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How did your unique vocal technique come about?  What is your story and can you tell us about the discoveries you made along the way?

As earliest as I can remember, I wanted to study singing.  At the age of 13, I was finally able to convince my parents to allow me to start taking voice lessons.  Over the course of the journey to develop the Marla Volovna Vocal Studio Method, I discovered that my parents like so many others, lacked the knowledge to choose a good teacher. 

I began with a local voice teacher who was a coloratura soprano.  She had a good reputation in the small suburb where I grew up.  As a high soprano she vocalized me in her own voice range, which again, was quite high.  As a thirteen year old, the strain of singing to the extremities of my register with no support (as she taught nothing about how to use the breath) negatively affected my voice, leaving me with a permanent sore throat for about a year.  The teacher that followed was also well intended, though did nothing to help me.   

Then I received a scholarship to the New England Conservatory in Boston.  There I studied with a Yugoslavian teacher, Lav Verbanic, who had one piece of the puzzle.   He had the “deep Larynx” technique, with no breath support behind it, however, so I began to press the larynx down and ended up with my voice in the throat.   

During the summer, I studied on scholarship in Aspen with Olga Ryss and other teachers from Julliard.  All of them taught either what I call the “forward” or the “back” technique, but there was little mention about proper use of breath support and no exercises for its development.  After three years at the conservatory and one year in New York, with Olga Ryss, I received another


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scholarship.  This time I was going to Europe, to study at the Mozarteum in Salzberg.  Unfortunately, I received more of the same sort of teaching there.  Although my powerful voice was still beautiful and impressive (I was even chosen to do a small part in the famous Salzburg Festival, Frau Ohne Shatten, by Strauss, with famous artists such as Walter Berry Christa Ludwig, James King) the effect of singing with no diaphragmatic support for so many years had begun to take its toll on my vocal instrument and defects of all sorts crept into my singing.

How did you find remnants of the
Bel Canto school?






It was not until my journey took me to Italy, however, that the great vocal technique I was in search of finally began to emerge. 

It was here that I studied with the world-renowned teachers: Campo Gagliani, Luigi Ricci, Sarah Corti, Valdamiro Badiali and Maestro Tonini, vocal coach.  Finding these living remnants of the bel canto style greatly improved my vocal technique and understanding, and helped me launch an operatic career of my own. 

These fine teachers were able to develop voices that had not been mal treated.  They were, however, unable to correct serious faults.  Most good voice teachers are capable only of developing a voice that has not been maltreated, a voice that is still virgin territory.