Fact or Technique?

By Kate Conklin
April 29, 2016


Recently in a workshop I noticed something peculiar. I was asking someone about what they knew about how their pelvis was designed, interested in what they might know about the structure and functioning, and the answer that came back was “You’re supposed to tuck it.”

This is not totally unusual, (and that is not true, by the way) that what someone knows is what they’ve learned to do with some part of their body, rather than how it actually works. It struck me as a useful distinction I thought I’d take a moment to discuss it here.

A fact is something that is empirically known to be true, something indisputable. A fact would be that we have 24 ribs.

A technique is a way of doing or achieving something. A technique would be how you move your ribs in optimal exhalation for singing.

While this distinction may seem a bit “no duh”,  I often find confusion of the two in people’s thinking. One of the most powerful tools you can have as a performer is to know which one you’re dealing with, and to understand the facts in order to devise a technique to do something particular, or vet an existing one.

For instance, I may have learned a particular breathing technique to use for singing. This technique may be somewhat effective, but if I understand how the respiratory mechanism works, and how it interacts with my vocal mechanism I can explore how exactly the technique works, and it’s potential limitations. I can also reason through how my existing technique might in fact be in conflict with the design of my instrument.

When you’re puzzling through something, play with these questions:

What do I know about how this actually works?

What might be helpful to know? Where could I find that information?

Now that I have more information, how might I apply that to what I’m doing?

It will take a bit of time and attention, and the result will be greater self-reliance and empowerment, and mad skills.