Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Jackie Evancho Tilt or Not to Tilt, THAT is the Question

Commentary: About Jackie’s throat


vocal 10In a recent comment on an Amazon customer forum, TheKinginblack, who works in otolaryngology, provided interesting information about why Jackie Evancho sometimes tilts her head (apparently to the right). The following is a paraphrase.
The human throat is a tube. When you take a tube and twist it, the pathway through the tube is constricted. That’s what happens when a singer tilts her head.
Twisting the throat smooths the muscles around the trachea and constricts the airflow. That creates a whistling chamber, which makes it easier for the singer to hit high notes by creating lower volume and higher velocity.
Jackie both twists and tilts her head when she sings high notes. She does so as physical compensation, most likely automatic.
Natural development has caused Jackie’s vocal folds to lengthen and the amount of blood in them to increase. The result is that higher notes require greater support. However, because Jackie is still small and growing, her supporting cast (the core muscle groups) have yet to catch up.
vocal 7
The head tilt is a temporary fix, not a permanent solution. As she grows and trains her support will improve and the head tilt should go away. The only concern, TheKinginblack states, is that the head tilt places more work on the vocal folds and the delicate muscles of the trachea and less work on the support, which are much more robust muscle groups. That is something to be mindful of, but in Jackie’s case, it’s not something to be overly worried about.
TheKinginblack recommends that (if it is not already being done) Jackie’s coach should emphasize support strengthening, which can be accomplished through exercises and regular practice.
Pilates can help, as can push-ups and core work, such as planks, leg lifts, and crunches. Healthy protein intake is also recommended. “Jackie is essentially an athlete of the voice”. As with any other athlete, extra protein intake will help build and strengthen her muscles.
TheKinginblack mentioned Maria Carey as a well-known example (she is one among many) of a singer who made a mess of her voice. By pushing her voice to and beyond its limits, over a period of time her vocal folds began to bleed, to lose elasticity, and to form vocal nodules.
Jackie has not come close to abusing her voice the way Carey or Adele or any number of rock singers have.
TheKinginblack concludes that maintaining her regular visits to an otolaryngologist, keeping her schedule light, and singing gentle songs (no more Nessun Dorma) should be more than adequate to maintain a healthy instrument.
Post courtesy of
TheJackieEvanchoMagic says........
My personal opinion? I think Jackie does the head-tilt/-twist thing simply because that's how she expresses the emotions of the music she feels when she sings, the same way she waves her arms, punches with her fists and gesticulates with her hands, and not because of any intentional technical manipulations of her physical equipment to help her voice along. I don't think her voice needed/needs any help! It is magnificent without trying to be.
With due respect for the credentials and years of study of the otolaryngologist, I think these days, everyone wants to be the expert on all things Jackie, and generalisation is rife. Everyone wants to claim to have the expert low-down on Jackie's talent. Annoying.
Afterall she is an individual and not to be lumped in constantly with and compared to all kinds of other singers out there. Most of whom are mature adults, well-seasoned in their craft with years of technical training and struggles behind them, to even get close to Jackie's abilities. She charmingly & effortlessly blows them all away anyway when she opens her mouth and lets her talent play. With or without expert otolaryngologists learned opinions. 
While the info may be interesting, ......who cares? We just love to hear her extraordinary gift and are grateful that she has been given an opportunity to share it with us. All the experts.....take a break already and let the girl enjoy her passion. Like she did before all y'all came along! She was always so joyous & carefree then. Don't ruin her happiness now with all this (albeit well-meaning) 'expert advice.' I think Jackie knows her own abilities best. Her head-tilting seems to have more to do with her personality than technical singing practices. She tilts her head many times during interviews/chats/clowning around when she giggles, laughs, gets bashful, cute, funny or just affectionate with her family members, fans & friends. It's a Jackie-thing! 
In reality Jackie is just a (still) very young girl who adores singing and does so from her heart & soul, as she always has done and will hopefully continue to do for a long time to come - head tilt or no head tilt. What do you think?
Jackie hitting that incredible high note - what? no head tilt?!
                                          Jackie.  Just being Jackie.