What a wonderful experience! I had taken singing lessons with Marcela before, but now she has a new and better tool that totally blew my mind.
How I came to be in Eindhoven watching Marcela Bovio become a Universal Voice Teacher.
When I saw Marcela‘s Facebook-post on Thursday evening, saying that she had three spots open for a workshop in Eindhoven, I hesitated for a second, looked up the prices for last-minute train-tickets to Eindhoven and immediately commented that I wanted to go. An opportunity like this doesn’t come very often: a free workshop held by a singer I admire about a singing technique she deems “revolutionary”.
“This method, I’m really, really convinced that it’s going to revolutionize the world of singing. […] seriously, it’s going to be revolutionary, because it’s so simple and so effective.” – Marcela Bovio about the Universal Voice System on episode number 18 of the Metal & High Heels Podcast.
Less than 48 hours after I commented her post, I was on a bus to The Netherlands – that Saturday I spent about eight hours traveling to Eindhoven and back, but it was absolutely worth it. I arrived at Dynamo (the cool music venue we know from Female Metal Event) and was later joined by the six other “students” of the day, among them SCARLET STORIES-singer Lissette van den Berg and DELAIN- and MAYAN-guitarist Merel Bechtold. The most important attendee, however, was Universal Voice Institute director and the founder and inventor of the method, Alberto ter Doest, who also functioned as the examiner, who decides if Marcela graduates as a Universal Voice Teacher. Spoilers: she did more than great and Alberto seemed very happy about it.
The three hours of the workshop were full of fascinating information that left us wanting to know more. Marcela presented the contents of the Universal Voice System in an easy and understandable way. And that’s the game-changer! The main principle of the Universal Voice System is making singing easy and accessible to everyone, as method-creator Alberto said himself. And when talking about specific elements of the singing technique, it was mind-blowing how both teachers busted the myths I myself had believed for so long.
How I became a singer before that.
To give you some context, I started taking singing lessons when I was 14 as a summer activity. I had been singing since I was a kid and I had taken some piano lessons but then I decided I wanted to learn to sing “correctly”. My dad suggested classical singing as the most “correct” method, and that’s the “school” I started to follow. I had a great teacher and kept going on the weekends after that summer was over, but although it was a lot of fun, it was also demanding. If you have had “classical singing lessons” you know what I’m talking about – it’s multi-tasking at its best: you focus on pitch and breathing correctly and opening up as if you were yawning, and over-pronouncing the words and don’t you dare to tense up!
The years passed and I took lessons with several other teachers, some better than others, but those guidelines stayed the same. Sometimes a teacher would say one thing that clicked in my head and changed everything – like when I took one lesson with Floor Jansen and she told me to also use the muscles of my back for better breath support and I was positively baffled. But the whole operatic style remained quite a feat.
For over a year starting in 2011, I even worked as a singing teacher myself, which taught me a lot and gave me a different perspective. At a music school in Dortmund, I taught several teenagers, as well as a few adults. They were mostly beginners, so I felt confident in my teaching duty and enjoyed seeing them get better over time. But I also saw these singers struggle with the multi-tasking and the “rules of singing”, as I did.
How I now also believe in the Universal Voice System.
Lately, I have been trying to sing with less effort and experiment with other styles, so Marcela‘s workshop was a gift of the gods. It not only made me realize that there are no strict “rules of correct singing” per se, it also opened my mind about what I thought was “correct singing”. I used to be very judgemental about “uneducated” vocalists and now I think that as long as you aren’t hurting yourself while singing, everybody should be able to find their own path. And this method really seems to be the easiest way.
Whether you want to belt, sing opera, growl, scream or do anything else with your voice, this learning method has got your back. We actually learned basic growling in a matter of minutes. Lissette van den Berg tried out some screaming, as in Death Metal screaming – and it was fantastic!
Sadly, the book and the lessons are only available in Dutch at the moment, since the Universal Voice Institute is based in Amsterdam. But be sure, that as soon as the translations are ready, and/or Marcela Bovio starts teaching the Universal Voice System officially, I’ll be the first to sign up. And if you’re a singer, you should look into it, too.
Are you a vocalist or interested in learning? Share this article and tell us about your experience in the comments!