Appoggio

Appoggio means support in Italian and is a specific way of working with your voice.

The term expresses two supporting sensations - on the diaphragm, which sensorily creates the tone's "feet", and in the cupola of the head (resonance cavities), which sensorily creates the tone's "head". The diaphragm forms the lower support, while the imaginary cupola the upper support.

 

Even adults need a relatively long time to practice the appoggio, so you will need even more patience and caution with children. It is not rare that the meaning of "support" is often confused with a non-physiological pressure which leads to cramping, or even to damage of the vocal cords. If adult students need plenty of caution in practice, you will need twice as much when working with children (whose vocal organs are far more vulnerable). This doesn't mean that you should not practice appoggio with children. Quite the opposite, if they get acquainted with this working method already at the age of 7-8, there is a great chance that at the age of 10-11 they could master their voices with certainty.

 

I would like to warn once again about confusing a flexible appoggio with an abdominal compression. (Abdominal compression is a way of creating pressure in the abdominal cavity for the purposes of making bowel movements, giving birth, lifting heavy burdens, etc. in which the entire body "achieves" a cramp-like condition.)

Children are capable of a true, well performed appoggio. The abdominal compression would devastate their frail voices.

You can tell quite easily whether a child uses true appoggio or not. His/her voice is vibrant, supported on the diaphragm, entirely controllable, with a great range, motion and dynamic potential while still maintaining its childlike character. Such a voice engaging an appoggio has an ideal quality appropriate for the child's age. The voice is formed without any constraint and at the same time is unexpectedly vibrant because it resonates everywhere it should.

It is unacceptable to demand that children sing in a "larger" or more adult voice than they momentarily have. It always comes at the cost of mistreating their singing apparatus and a natural childlike character. There is nothing sadder than a child singing in a voice which sounds unnaturally like an warn-out opera singer or a raspy "superstar".