The polyvagal theory in functional voice training

A 5-part online training

The polyvagal theory sounds very technical and complicated at first. It is about the autonomic nervous system, which determines our lives like an autopilot.

If singers tell that they do not get access to their vocal potential or have the feeling to sing against glass walls, then the autonomic nervous system is responsible for it. Likewise for performance anxiety and the feeling of not having access to one’s voice. 

With the knowledge of what polyvagal theory even is and how we can regulate our autonomic nervous system, quite a few problems can be solved at once. Not only do we learn our singing and speaking in a natural way, thus returning to healthy vocal function, we also regulate the autonomic nervous system with it. The regulation starts at the body, because there is our experience space, which formed our autonomic nervous system in the first years of life.

In competitive sports, we are now beginning to use this knowledge, because competitive athletes not only have to perform at their best, they are also exposed to great stress. So it is with professional singers or professional musicians, who have to deliver incredible performances and experience stress of all kinds. In addition, the professional conditions of artists are difficult, especially in the current time of crisis, and it is not easy to look to the future with relaxation and confidence. Many freelance artists are threatened with their existence. When conditions improve again, the shock still sits deep in the whole body system. 

In this advanced training, we focus on controlling our voice or larynx. Although there are singing schools that claim that the larynx is not controllable, therefore does not seem to be influenced at will. When we train the muscles of vocal function and they work in coordination with each other and there is an interplay between the muscle systems and the vowels, we not only learn a natural and healthy vocal function, we also regulate our autonomic nervous system with it. In addition, there is functional LISTENING. This has to do with reclaiming self-empowerment. This requires anatomical knowledge of the muscular culture of vocalization and its nerve supply. This means that with this knowledge we also regain control over our voice and larynx, just as we regain control over our lives when we regulate our autonomic nervous system. This not only has an impact on our singing and speaking, that thus happens with less effort and pressure, it also has an impact on our psyche, which primarily affects our voice. 

Mrs. Hammermeister not only researched the effects of first contact and bonding experiences on our voice, but also about the parallel organs of the vocal apparatus and the female / male sex organ (pelvic floor). Thus, there are also parallel muscle systems between the throat and larynx muscles and the psoas muscle and pelvic floor muscles. The psoas muscle is also called the trauma muscle. In addition, there is the work with reflexes, which can release suppressed life force.

The first contact and bonding experiences form not only the autonomic nervous system, but also the voice. Thus, certain muscles react to it with compensations, which can lead to voice problems.

An individual authentic sound is only possible when the musculature of the vocalization is well trained and works together in a coordinated way. So it is with the autonomic nervous system. Only then begins the art, the freedom of a voice or playing. 

There is another aspect of polyvagal theory in vocal work. It is not only about “annoyed” singers, but also about the interaction. Do we fight and war when we make music together, or are we harmonious and in good contact? Often in the singing business or in orchestras, ensembles,…. fierce competition. If the autonomic nervous system is in fight-flight or freeze mode, then we fight each other and have no connection to ourselves, the music and the fellow musicians. Creative interaction, ease and joy, are only possible when we are relaxed and our nervous system can work in a regulated way. 

Access to our vocal and personal potential is only possible when we have learned a healthy and natural vocal function that is free of compensation patterns and this includes knowing which muscles I need to work on to regulate my voice. It is a solution-oriented way that shows the singer or the artist how to solve which problem. He thus regains self-empowerment. His actions are effective and a years-long search for solutions to multiple voice problems have an end here. 

The voice is then free. Art is always about the freedom of an artist. Only then can he really create and act artistically. For this he needs an instrument that is really free. If the singer knows how to use his craft, all doors are open to him.

Target group:
The training is aimed at singers, voice teachers, voice coaches, speakers and actors. The focus is on artistic practice. The goal is to reintegrate art with spirituality and regulatory aspects (self-healing). This has always been the origin and mission of the arts.

Women who have participated in the Voice Training Program are also eligible for this advanced training. 

Whoever is not artistically active, but has an interest in voice work in connection with polyvagal theory and comes from a therapeutic, pedagogical, health or completely foreign professional field, receives with the Voice Training Program a good prerequisite for participation in this advanced training. The basic courses I and II contain only theoretical content and are also open to interested parties. 

The advanced training counts as the 2nd part of the training in “Neuro-functional voice training” according to Iris Hammermeister. 

The training consists of 5 parts:

Basic course I

Contents:

Theory:
Polyvagal theory according to Steven Porges.
Connections between body and brain.
Dream traces in the brain, body and mind.
Loss of self / I.
Finding your own voice. 
How the autonomic nervous system works.
The importance of the vagus nerve. 
Reaction of the psyche to the musculature and the connection to the autonomic nervous system.
Effects on health and immune system.
The existence and need phase according to Lisbeth Marche (Bodynamic).

Target group: Suitable for all professionals interested in polyvagal theory

Note: This course corresponds to the day workshop (online) “The Polyvagal Theory in Voice Practice – Baiskurs I”. This will take place live (online). This is about theoretical content, not practical vocal exercises! This day workshop is a good introduction to the topic.

Date:
10.07.21

The day workshop starts at 10.00 am and ends at 18.00 pm.

Price: 149.00 Euro gross

.

Basic course II

Contents:

Theory:

Anatomy of the musculature for vocalization.
Laryngeal innervation: the arytaenoid muscle system / cricothyroid muscle system.
What nerves supply the laryngeal musculature and what neural connections exist to brain areas.
The influence of frequencies and rhythm on the ear and skin, affecting the polyvagal nervous system.
Anatomy and significance of the middle ear musculature.
Anatomy and significance of the inner ear.
The effects of our first contact and bonding experiences on the ear and voice.
Conscious control of an involuntary muscular system.
Reclaiming control and self-empowerment.
Activation of the ventral vagus nerve.
Parallel muscle systems and parallel processes – psoas muscle

Note: Prerequisite Basic Course I

This course corresponds to the day workshop (online) “The Polyvagal Theory in Voice Practice – Basic Course II.”

Target group: Suitable for all professionals who are interested in polyvagal theory in connection with the voice.

This course is a live day workshop (online). This is all about theoretical content. 

Date:
18.09.21

The day workshop starts at 10.00 and ends at 20.00.

Price: 199,00 Euro gross

.

Practitioner Course I

Contents:
Translation of theoretical content into practice.

Training of the muscles for vocalization.
Arytaenoid muscle system / cricothyroid muscle system training in connection with the vowels.
Activation and energization of the ventral vagus nerve. 
Working with reflexes.
Releasing pent-up energy.
Rhythm and regulation.
Feeling the sound. 
Increase the life force and sound energy. 
Self-regulation – self-organization of the voice.
The relationship between teacher and student /Co-Regulation

Note: Prerequisite Basic Course I & II

Target group: Singers, voice teachers, actors, speakers and voice coaches

The course is a live online event. Work is done with each individual. The number of participants is limited to 8 TN.

Date:
16.10. – 17.10.21

The course includes an event from Friday 10.00 clock – 17.00 clock and Saturday 10.00 clock – 16.00 clock.

Price: 289,00 Euro gross

.

Booked out! 

The Basic Courses I and II will be available as streaming video from September and are therefore available without fixed dates. New dates for the Practitioner courses will be available from January 2022 and will be on the website soon.

Practitioner Course II

Contents:
Translation of theoretical content into practice.

The importance of hearing.
The feeback loop between the middle ear and larynx. An interrupted resonance is restored. 
The individual and the authentic voice.
The artist as a vessel.
The Safe and Sound Protocoll by Stephen Porges.

Note: Prerequisite Basic I & II and Practitioner I

Target group: Singers, voice teachers, actors, voice actors and voice coaches

The course is a live online event. Work is done with each individual. The number of participants is limited to 8 TN.

Dates:
11.12. – 12.12.21

The course includes an event from Friday 10.00 clock – 17.00 clock and Saturday 10.00 clock – 16.00 clock.

Price: 289,00 Euro gross

.

Booked out!

Masterclass

The highest art form: improvisation
Lied song.
Working on songs you bring or free improvisation.
Concluding with a streaming concert.

Note: Prerequisite Basic I & II and Practitioner I & II

The course is a live online event. Work will be done with each individual. The number of participants is limited to 8 TN.

Date:
12.02. – 13.2.22

Target group: Singers, voice teachers, actors, speakers and voice coaches

The course includes an event from Friday 10. 00 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The streaming concert will take place at 6 p.m. 

Price: 289.00 Euro gross

.

Booked out!

Additional course optional

Contents:
Practical work with ensembles, orchestras, choirs.

Together or against each other?
The collective nervous system.
Co-regulation within a group.
Music is communication.

The polyvagal theory in the work with groups.

Target audience: choral directors, choral singers, bands, ensembles, members of bands and ensembles.

This is a face-to-face event that will take place at the Landesmusikakademie Neuwied.

A date will be announced as soon as presence events are possible again.

This course takes place from Friday 18.00 to Sunday 14.00.

Price: 330 Euro plus accommodation and meals

For graduates of the voice training program /complete booking.

Complete booking:

Iris Hammermeister

Iris Hammermeister is a classically trained singer, vocal coach, trauma and systems therapist. She has spent many years researching how first contact and attachment experiences affect our voice. This included polyvagal theory according to Steven Porges. The autonomic nervous system and the formation of the voice cannot be separated. She sees in this knowledge an incredible potential for singers and artists to gain the path to freedom.

The peculiarity of her voice work is not only her fine sense and special (auditory) perception, but also her extensive knowledge from the various disciplines of vocal physiology, pedagogy, anatomy, medicine. Neurobiology, psychotraumatology, developmental psychology,… she brings together to form a whole. She combines science and practice and is a sought-after expert. Her seminars and trainings are attended by singers from Germany and abroad.