The Lessac System
Of Vocal and Physical Training

Additional Information

Arthur Lessac and his System

 

Arthur Lessac (1909-2011) was a classically trained tenor who studied at the Eastman School of Music. Despite the best training, he had trouble navigating his passaggio, accessing his falsetto, and integrating his “top” with the rest of his voice.  Determined to solve his singing issues, he developed a way to consciously feel the kinesthetic sensations of healthy vocal use and to use familiar sensory experiences from life to teach his voice and body to function in a healthy fashion.  He called the conscious experiencing of his kinesthesia “Kine-sensics,” and he started to develop a system of working with his voice that focused on kine-sensic learning. Arthur’s uniquely kine-sensic system teaches you to feel and access the enjoyable vibratory, rhythmic, and energetic sensations of healthy vocal and physical use.  The system also uses musical metaphors and imaginative explorations to develop creative and practical tools for voice and body use. Overall, the Lessac System seeks to combat the anesthetic influences that cause people to lose awareness of the pleasurable sensations of healthy vocal and physical use, by increasing the esthetic experience of using the voice and body. Working in this manner, Arthur was able to guide himself through the parts of his voice that had previously caused him trouble and develop a system to teach Kine-sensics to others. In 1953 he received a Master of Arts degree in Voice-Speech Clinical Therapy from New York University.  As a voice therapist, he worked with speech therapy patients at Bellevue Hospital.  As a teacher, he applied he applied his work to a variety of professions and situations.  For 20 years, Lessac worked at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America where he taught rabbinical students how to use good speech, voice, and expressiveness to inspire audiences through vocal delivery.  His work in theatre included coaching Broadway actors and singers, teaching voice in the Stella Adler Theatre Studio, training actors at the Lincoln Center Repertory Company, and directing the voice and movement training at SUNY Binghamton.  Throughout his life, Arthur continued teaching and researching ways to work with and maximize vocal, physical, and emotional synergy.  In 1998, he founded the Lessac Training and Research Institute to teach and continue his work on developing human potential. Through his influential contributions to speech therapy and theatrical voice, speech, and movement training, Arthur Lessac became one of the foremost voice and speech teachers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. ​

 

 

Some Arthur Lessac Quotes:

 

 

“Man, so used to using his fingers or his lips or his tongue to play other instruments, seldom thinks of what he uses to “play” himself.”  

 

 

“The physical sensation of producing sound well can be recognized and understood immediately, and I teach the use of these non-auditory sensation patterns to guide and control the production of sound.”

 

“Breathing and posture constitute an essential interdependent duality… No physical act, speaking and singing included, can be carried out efficiently and pleasurably unless it is supported by healthful breathing and by the posture that is responsive to the body’s needs.”

 

 “Either listening or thinking will deemphasize the true role of vocal life or even block out a genuine, productive vocal life altogether.  Control cannot be imposed before or after the fact, by thought or by listening, but can only grow out of the moment, the result of your intrinsic feeling of the action, if real vocal life is to emerge.”

 

 “When you speak or practice voice exercises, do not think the sound first! Do not listen to the sound first! Learn to feel the sound first!”

 

“To become vocal life, voice and speech must become intrinsically enmeshed with all the life energies – with the emotional and physical energies of the individual.”

 

“ We need to recognize (1) that the so-called natural of conditioned speech and voice habit patterns may very well be unnatural self-use and (2) that through familiar event programming we can discover the body’s true natural freedom.”

 

“Everything is part of something, and nothing functions well until it functions in a balanced relationship with every other part.”

 

“Never use your voice by rote; let it be part of a searching process – a search for sounds, moods, rhythms, emotions, and meanings; a search for new patterns, and the facile breaking of old ones.”

 

“Your vocal life, when fully developed and integrated with emotional and physical life, will become an important key to effectively transform stage fright into stage excitement.”

 

 

“We are talking about the habit of experiencing the physical sensations of voice and speech with relaxed energy and the habit of awareness and recognition of these sensations – never the habit of performing these actions without awareness.”

 

“Let the vocal life express and inspire the emotional life at the same time…Just as you can be moved emotionally by a piece of music, so you can find new feelings, new images, and new meanings in the dynamics of your own voice and speech when you experience the music and life of the consonants, the vowels, and the resonance.”

 

“If you explore the text freely with your voice, without fear of sounding silly or wrong, the result will sometimes be unorthodox, sometimes even a little eccentric, but you will find in these experiments unexpected new meanings and interpretations.”

 

“Do not be afraid to be wrong.  Perhaps the most devastating thing that can be said about an actor is: “He never made a real mistake.”  If you never make a mistake, if you never go wrong or too far out, if you never violate the rules of taste, order, and form, you will never begin to investigate the range of possibilities within a role, or, more importantly, within yourself…The new and exciting lie outside the accepted boundaries.”

 

 

For More Information/ Lessac Links:

 

For more information on the Lessac System of Vocal Training:

Link:  lessacinstitute.org

 

For more on Arthur Lessac’s life and work:

Link:www.nytimes.com/.../arthur-lessac-holistic-vocal-c...

 

Arthur Lessac lived to be 101 ½ years old.  Until his death, he remained a joyously vibrant teacher and researcher of healthy vocal and physical use. Shortly before he died, he taught a voice and body workshop in Croatia.  The attached 5 1/2 minute video clip offers a taste of the joy Arthur brought to his work and his life. In this clip, Arthur  teaches a session at Rijeka University in Croatia and attends a Carnival during his 10-day Croatian stay http://vimeo.com/22194675

 

Books by Arthur Lessac:

 

“The Use and Training of the Human Voice”

“Body Wisdom: The Use and Training of the Human Body”

“Essential Lessac”