An introduction to fundamental aspects of Therapeutic Singing by
the founder Valborg Werbeck-Svärdström, based on her teachings
“Uncovering the Voice: The Cleansing Power of Song”
An introduction to fundamental aspects of Therapeutic Singing by the founder Valborg Werbeck-Svärdström, based on her teachings “Uncovering the Voice: The Cleansing Power of Song”
Valborg Werbeck-Svärdström (1897-1972), the Swedish singer and founder of a new school of singing, explored the art of singing as a therapeutic application. She began her work in close cooperation with Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) and the medical doctors Eugen Kolisko (1893-1939) and Karl König (1902-1966). Her fundamental insight was that “every human being has a voice, it is there, it only needs to be liberated”. Her concept of the human voice is not purely physical/functional/mechanical, but she speaks of an inner voice.
Her experiences and research made her realise that the physical organs of the ear, larynx and respiratory organs as well as the speech organisation (tongue, lips, jaw, palate, etc.) extend into the whole body, so to speak, because it is the whole human body that sounds. Therefore, we have to open our physical instrument so that the sound can permeate and shine through.
In her work on the human voice, she referred to Goethe's insights and research on the archetypal plant. Like him, we should not only observe exactly, but also intuitively and empirically come to an organic perception. His research into the secrets of the plant world, namely the idea as an essential active principle that exists and acts behind the outwardly visible, inspired her to apply this to the human voice. She believed that our ear must listen expectantly inwards until we discover "the archetypal sound, the creative ground of all human vocal manifestation".
Here, we have to entrust ourselves and be guided by our inner and outer ear, listening for the hidden sound within us. She says “the human ‘voice’ needs no ‘training’- it is already there, finished, and perfect as an entity sounding in the ideal world. What it is waiting for, is liberation! We should speak of freeing the voice, or better still, uncovering the voice and not voice training”, because that this is the key to real singing. It is about moving from an external to an internal view of singing.
The method she developed is based on her belief that “the voice as such can never fall ill, but that healing forces must be inherent in it”. She refers to J.S. Bach who spoke of music as the recreation of the soul as the purpose of music. For her approach she developed a range of exercises that focus on the qualitative characteristics of the tone and breathing of the client. These singing exercises aim to help free the voice from all obstructions and thus "uncover" the human voice.
At the International Coordination of Anthroposophic Arts Therapies ICAAT you find more information on Therapeutic Singing (Anthroposophic Singing Therapy as it is called in other countries).