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book love: the right to speak // 09


Welcome to the 9th instalment of Book Love: a series in which I tell you all about the resources, guides, and inspirational books that I love. Today’s book is The Right To Speak: Working With The Voice by Patsy Rodenburg.

The Right To Speak is required reading at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts in Toronto. My good friend, Evangelia Kambites, is an alumna of the Academy and I found this book laying around her apartment while on one of my frequent stays. (Fun fact: Evangelia and I became friends in high school because we both played alto saxophone in the concert band.)

Rodenburg’s book reads a bit like two separate books. Part one is about declaring your vocal rights, and goes into great detail explaining the ways in which our voices are affected through our experiences. It discusses vocal habits and where they can originate, from familiar mimicry to fashionable speech to stuttering. I feel that part one of this book is essential reading for any voice teacher who wishes to understand how privilege, power, and oppression can manifest as vocal issues. Considering you will be hard-pressed to find a vocal student who hasn’t experienced oppression in their life in some way, it’s obvious why this information is valuable.


The second part of the book is called An Owner’s Manual of the Voice. This section explains the physical mechanisms that go into breathing, vocalization, and phonation. It includes a detailed warm up, and a bunch of other handy considerations like how to deal with an accented voice, how to vocalize heightened emotions, and general health.

Admittedly, I haven’t explored the second section of The Right To Speak as much as I would like to. I have attempted her full warm up twice but each time it aggravated my chronic back pain. I would recommend reading through the warm up fully before attempting it and attempt it only if you are an experienced vocalist. If you are a beginner I would bring the book to a teacher and be supervised.



That’s it for Book Love // 09. Let me know what you’re reading in the comments. You can also check out the last post in the series, The Jazz Standards. If you are interested in other resources for singers, click here.

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Renée is a queer, non-binary, disabled, and chronically ill creator based in Montreal. They are a singer, songwriter, pianist, YouTuber, and Periscoper. They are currently a student of jazz studies at Mcgill University and a freelance vocal coach for young and emerging singers.


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