said, Oh, have you heard of this teacher? Mark Moliterno? No. And I said, No, who’s that? And she said, Oh, you know, I think you should reach out to him about lessons. And I’ve always been interested in the chakra system. And she knew that. And so she said, I think he works with like chakras and stuff like that. And I was like, okay. Yes, the woowoo, all that stuff. And I grew up in Northern California and went to Waldorf school. So like, I prescribed to all of that. That’s, that’s great. So I think you need a healthy balance of, of being open to different types of modalities. So I had a lesson with Mark, and I was hooked. Like one lesson. I was like, Yep, this is a great, I want to work this way. And so I did, and he was my teacher for a very long time. And my mentor, and then that relationship shifted to business partners. And here we are. Yep. So

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:51

your background, though? You’re a trained classical singer. And yes, yes. And you’ve had this amazing performance career, like, what are some of the gigs that you you were doing? Because when I read your bio, I’m going well, this is incredible. And so, you know, you’ve had you had that success. And I’d like to know, so what kind of work were you doing? You came to a place where none of that was satisfying you.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  09:26

And what did Mark help you what turned around at that point? Of well,

Kristin Roney  09:36

so in terms of gigs, I was doing choral gigs at Alice Tully Hall. And those felt like made it moments for me, you know, like some of the more elite choirs in New York and then I was getting roles for things, roles that I really wanted and that was exciting. I had an opportunity to sing at the Vatican. That was exciting as well.

Kristin Roney  10:08

Oh, yes. And it’s, you know, it’s

Kristin Roney  10:10

like so huge. I’ve it was the first time I’d ever been I was like, could not believe how massive it was.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:17

It’s massive. It’s my

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  10:20

whole city. It has its own postcode. Yeah.

Kristin Roney  10:24

Yeah, I know. I was, like, I just I was, yeah, even thinking about it. Now. I think I have a hard time like, like, conceptualizing in my mind how big the Vatican is. Yeah. Anyway, I was I was in these rehearsals for one particular gig. And I was shocked by how unhappy all the people were and how, and it made me take a step back, because I was like, Oh, I don’t want that. Hold on. Like, I don’t I don’t feel this way. That doesn’t make sense. Like, this is supposed to be a joyful act. And it doesn’t feel that way. And things weren’t quite clicking. So I took a step back because of various reasons. And I decided I was just going to sing, to sing. And I was going to maintain my studio and say yes to the things that I knew I would enjoy doing creatively, and not have it be about money. So I did that for a while. That’s tough. Yeah,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:39

that’s tough when, essentially, we

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:42

all need an income. And to make that choice and to go, I’m only going to do the things that bring me joy.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  11:49

And then when you found Mark, what changed? What was the shift? For you? Well, Mark, taught

Kristin Roney  12:01

and still teaches like, this is a bedrock foundational concept for your voice that you’re already hold that there’s nothing wrong with you or broken. And so the fact that I was having these, like, you know, somatic messages that like, No, this is not working, that that was something to listen to. And I felt so much joy, just in my one lesson with Mark that I was like, Well, I’m just gonna, I read it somewhere. It’s like, I think some, some like coaches called the lighthouse method, like, when you don’t know what you want to do, you just do things that make you feel happy or joyful. Yes. And it doesn’t matter what it is, or if they’re related or not, you just keep doing those things. And it’s like rowing your boat towards a lighthouse, the more you do it, the more you will, it will become clear what it is you really, really want to do. So that was what those were. So I did that. So I just kept going back. And then I got trained, in yoga voice and became a teacher and went through training with Mark, and I’m a much happier person. I think, as a result.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  13:18

Listening to your story, I feel there’s a lot of singers that would be in your situation of that losing the joy of singing, because essentially a lot of the training that not all singers have, but specially the majority of classical voice, singers, they go into a lesson and they’re picked apart with everything that’s wrong with their voices, rather than what’s working well for them. It’s like going to a ballet lesson, that classical training, it’s to tear apart everything that’s wrong, and not focus on the things that are doing well. And I mean, that joy would be beaten out of you. So I’m not surprised you got to that point. So Mark, let’s hear your story. And we’ll circle back to some of this.

Mark Moliterno  14:13

I was singing professionally back in the 80s 1980. So last century,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:20

join the club.

Mark Moliterno  14:24

And I had a gig at at a summer festival in Banff, Canada. And I had an experience with a yoga class. And I thought this is amazing. And I want to do this for the rest of my life. And then when I got back to Los Angeles, where I was living at the time, I looked up a teacher and I found a teacher and I started taking yoga classes and I was blown away I just knew in my body I knew in my body in my mind and that it was something that I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. And I knew it because it touched something in me It awakens something in me that I felt very specifically, had been lying dormant. And I couldn’t really put my finger on it at the time. But I knew it made sense. I just knew it made sense. So yeah, I started practicing yoga. And then as I was singing, I would have opportunities to teach yoga to people who wanted me to teach them, but I wasn’t a yoga teacher. So people were sort of gravitating toward me to teach them how to do yoga. But I said, I don’t teach, but you can come practice with me. So over time, enough, people wanted to learn what I was doing that I decided I should get some yoga training, and so become a yoga teacher. And I did that. And then these two pieces started to fit together this this life in singing and music and, and his life in yoga. And I started to recognize that I was able to experience in my own body when yoga was supportive. And when I would do a yoga practice, say, in the afternoon and have a performance in the evening, I recognize that my body felt a certain way. And my voice felt a certain way. And I had a certain clarity of

Mark Moliterno  16:04


Mark Moliterno  16:06

And when I didn’t, I recognize something was different. And then I started to be able to hear in other people’s singing, I started to be able to notice when I heard I would hear a colleague or a singer that I knew was very career driven. And there would be a certain sound in their voice. And I could then also be able to hear in a different singer, who was very sort of motivated by self expression and honesty and truthfulness in the music making, I could hear a different quality in their voice. And so I began to surmise that if enough people could find their way to yoga in the singing industry, it could literally change the way the industry, it makes music. Yeah. And so it was a very big picture. Yeah, I really recognize that yoga has the ability to do that yoga has the, the the, the whole project of yoga is to become more self-aware and to become truer to who you are. So if singers can learn the principles of yoga, and literally practice them, then in fact, it will affect the way their voices are used. That was the basic premise. So then we discover started working on some of these details with the chakra system, and understanding that the energetic sources that are in your body already, and this is why Kristin says, you know, our one of our principles is that it’s already within you. There’s nothing broken, it’s already there, that we began to recognize how those actually interfaced with elements of systematic voice technique that I learned from my teacher, Richard Miller, at the Oberlin Conservatory. And so I had this very strong background and vocal pedagogy, which was, you know, science based. And then I had this information from yoga, and I started to see how the two things meshed and how they met. And I just began practicing it and teaching it and developed a way of expressing it and sharing it with other people that eventually became the bedrock for what Kristin and I have developed together. So that’s the sort of short story.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:11

Okay, now, I love the fact that you mentioned Richard Miller, because we talked about this a couple of weeks ago. And I mean, Richard Miller is a very highly acclaimed pedagogue. So there are a lot of people that have moved away from some of the ideas that he had, and don’t actually necessarily believe that this is what happens. But nearly all of us have read the structure of singing. We’re very well acquainted with Richard Miller. So how does how did his teachings impact your pedagogy? And has

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:56

his teaching

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:58

influenced the way that you structured the program

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  19:02

that you’ve created?

Mark Moliterno  19:04

Yeah, so I studied with Richard Miller from 1978 to 83. And those were the years that he was simply teaching and the structure of singing was published in 1986. So he was writing it while he while I was studying with him, right. And he was also beginning to work with the the the vocal laboratory instruments. And so I was one of the first people that were willing, who actually sang an aria with a larger scope down his nose. Oh, my God, I was able to watch it on the I was able to watch it on the television monitor. I say nonfuel Andre, and everyone was like, you know, and we were all just mesmerized by the dance of the vocal cords. Yeah, it was quite amazing. Yeah. So so but in that day, in those days, Miller taught from the perspective of someone who had studied Belcanto methodology in Italy, with Ricci and Belcanto masters. And so his teaching was is all about the most efficient way. And the most healthy way to use the voice which he believed came from the Belcanto tradition.

Mark Moliterno  20:08

The Belcanto tradition

Mark Moliterno  20:11

is a is a beautiful form of combined energies and combined differences. So in other words, hallmarks of Belcanto are chiaroscuro, light and dark. Yes of Pajot, the balance of inhalation and exhalation forces, you know registration that includes a balance of chest and head voice, the idea of legato singing, always having a bit of agility or spin in it and agility and coloratura always having an underlying or undergirding of legato. So it’s always about combining these opposing forces or things that seem like opposing forces, in one vocal gesture, or one idea, which is an REO. I

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:53

love how you describe that. I just had to say that keep going.

Mark Moliterno  20:58

So I’ve always believed that Miller was teaching yoga in his way, because that’s what yoga is yoga means to combine things to, to yoke things together. And the things you yoke together are things that seem like they’ve separated, or that are opposite. Or so like, we might say that we’re combining body and mind, or, you know, the steadiness and, and, and ease or strength and flexibility, all those different things. So yoga is this combining.

Mark Moliterno  21:30

And so

Mark Moliterno  21:33

I started to make that observation. And if so, I had this background and the background I had was scientific, but it was also pedagogical. And it just made sense to me when I started putting it together with yoga, how those two things met. And so, um, yes, the the work that Richard Miller did is the sort of backbone of what we do vocally, in YogaVoice because it is, as he would say, the way to functional efficiency in the voice. And so what we want to do is make sure that we are doing what is anatomically correct, or healthy or well balanced in a way that is most efficient. Now, we recognize that that is not the only way to sing. But we do recognize that that it is a it is based in anatomical fact. And so that’s what makes it not woowoo. And it is based in what is functionally efficient. And we know it is functionally efficient, because in the Belcanto in the repertoire to sing that repertoire, well, you had to be functionally efficient. And so the pedagogy grew out of the necessity to sing the music that the composers were writing that have all these demands of these combined sort of forces.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  22:57

Do you think that Richard Miller would approve of work, the work that you’re doing? Would he endorse yoga voice?

Mark Moliterno  23:04

I like to think that he would be very interested in it. And I do think he would be supportive? Yes, he and I always had a good relationship. So I think he would be very supportive. Yes. And if you saw things in it that he didn’t agree with, I’m sure he would tell me. But I don’t think that I don’t think that we would be at the point, I think I think he would be supportive. And as especially as I give credit, where credit is due to his work, I think it would be interesting to him to see how another generation has built on it.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  23:31

It sounds like you’ve taken this to another level, you’ve got the work of Richard Miller, and Kristin, feel free to chime in here. But this has become a lot

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  23:45

more holistic. You’ve taken

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  23:48

all aspects of the singer, you’ve got the spiritual, the emotional, the physical, all working together. So it’s a far more holistic approach than what say the structure of singing was or the work of Richard Miller.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  24:04

And what do you say to people?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  24:08

Okay, when we talk about yoga, we’re talking about spirituality as well. Because yoga, there’s there’s a lot of preconceptions about yoga, and a lot of misconceptions about yoga, where people think it is a spiritual or woowoo or religious practice. So how do you respond to those those sorts of claims?

Mark Moliterno  24:35

Yeah, so I had someone you know, I was in a part of the state and the country where where we might call a part of the Bible Belt. And we might say that, that there’s a certain sometimes people of certain faiths have difficulty with the idea of yoga because they think it’s a they think it is a spiritual practice that’s counter to what they what they believe. Yes. And we honor all people in what they believe And and the question was, you know, what do you say to someone who says this is not in my faith tradition? And how can I make this? How can I accept this if it’s not part of what I think is important in my faith life, and if it is a spiritual practice. And what I answered is that yoga makes you more authentic in who you are. That is really what yoga is, you can certainly look at yoga from a in an historical context as a religious idea from Hinduism, you can also look at it in terms of as a technology, which is how we view it, yoga is a technology that if you do certain practices, which is like the software and you install it in the hardware, which is your body mind, then in fact, certain things will happen. And you will become more. So the idea in yoga, the yoga sutra, which is one of the primary source documents of yoga says that yoga is the calming of your fluctuations of your consciousness. So that you can begin to see who you are, love it. And so Yoga is not to it’s, it’s, it’s this whole concept of we’re not taking anything and putting it on, right, that makes us a Hindu, or a Christian or a Jew or whatever. It’s not that we’re taking something and putting it on. In fact, what yoga does is it peels away, the things that hide the true nature of your own self. If you are a Christian, you will become a more authentic person by doing yoga, so you will your Christian faith will develop and deepen. If you are, if you’re any religious faith, we can say the same thing because yoga is non in the way we teach it as a technology, it is non theistic, it’s non dogmatic. It’s not based in a religious belief. It’s based on a technology of finding authenticity and self awareness.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  26:55

Yes, I just want to say

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  26:58

right here that I don’t practice yo does. So for the people that are listening, who are thinking, Oh, I’ve got these two, one, because I’m a big yogi. And I want everyone to go out there and start doing yoga, I don’t practice

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:13

yoga. However, I am open to

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:20

finding and discovering new gateways and modalities to help my students, if I feel there is merit in something, I have an open mind. And what I’m hearing from you guys is making a whole lot of sense. And I think that as a teaching community, we all need to receive information with an open mind and an open heart, we need to get out of our own ways and our own limiting beliefs.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  27:52

And listen to what else is out there. Just,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:00

you know, broaden your horizons people, I’m not saying this is the be all and end all. But this perhaps may be another gateway. So I hope that people are receiving this information in a way that, you know, there could be something in this and I want to listen to this a little bit more and find out more about it. So that’s where I’m coming at this from, it’s not about me, being a yogi, and, and a Hindu or a Buddhist, or whatever you want to call it. It is about another thing, that maybe if I learn a little bit more about this, it can help my students, it can help me get out of my own way,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:44

as well. Right. And I think this is where,

Mark Moliterno  28:47

you know, our technology is useful because it’s we don’t talk about those things in the voice lesson. So if it touches you spiritually, it’s because it touches something that you believe and you might believe that in the music, you know, it’s not so much that we’re trying to create any spiritual, you know, enlightenment, what we’re trying to do is really do it just what you said is help people access what is already there in themselves, in their voices person, did you want to did you want to jump in?

Kristin Roney  29:18

Yes, actually, I had two things. First, regarding yoga voice. So Yoga is a term that people use very freely, but there are very many different schools of yoga and types of yoga. There are there are Yoga does not mean just postures or just a spiritual practice and depending on the type of yoga that speaks to you, you can have a variation of different types of practices and philosophies. And in yoga voice we it’s a we use multiple different disciplines. So it’s not just one way of looking at yoga, which I think is important to remember. And yes, yes. And then the other thing I wanted to say was when I mark was speaking to how Richard Miller has in Richard Miller’s teachings are part of what YogaVoice grew out of. And this functionally efficient singing along with that we’re very interested in YogaVoice in choices. And when Mark said, you know, this isn’t the only way to do something, right? That’s not the only way to sing. Clearly, there are so many different genres and styles. And I believe you yourself are from a contemporary background, correct?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  30:48

100%. Yeah,

Kristin Roney  30:50

yeah. Okay. So.

Kristin Roney  30:52

So, for example, sometimes people think that yoga voices just, in terms of singing is just for classical western classical style singers. And it absolutely is not. Because for example, if you think about an onset, there are different types of onsets. And when you practice yoga voice, what you’re doing is your awakening your awareness to how to coordinate all of those types of onsets so that you have choices. So perhaps you have someone who is singing a pop song and wants a more aspirated onset, then that can be a choice. we’re interesting in choices, not one way to do everything. Yeah. So and that is out of Richard Miller’s teachings and that there are these different types of onsets. Not that one is better than another. Yeah, but that it can be a choice. Yes.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:46

And in CCM, we use different types of onsets as a choice to portray a specific emotion. Right? Essentially, it’s a stylistic and an emotional choice. Okay, so we’ve talked about people, and spiritual and religious practices, so people who are worried about that, okay, let’s see, I’m trying to make this inclusive here. Okay, we’ve, we’ve made it inclusive to style. Thank you Kristin. We’ve talked about CCM, and classical. So everybody doesn’t matter what type of music you’re singing. Now, let’s address the people who think that you can’t do this particular work, because they are not fit. And they’re not flexible. And there’s no way I could do a yoga pose. Let’s address those people. So now that we’ve cleared all those misconceptions, everyone will go, okay, I can

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:49

listen, now it’s safe. Okay.

Kristin Roney  32:54

Well, we’ve worked with people who, who have lots of different needs. And one of the things I really love personally about yoga voice is that you can modify everything, everything in anything. And that’s necessary, because everybody’s body is different and one size does not fit all. So yoga. Depending on the type of yoga, you practice, right, we are talking about different schools of thought has different demands, and but the whole point of yoga voice is that is to meet the need of the individual. So if it does not meet a person’s need, then it is not useful. So we’re all about finding ease, and steadiness and comfort in the practice for that individual. So if that means that they need to be seated in a chair, instead of standing, then that’s what we’re going to do. If someone has issues with blood pressure, then we’re going to shift postures a certain way so that they’re more accommodating. Mark, do you have anything you want to add to that?

Mark Moliterno  34:03

Yeah. So I think what makes yoga voice unique, and now we’re talking about some are going to talk to a little bit of a different point of view on this is that we it’s not just about your body, it’s not just about what you’re capable of physically. We I made reference earlier to the idea that within your body mind are these seven energetic centers called the chakras and the chakras are there for everybody. Whether you are, you know, disabled or less abled, or differently abled, everyone has the chakras, and everyone has the sources for voice in them. And so, what we do is we look at the singer from the point of view of energy, we view that the voice as an energetic instrument that manifests through a physical mechanism, but we listen and we teach to the energy in the person and the end the holistic nature of, of what that person has within them. And we do that by listening critically, as though we’re listening pedagogically. Right, right. So we listen, we listen to the sound, we understand what is our components of functionally efficient singing in and I use that term again to describe anatomical truth, shall we say, yes. But then we look at how the energy, how the voice is either manifesting, and then we can identify where the energy is balanced or imbalanced. And that’s how we do it. So if a person is sitting in a chair, they can use their seven chakras, the person is lying down, they can use their seven chakras, if they’re standing up, they can use their seven, if they’re standing on their heads, it doesn’t matter. Yep, they can do anything. Okay? Because and that’s why we say it’s for everybody.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:53

Okay, let’s break this down even further. So now we’re getting into what you actually do what

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:00

someone is, as a client

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:03

is likely to experience within a lesson, which is, I think, what we all want to hear now. And first up, this is, is this a method? Well, it sounds like it’s a methodology, but it’s not your typical methodology, because it’s student

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:18

or client centered, so that you’re

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:23

dealing with the person in front of you. Whereas a methodology typically is something where week one, this is what you do week two, so it’s not prescribed.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:34

It’s more, it’s open to

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:37

the person, you are dealing with that person in front of you, in that moment in time.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:44

That’s what we train our teachers to do. Yes, right.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:47

Okay, so I’ve come to you, for the first time. And

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  36:54

like most of us, we do an assessment. Thus, teachers, we do some kind of diagnostic thing with our students where we want to see what’s going on with their bodies with their voices.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:05

And do you then do you listen to them critically, and observe them?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  37:16

First, and then make an assessment as to which chakra needs to be cleansed or cleared or addressed? I’m not sure what the right terminology is? Or do you kind of tap into the chakras and then go, they’re stuck in that part of their voice?

Mark Moliterno  37:36

Can I can I start Kristin, and then you jump in? Yep. So the very first thing we do when someone walks in the room is we sit them down, and they breathe, we don’t have them sing right away, we do what we call, we have this practice called meeting the mood. And so we observe how they’re breathing, we have specific breathing practices, we ask them to do simple, very simple, breathe in for five, react for five,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  38:00

you know, presumably, that we can all do that,

Mark Moliterno  38:03

we can all do that. But in that if you are trained to know what to look for, and this comes from, from our yoga therapy background to, you begin to recognize patterns in breathing, and patterns and breathing will tell you a lot about where the student is in the moment. So, you know, typically we have people walk in the door from their lives, and we don’t know what they’re bringing in with them. And we don’t know where they’re going and their rent, you know, so they’re already in a certain place. So you begin to you begin by meeting, the mood of somebody is down, you meet it there and then elevated through breathing. If someone is very upregulated, you meet it there and then bring it back to bring it down towards center. So you find where they are. And then we have a program which we call not a program, but a practice, which we call elemental toning. And that helps us also connect and and assess where things are. But it’s also a tool for beginning to work with the with the elements. So Chris, why don’t you tell him about elemental Tony?

Kristin Roney  39:04

Well, I wanted to say first that you said Do you listen this way? Or do you listen that way? We definitely do not listen critically, because that would be listening for faults, or what we would think is a fault,

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:18

which is what we do, though, is like the average voice teacher, that’s what we’re doing is it’s like the mechanic that’s looking under the bonnet of the car. We’re being trained

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:29

to look for faults.

Mark Moliterno  39:33

And when I say critically, I don’t mean fault finding. I mean, listening with an objective here.

Kristin Roney  39:40

I didn’t hear you say critically. I said critically.

Kristin Roney  39:44

Yeah, yeah. And I know what you meant, like diagnostic and because it especially in graduate schools, right. You’re taught to diagnose and to think critically about what you hear But the the person is not clinical like and they have so many different facets to, to a human being right if you’re actually talking about meeting a person holistically and offering them tools holistically then

Kristin Roney  40:23

can’t really be critical.

Kristin Roney  40:26

So I would say we listen, we listen with generous compassion.

Kristin Roney  40:30

And we’re observing.

Kristin Roney  40:35

And then we are holding out information. And what that individual chooses to do with that is their own prerogative. And when Mark is talking about elemental toning, what we’re doing is we’re taking the element of a chakra, and a chakra, I think it’s important to define what chakras are because people might not know what those are. So chakra is Sanskrit for wheel. And so if anyone’s ever seen an image or silhouette of the human body with like, these rainbow, yeah, glowy a bit, right, those would be chakras, but chakras in our sense, our conceptual model for organizing sensations in the body. And if you were to look on an MRI or an x ray, you wouldn’t ever find a chakra. But if you look at chakras in terms of philosophically, where they’re located, what’s associated with them? There are nerve plexuses actually, each of those points and so there is some research now into what those ancient philosophers were really tapping into, which were nerve plexuses that are associated with each of those points in the body. Can you name

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  41:48

the seven chakras in case people don’t know what they are? Where those points are?

Kristin Roney  41:55

A Yes. So you have your root chakra, and these all have Sanskrit names, too, but I’m not going to do that right now. So yes, okay. So there’s root chakra, and that’s the area from the perineum or the base of the pelvic floor down to the soles of the feet. And then you have the second chakra, that is the sacral chakra, that’s the area of below the navel in the pelvis, the pelvic bowl, if you will, and then you have third chakra. And that is, I keep wanting to call it what we call it, which is our identity center.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  42:33

Solar Plexus. Solar Plexus. Solar Plexus. Yeah,

Kristin Roney  42:38

correct. So your solar plexus. Uh huh. And that’s the epigastric area. Then you have your heart chakra, which is Heart Center, on the body in the middle of the chest. And then you have your throat chakra, which is here. And it’s they have fronts and backs. It’s not just like it sits on the front of your body. It’s because it’s internally like along the spine. And then you have sixth chakra, which is people sometimes called the third eye, like here, and then you have your crown chakra, which is at the crown of your head.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  43:12

Yeah, and each of these represent something like they all have a different energy force a different emotion. A different they have different attributes

Kristin Roney  43:23

assigned to them. Yes. Okay. Right. Yes. And so for example, when Mark was talking about elemental Toning as a way to start to interface with these energies in your that are already in your body. And this is just turning our awareness towards them so that you can then leverage your awareness of that to however you see fit. So let’s use first chakra for example. So first chakra, your root chakra, the element is Earth. And then the elemental tone that we use in yoga voice is a grunt. So what we’re doing is we’re taking sounds that human beings make because they’re human beings. So a grunt, a howl. Laughter. And we’re figuring we figured out from our perspective, which of these like innate sounds that you make as a human being would correspond to which element we’re talking about, right? So for Earth, we use a grunt, because a Grunt is a very like, primal sound. It has a very clear initiation and ending of sound which you could like into an onset, which is what we associate with first chakra. And so when we talk about invoking the energies of that part of your body, we’re talking about using this grunt and using it to cultivate the stability the presence that is already housed in your sound, and making sure you’re aware of it. And that you can find it Mark, do you have anything you want to add to that?

Mark Moliterno  45:11

I think that’s right. So, so each of these so each of these chakras are associated with different body mind elements. So and you’re right there’s a psychology psychological side to it, there’s a physical side to it. But again, we say we we tune into them as where we sense via sensation in our body, where are the sensation patterns in our body, and then the, the yoga voice pieces that we associate the vocal element with the chakra element, so Earth is becomes an onset, water becomes the flow of breath that creates registration, the fire in the third chakra is becomes agility. In singing the air and fourth chakra becomes sostenuto, and dynamic contrast, the space and fifth chakra becomes resonance balancing and articulation, freedom, the you know, all of the elements are combined in the brain. So that’s the focus center, that’s the ability to concentrate and have a single point of focus and not be distracted by all the different things you’re trying to do. And then the seventh chakra is your inspiration center. So that’s where we find inspiration, music making. So all of those things are in Miller, but we’ve st we’ve brought them into your body. And I do want to say one of the thing about Miller too, is that we think about him as a mechanist. And he always made the distinction between mechanist and whole lists, in terms of pedagogues and teaching. But in my experience with him, he was sort of a both end he was heavily mechanistic, because he believed that anatomically specific language reduced the possibility of misinterpretation. And that when so if you say to somebody, we need more space, in the pharynx, that can be interpreted different ways. And I’ve had the experience where people depress their tongue to create space, right, which is another is another imbalance. But if you say to them, the soft palate is here and you want to raise the soft palate, the soft palate needs to be raised. And the laryngeal posture lowers when the soft palate raises that specific language. So that’s what he called mechanism. But he always drew it back to the song and to what you’re trying to do in the music and how to express the music. And that the artistry is the is the the the technician is the servant of the artist.

Mark Moliterno  47:43

And not the other way around. Wow.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  47:45

I would not have known that of Miller.

Mark Moliterno  47:48

Yeah, well that no one does because they all they do is read the books. Yes, but but but that was his that was really what he was trying to accomplish.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  47:57

It’s a shame because it’s almost like he’s been misunderstood. Aren’t we all.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  48:08

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it, as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth, and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow, so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway? Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of a voice and beyond.