Vocal Tai Chi
Moving Voice Between Heaven and Earth
Tai Chi provides many safe harbours for the body and the mind, especially if you are working with voice.
Vocal Tai Chi helps you both expand and deeply relax into your voice, as if it were the very ground of your being, from where you may follow your own internal threads on a musical journey of your own making.
Finding out that your voice is a mirror of who you really are, begins the journey of using voice for personal and spiritual development – using vocal improvisation with (or without) reference to drone as the starting point.
Employing a simple voice map, you begin your Vocal Tai Chi path, letting go of the judgements and standards of right and wrong voice and remembering what matters is that your vocal instrument is an honest, vulnerable, and courageous vehicle, and that is at the heart of who you are.
We begin a conversation around how your voice is a window into layer upon layer of the self, learning the four floors of your vocal house – the basement, ground floor, mezzanine, and attic, we map out a vertical range and then begin to journey – supported by a variety of canvasses including live improvised music, backing tracks, looping and a cappella group sound.
(Image by Barbara McFarlane, from Risk and Share live event 16.07.2023)
There is a way of listening to the sound of a voice that can be read freshly, rather like a subtle poem can be slowly understood. There is so much nuance and information in the timbres, range and agility of the voice through wordless improvisations, this can be interpreted, rather like revealing the underlying meanings in a piece of poetry.
How to recognise and dialogue with these subtle qualities of tone is perhaps at the heart of the VTC practice.
There are many, many, voices within all of us, an infinity is not too small a number, and in Vocal Tai Chi this infinity of voices is invited to sing, to improvise the music that is who you are, now. It is not likely to be a virtuosic solo cadenza or a whipper-snapper scat around the keys (though it may be) but it is more likely to be something not predetermined, not formed by convention, but arising out of inner inquiry, intention and impulse.
Mixing meditative and creative processes, Vocal Tai Chi offers a new, individually tailored language of expression, – sourced from the parts of you that need and wish to be heard. These parts may arise of their own volition or they may have been hidden for a long time and need careful excavation. In so singing freely, improvising, at this level, Vocal Tai Chi can bring a new completeness to you, and to others listening.
Feeding your energy and imagination, Vocal Tai Chi helps with performance nerves, expressive authenticity, and creative aliveness as well as more generally with your health and well-being.
“Jenni is a masterful guide in the arena of finding and accessing authenticity in singing. Here we have a true, true teacher who has managed to marry together spiritual practice and music in a way that is rich and real. She is humble and yet deeply comfortable in her power and presence. The sessions feel held and also comfortable. This work is what I feel I have been looking for, for a long time and didn’t know existed. It’s very exciting to have stumbled across Jenni and her ground-breaking work.”
CH, September 2020. Participant in VTC solos online sessions.
A bit of background about Vocal Tai Chi
I began Tai Chi in my early twenties and learned the short form Yang style. An early piece of supported vocal research was spending time with the gypsy performers of the Cumbre Flamenco troupe in Madrid and Seville and receiving singing lessons in the Cante Hondo style. I have also connected instinctively with my father’s heritage in the Sephardic vocal vein.
For three years before I launched Vocal Tai Chi I was experimenting with improvised singing, calling on my studies in North Indian vocal ragas. I wanted to find a way, a language, a style in which to sing, while meditating.
A friend who was with me, while I was experimenting, said one day – “- it looks like a vocal form of Tai Chi.” I was drawing on Tai Chi movements as I sang. Vocal Tai Chi as a title seemed to encapsulate the essence of what I was searching for.
Vocal Tai Chi suggests a slow, flowing body, maybe with long, steady notes and graceful movements. But Tai Chi itself is also dynamic and interactive. Masters of Tai Chi can activate body trauma release by skilfully using life-force energy, known as ‘chi,’ waking up the whole body-mind-spirit system, at a fundamental level and allowing the person to reorganise their psyche as entrenched patterns let go.
Having been a Therapeutic Voice Worker for many years, (trained in Voice Movement Therapy with Paul Newham in 1992) I could see a parallel with my experience in this field, and the trauma release work in advanced Tai Chi.
Vocal Tai Chi however is different from my previous, white-coated, hands-off, therapist’s role, as I am now present as artist-leader and performer, singing my own Vocal Tai Chi as a way of igniting people into the work. My therapeutic leadership has lessened, away from psychology and towards spirituality, although the two are very close.
Founded in 2012
Vocal Tai Chi was founded by composer-vocalist Jenni Roditi in 2012. Vocal Tai Chi is a voice, movement, mind, body, soulful and spiritual practice. Rooted in the Tai Chi principles of grounding, centring, flow and openness, alongside the musical art of both free and guided vocal improvisation and, as an advanced development, conduction-style composition.
Jenni welcome musicians from all styles and levels, and so-called non musicians: you just need willingness, and belief that using your voice in service of your current inquiry could well be the missing key to reveal vital new understanding and information.
What is more close to you than your voice?
2.10.21 – updated 8.3.22.
“A fantastic blend of attention to the group process as well as our individual development. Insightful and intuitive understanding of what each of us and the group needed. I found a strength of being and confidence in my creativity that I didn’t know I had. Thank you.” Kate A, participant, Winter School, 2015.