Appoggio Demystified

Catherine Robbin


The semantics of vocal technique can be barriers to its comprehension and practice by singers as well as potential stumbling blocks for teachers of singing. Voice teachers use terms such as support, contract, extend, expand, engage, energize, lift, open, release, relax, resist, etc. Their students may or may not understand and interpret these terms in the same way as the teacher intended them.
Appoggio is an Italian term from the golden age of bel canto and it is used in contemporary voice studios with various intended meanings. This presentation will attempt to clarify its meaning and function and suggest a clear method of teaching its use in classical singing. Appoggio in its original sense incorporated strategies of glottal resistance and resonance balancing as well as breath management. As singers, our goal is to find a resonating space that is just right for the pitch, volume and vowel being sung, and to match it with just the right amount of breath energy, not too much, not too little.
Core muscles are often invoked as the necessary components for effective breath support. But what exactly is meant by this directive? Even if we can identify and find the core muscles in our bodies, how many of us know exactly what they are assigned to do during singing? This presentation will attempt to solve this and other mysteries pertaining to the practice and teaching of breath support for singing.

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