Vennard & Lindquest

Lindquest & JonesDuring the summer of 1979, I had the life-altering experience of studying with the great voice teacher, Alan Lindquest, in Santa Barbara, California. It was then that he began to verbalize his work with vocal pedagogue William Vennard. In 1993, I located Ms. Martha Lindquest (Lindquest's widow) and she clarified the exact time and place that Lindquest and Vennard connected.

It was during the year of 1955 that William Vennard asked to sit in Lindquest's voice studio and study his teaching. This led to Vennard actually having lessons with Lindquest. Both men were members of the elite group called the American Academy of Teachers of Singing. In order to be a member, one had to be a published researcher, which both men were. The primary focus of the work between the two was on the "balancing of the registers", a concept which was widely acclaimed except by a few who did not believe in registers. This work was the basis of creating some spectacular singers. Lindquest's primary group of professional singers was in Europe, and many are still singing in that area of the world. Of course, Vennard's most famous student is the noted mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne.

In 1967, Vennard published his book, Singing; the Mechanism and the Technique. Included in the book is an exercise which he studied with Lindquest, the cuperto exercise in the single-octave version. This exercise is the basis of the blending of the registers and it is one on which I focus with great concentration in my teaching. When a singer can accomplish this exercise, the voice sounds like "one voice". Lindquest used the two-octave version to separate the registers totally and then to blend them from the high range downward. The result is amazing; the singer no longer has "breaks" in the voice, but rather has a smooth transition from register to register, creating the impression of "one voice".

It is important to note that the original source of the cuperto exercise was Manuel Garcia, and it was later taught by Flagstad's teacher, Dr. Gillis Bratt. This kind of work is responsible for helping to create some of the greatest singers of the century. Set Svanholm, Birgit Nilsson, Karin Branzell, Jussi Bjoerling, Birgitta Svenden, and of course, Flagstad, were singers who pursued these concepts.

Alan Lindquest made it his life work to instruct singers and teachers in this Old World technique, which really goes back to the Garcia training. Many of the vocal exercises used by Lindquest were originally designed by Garcia himself. Many however, were not published in Garcia's book.