Diana Yampolsky Master Voice Coach & Founder of the Royans School for the Musical Performing Arts

Diana Yampolsky Master Voice Coach & Founder of the Royans School for the Musical Performing Arts
A graduate of the Leningrad Music Teacher’s College, Diana Yampolsky is a renowned specialist in the human voice. She came to Canada in 1980, and in 1984 founded the Toronto-based Royans School for the Musical Performing Arts where she teaches her revolutionary Vocal Science Immersion Program. She is also a leading voice repair specialist, public speaker, and published author who writes regularly for Canadian Musician magazine.

What are the principles of your method, Vocal Science?
Well it’s definitely different than anything else. What I am doing is completely unconventional. It’s basically restructuring the voice off the vocal box and into a set of different muscles — we’re talking now about the facial muscles where the four main vocal chambers are allocated. That’s where the sound will flow in one direction and flow out as a projection outward, provided that those facial muscles work in full conjunction with the abdominal muscles. And that is a way to practically eliminate the use of your throat, your larynx and your vocal cords.

So this has nothing to do with Bel Canto.
Not at all. There is a trend right now, everyone is Bel Canto this, that and the other, but you cannot in my opinion — and again it’s a subjective opinion based on 32 years of teaching — you cannot teach opera. You’re either born with a vocal box size XXX or you’re not. Because what conventional vocal coaching is suggesting is that if you drop your jaw down to your knee and magic will happen because you have enlarged the capacity of your vocal cords. Whereas everyone is born with small, medium, large, extra large vocal cords, if you drop your jaw and stick your stomach out like conventional vocal coaching is suggesting, you’re right away going to ruin your voice. [My technique] is completely the opposite of what the whole world is saying. And guess what? It works.

In terms of training and caring for their voices, what are some things that you think singers should know?
We’re talking about a whole mechanism, which allows our voice to work in its full capacity but only if you comply with its components. The components are: support from the lower abdomen, which is responsible for the height of the sound; upper diaphragm which is responsible for the width of the sound; taking into consideration the central line of your body, nose to belly button; and then placing every syllable on top, over, above the previous syllable in a circle direction on the central line of your body. What [conventional coaches] suggest is just to sing within your anatomy. But as I say to all of my artists, nobody is interested in your anatomy; we all have the same. What we are interested in is in your voice and in your spirit, which has to be discovered, uncovered, and flown to its own destination, by design. I believe in doing warm-ups, but not goo-goo-ga-ga-miao-miao scales, which everybody is doing, which have nothing to do, in my opinion, with the price of rice in Afghanistan.

Do you think that rock singers, many of whom don’t have any training, are doing something dangerous with all the yelling?
Yes, absolutely. That is why they all come here for voice repair. It was very interesting to watch my client Lukas Rossi [winner of the TV reality series Rock Star: Supernova]. On every show, someone was saying, "Look at that — some kind of unknown vocal technique!” And then the vocal coach on the show — we saw this on the web — suggested to Lukas to drop his jaw and he just looked very puzzled and walked away. But after that, Jason Newsted said to him "Lukas, drop your jaw!” and Lukas finally gave in and it sounded so terrible it was beyond human understanding. He had been doing the rock star style that I was teaching him, using the facial muscles working in conjunction with abdominals, and he all of a sudden dropped his jaw to his knee and it sounded off key, off colour, off tune! But the good news is they will all come eventually to me for voice repair.