The Sarkissian Method
What is the Sarkissian Method?
The Sarkissian® Method is a vocal technique teaching method for singers and speakers, created by lyrical singer and pedagogue Mariam Sarkissian. The method is intended to create and/or optimise the singers' and speakers' tool of artistic and verbal expression. It allows the creation of the automatisms required for free and satisfying vocal expression and activation of the body's optimal natural resonance (and, for lyric singers, also the optimal natural amplification).
The method was described in Mariam Sarkissian's book I think, therefore I sing or The Praise of Cognitive Belcanto, intended for lyrical singers of all ages and levels and all those who want to know the origin of the lyrical vocal technique, which is the most complete and complex among the sung and spoken vocal techniques.
What is the Balance Triangle ?
The Balance Triangle is an original concept created by lyrical singer and teacher Mariam Sarkissian. This pedagogical tool brings together and links the main elements in the spoken and sung vocal technique teaching in a coherent and interdependent way.
The concept of the Balance Triangle was described in Mariam Sarkissian's book I think, therefore I sing or The Praise of Cognitive Belcanto. The first chapter, the summary and the bibliography of the book, as well as its downloading in pdf format in English and French, are available here.
The Balance Triangle concept and the Sarkissian Method have no known equivalent in the field of spoken vocal technique teaching , sung vocal technique teaching and music teaching in general.
Where does the knowledge on which the Sarkissian Method is based come from ?
From the empirical experience of the great musicians, singers and singing teachers of the past (from the 17th century to the present day), including Giovanni Battista Lamperti (1839-1910), Camille Everardi (1824-1899) and Manuel Garcia Jr. (1805-1906), whose main works and testimonials of their pupils are quoted in the book I think, therefore I sing or The Praise of Cognitive Belcanto ; the pedagogical and artistic experience of Mariam Sarkissian's main teachers, their teachers and professional entourage; numerous works, some of which are quoted and appear in the bibliography of the book I think, therefore I sing or The Praise of cognitive belcanto ; Mariam Sarkissian's own experience as a student, singer and pedagogue, including the unique experience of her post-traumatic self-rehabilitation (after a serious car accident).
How does it work ?
Once the "coordinate system" of the Sarkissian Method is assimilated (through Mariam Sarkissian's lessons ou masterclasses, trough reading the book I think, therefore I sing or The Praise of Cognitive Belcanto and/or through the Virtual Cursus proposed on the French website of the method), the student, singer or speaker (actor, professor, lawyer, etc.), can install, alone or accompanied, the technical thought of the Balance Triangle which, through its application in daily exercises, will allow the creation of useful automatisms for artistic, musical and verbal expression.
Can everyone learn to speak and sing in a high position and develop an "opera voice" ?
Not everyone, but every person who has already learnt to speak correctly can learn to speak and sing in a high position and develop his lyrical voice.
Are there different techniques for various types of singers' and speakers' voices ?
No. And the installation tools for a healthy technical basis are the same for everyone.
The most complete vocal technique is that of the lyrical singer (1st category), followed by the non-lyrical singer (2nd category) and the speaker (3rd category). All these three categories have the same technical basis.
The repertory requirements develop the skills of the non-lyric singer to be able to "declaim" the sung text at the height of frequencies that are unusual for the spoken voice placed in the High Position (that of the speaker), and in the case of the lyrical singer, who does not use ( unlike the non-lyric singer,) electric amplification, there is also the element of the Openness, the natural amplification, "the biological microphone", which is part of the lyrical style.
According to the specific needs of certain types of voices and tessitura (and of the repertoire worked on, in the singer's case), some exercises are added to help work on the technical balance.
I am a lyrical singer. Will my tessitura change with the
It is possible, in case your current technique does not allow you to optimize the development of your vocal instrument, to develop your "true voice".
Such cases are not uncommon in Mariam Sarkissian's pedagogical practice.
Is it essential to have good vocal technique to sing well ?
To make our voice and our singing in general pleasant to others – no. But to be able to produce the sounds we want to produce and be satisfied with the result, to develop a maximum of sound with a minimum of effort (one of the great aims of a lyrical singer), to make singing as free and natural as our verbal expression and to be able to sing "until our last breath" and keep our vocal cords healthy – yes.
I already have a singing teacher but I am not satisfied with my technique: could I improve my technique with the
Sarkissian Method without disturbing the work in progress?
It is possible if you are not a beginner and if you can ignore the technical indications of your teacher (if they exist), if they are incompatible with what the Sarkissian Method proposes. The method's Virtual Course, already available in French and soon in English and Russian, is a "self-help" which is perfectly suitable in this kind of situation, where we have to continue, for some reason (personal sympathy, prepared diploma in an institution, etc.), to work with a singing teacher who doesn't offer us enough valid technical solutions and we don't want (or can't) consult another teacher to solve technical problems.
How can one learn to sing or improve vocal technique
without singing arias or songs?
We learn to impose our musical thought in simple daily exercises to associate to it the technical thought of the Balance Triangle – its Sequence of sound creation, by applying the two movements of the Connection. Through the practice of these exercises, we create automatisms that allow the development of the voice and then serve the musical thought in the chosen repertoire, making the artistic and musical expression free and satisfying, because we do not think about its technical realisation while singing.
What is the technical thought ?
The term of the technical thought is introduced by Mariam Sarkissian in her book I think, therefore I sing or The Praise of Cognitive Belcanto to separate the initial creative idea (artistic or verbal) from the mechanisms serving its realisation.
The musical thought (which is the artistic thought of the lyrical singer, his initial creative idea, also introduced in the book,) answers here to the question "what" and the technical thought – to the question "how".
The Sarkissian Method introduces for the first time this separation of the creative thought from the realizing thought, as well as a clearly structured process for an optimal combination of the both.
How long does it take to install the Triangle's technical thought and to get the first results ?
According to Mariam Sarkissian's pedagogical experience, the creation of the Balance Triangle's technical thought habit among students in lyrical singing (a category that needs more time than others, as it has to master more technical elements,) aged between fourteen and seventy-six years old who practise regularly, takes between four and seven weeks. Then it takes three to four months for the first technical automatisms to appear. This doesn't mean that there won't be positive results sooner: we can start getting them after the very first work sessions, but they won't be automated and we will need to follow the same technical thought in order to be able to reproduce them each time, while speaking or singing.
Can the Sarkissian Method be applied to all esthetics
(jazz, pop, musicals, etc.) or to all repertoires
(baroque, classical, contemporary, etc.) ?
Yes, the technical basis is the same for all singers of all styles.
The singer's technical work must consider the requirements of the styles and repertoires he chooses to perform – those of the musical thought. The most complete technical work is done by the singer who has chosen lyrical singing: the element of the Openness (which represents the natural biological amplification of the lyrical singer and is automatically part of the lyrical style with no electric amplification) is added to the basic Sequence of sound creation of all other singers.