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She calls him a “brilliant human”. He calls her “an operatic Marilyn Monroe”. As Central Coast Conservatorium singing teacher Michaele Archer prepares to welcome her mentor – world-renowned Swiss voice coach Robin de Haas to Gosford – for the Australian premiere screening of a documentary about his life and a Breathing Coordination masterclass on November 29 and 30, Geraldine Cardozo spoke to the pair about how they met and how their methodology can help everyone – from singers to CEOs.

Michaele Archer

“When I was studying in New York with a wonderful teacher, David Jones, he mentioned I might be interested in a method called Breathing Coordination. I had a feeling this was something I needed to look into as finding an optimal approach to breathing was something I had been exploring since studying at Opera school at Sydney Conservatorium.

There are so many different methods which can be confusing for young singers. My thinking was there had to be an optimal method which cuts through all the confusion and conflicting information. I completed a Masters of Applied Science comparing two opposing breathing methods after finishing opera school. So looking into Breathing Coordination was something I had to do. 

It was a few years after working with David that I attended an introductory Breathing Coordination five-day workshop with Robin de Haas and Lynn Martin in Los Angeles. The workshop was a profound experience and there was no turning back. Lynn and Robin invited me to train as a Breathing Coordination practitioner and I’m so happy to bring this method to singers in Australia. In a nutshell it has taken my voice/teaching and personal journey to a place of freedom and expression that I dreamed of.

Really the transformation moments were on the massage table having sessions with Robin. The method is quite subtle but there can be big shifts as well. Feeling the ribs lengthen and gain more freedom and feeling my whole body open and my breath patterns shift was a dramatic experience. Singing was immediately so much easier. I felt like I was flying! It’s been an amazing journey and privilege to have the opportunity to work with Robin. Needless to say he is a brilliant human!

I am so excited to be able to invite Robin to present his masterclass and workshop – and also to screen the documentary Robin de Voix about him –  here at Central Coast Conservatorium of Music. He delivers workshops in Europe, New York and London so it’s a rare chance to work with him.

Robin de Haas

This is the third time I will be visiting Australia. I brought my Dad as part of a big celebration and once to collaborate with Michaele. This time, I’m hoping to share more time with Michaele and her family as it’s been way too long since I’ve been able to spend time with them.

I wanted to come to the Central Coast, as it is really about this soul connection I have with Michaele. These are her people, her good energies are all around here and this is where I wish to be.

My first impression of Michaele is that she always was a kind of operatic version of Marilyn Monroe to me – kind, soft, elegant and very charismatic.Now Michaele brings MDH Breathing Coordination to this part of the world. This technique is showing to be so beneficial to humans, anywhere and everywhere. The care she puts into it is also part of her success and of its importance.

We will see some of the techniques at my masterclass, which is also going to be lots of fun. There will be lots of practical exercises for the workshop and lots of detailed guidance for those participating actively in the masterclass. I can’t wait for it!

I am a big believer in no matter what things may seem, there’s always hidden potential to be revealed if you look close enough and through love. As well as singers, I also work with everyone from actors to CEOs. It’s indeed so fascinating to meet and help executives on the various levels of their journey into leadership. Seeing how the change in one C-level person can impact hundreds gives me so much hope.

What is Breathing Coordination method?

Michaele: “I often get asked, what can people expect in a Breathing Coordination session. What I like about this method is it is evidence-based in functional anatomy. We start from the perspective of understanding what the muscles are doing and how the air flow and air pressures are working. Then it’s up to the singers and teacher to discover which structures can offer more freedom and work towards that with exercises in lessons and at home. It’s a team work effort between teacher and singer. The reward is greater freedom of the voice and body which gives us the chance to be more expressive. That’s the ultimate goal, to find artistic and personal expression. 

The method helps lots of people. I’ve worked with singers and speakers experiencing vocal damage and fatigue, members of the general public who want to work on their breathing and also people with health issues. For singers, it can take them to the next level. My favourite thing is seeing the joy when singers make beautiful free sounds and the voice opens up! 

Lessons involve lying on the massage table, fully clothed. We start with what we call ‘basic prep’ which is freeing and moving the large muscle structures which layer directly with breathing muscles (ie legs, shoulders and neck). Then we move to the rib cage itself and combine breathing and voice work focusing on extending the exhale which strengthens the diaphragm and a calm, silent inhale. We look for freedom of movement and evenly distributed movement for breathing. Alignment is also key. Everyone is different in terms of areas that are moving well and areas that might need more freedom. We then take these ideas into standing for the vocal lesson. 

Robin de Haas/Central Coast Conservatorium event details

Australian Premiere – Robin de Voix

  • Date: Wednesday 29 November, 7pm
  • Venue: Robert Knox Hall
  • Details: Film screening, 7pm followed by a live Q&A with Robin
  • Tickets: $10, free for Conservatorium students and staff
  • Booking:
  • Age: Recommended for ages 12 and over

Robin de Haas Workshop and Sessions