The history of VoiceGym, as told by Angela Caine:
"VoiceGym was borne out of the need for physical exercise in the development and training of the voice.
Nowhere in my musical training had exercise been mentioned and I gained a diploma in the teaching of singing at aged 23 (I could have taken it at the end of my training at 21) without ever opening an anatomy book.
I learned all the answers from books on singing, where anatomy diagrams illustrated only those surrounding structures considered by the author to be relevant. There was no cross reference to any other physical discipline. No books other than those on singing or music repertoire were recommended as part of my course.
When I began to have voice problems I could only concentrate on trying to solve running out of breath, singing out of tune, missing entries and being generally unrhythmic, but eventually, many years later, I realised these were only symptoms. The causes were in the imbalance in the rest of me, not in my voice itself.
Having realised the importance of connecting voice and body together and developed some exercises to bring it about I felt I knew the answers to good voice training so I wrote my first book about it - The Voice Workbook, published by Hodder and Stoughton - and added a tape of the exercises I had developed.
In 1991 I realised I needed to teach singing in a gym where people could move, and so I set about discovering what equipment was necessary to aid singing and not merely provide a distraction. I wanted singers to have reference for those parts of themselves they were using to sing so that they knew which muscles to strengthen. The first major singing tools I discovered were the physio ball, or Swiss ball and the climbing frame. The first permanent "Voice Gymnasium" opened in Havill Hall, Camberwell, South London, in 1991.
But this was to be only the beginning of developing the real work. The answers to the voice problems only began to be discovered as a result of working voice and body together. By 1994 the Voice Gym had moved to the Voice and Body Centre in Southampton, and my research on voice had extended to dysfluency, early development, tongue position, cranial therapy and pelvic stability. Voice Gym as it is today had begun to emerge.
The present Voice Gym has developed over the last fifteen years into a complete voice and body diagnosis and exercise system that is now used extensively for the development and maintenance of professional voices.
It has been refined so that you do not need to build a climbing frame in your garden, but whole body stretch is managed by a stretchband and a balance board, although the indispensible physio ball is still part of the kit (and if you can have a climbing frame as well, that would be marvellous).
A text book, the VoiceGym Book, which will be regularly revised - to keep it up to date.has been added to provide background information and references. The second edition has just been printed.
This work opened a field of research hitherto totally ignored by voice therapists and singing teachers. The results have enabled me to introduce singers, actors, teachers and other professional voice users to the dangers of ignoring functional anatomy, dentistry and skeletal misalignment.
I have now established a multidisciplinary network, involving cranial chiropractors, osteopaths and dentists who are voice–aware. Singers and other professional voice users can now find answers to, and support for, problems they encounter along the way without the immediate panic of 'am I losing my performance ability?".
VoiceGym has expanded to include Early VoiceGym and other teachers are now training in both to make them available over a national network. Within the next five years there will be a teacher near to you who can provide the VoiceGym pack and also teach you how to use it."
The cartoon above is from a feature in TimeOut, from April 1984, on the voice workshops Angela ran, while teaching voice on Alexander Technique courses
in London and Kendal.
She now applies the principles
of good use, as promoted by Alexander himself, but only
within a more interactive system of training based on up-to-date information about functional mechanics.
Angela's first Voice Gym in Camberwell, described in the
Daily Mail on 30th June 1992
(see below), featuring balance boards, exercise balls and
a climbing frame.