Voice, Speech & MELT
with Gail Bell
Life does not operate in a vacuum, neither does breath, voice, or speech.
Getting a handle on your breathing is foundational — the jumping-off point for all performers.
Gail Bell is a certified M.E.L.T therapist, trained breathing specialist and a vocal coach. She is an adjunct faculty member of NYU-Graduate Acting. A student, of Carl Stough Breathing and Feldenkrais, Gail is an accomplished actor who is comfortable on both the stage and the silver screen. She is a member of the Equity, SAG & AFTRA.
A classically trained and successful actress, Gail studied numerous breathing and vocal techniques including Fitzmaurice and Alexander. Gail came across M.E.L.T. and was astonished by its ability to reduce stress and alleviate her aches and pains. Melt also dramatically improved her sleep and she no longer needed massage or acupuncture to stay pain-free. Gail decided to devote herself to mastering the M.E.L.T. method and after rigorous study, she became certified as an instructor. She is dedicated to helping others attain the same benefits that she experienced through M.E.L.T.
Dedicated to removing blocks
How Gail discovered the M.E.L.T. method
Throughout Gail’s life, she struggled with scoliosis. Her condition, fortunately, never required surgery, but sadly became at times, unbelievably painful. To manage the pain she sought help from a number of therapists…. A Network Chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a Tuina specialist, a physical therapist, and a flexibility expert trained in Active Isolated Stretching. When it got intolerable she went to a neuromusculoskeletal medical doctor that could prescribe pain medication. An enormous amount of time and money was spent to help reduce the pain, but she was still not pain-free. Gail was determined to stay active, but the question started to become….At what cost?
In 2007 Gail discovered the M.E.L.T.method and was astonished by its ability to assuage aches and pains, reduce stress, and enhance athletic performance. She devoted the next three years to an intense study of anatomy working with Sue Hitzmann, M.E.L.T.method creator, Leslie Kaminoff, founder of the Breathing Project and Lynn Martin, an New York University professor teaching kinesthetics of anatomy to dancers both in the under and graduate school of Tisch School of the Arts.
Today, rarely does Gail experience pain. She teaches a weekly general Melt class at the Breathing Project and works one on one with people helping others to attain the same profound benefits that she experienced.
MELT is an excellent tool
to teach actors how to recognize misalignment in their bodies and what to do to correct it.
MELT uses a soft roller to reduce the tension that creates imbalance. An added benefit is that MELT also heightens an actors 6th sense. This is our intuitive or feeling sense which makes in the moment acting more achievable.
An engaged voice requires deep awareness of the breath. MELT helps that awareness.
~ Jon Eisenson
Gail’s Melt for Actors series helps actors to develop a natural breath that doesn’t feel or sound forced. They learn how to connect their speech to their breath effortlessly and as a result, their performances are deeper and more connected.
Students realize and feel how misalignment in their bodies leads to restrictions in their breath. Actors learn how to balance their body and coordinate their breathing so that their speech is married to their breath consistently and their ability to handle longer pieces of text on one breath is increased.
Gail uses a combination of Sue HItzman’s MELTmethod, Carl Stough’s Principles of Breathing Coordination and Shane Ann Younts vocal exercises. The combination of these proven techniques helps to affect a change in the actor’s resonance, melody and range in their speech.
The creation of this powerful and effective technique came out of Gail’ own struggles on the stage. Even though she had the best voice training available, she often found herself in a power struggle with her breath when performing classical text.
"An effective voice is so intimately associated with
what a speaker is saying that it attracts no attention to itself.”
Voice & Speech
The connected voice comes from the heart not the head. The head thinks about the reaction of the lines, the heart feels the moment.
When an actor is connected to their voice and they are specific with their words, and intentions, the audience is pulled to them.
If an actor focuses on their own emotions and what they have to say next, they turn off the audience.
MELT is life changing. For the first time in months, possibly years, I'm not in pain, and it's thanks to Gail Bell's MELT class. I went with a friend to my first MELT class, and I was impressed by how great I felt after that first session. Since then, I've attended weekly and learned to do some of the exercises at home. I work out regularly with spin, weightlifting and running, and exercise has left my body tight and sore, especially in my hips. I've tried yoga, stretching, massage, even physical therapy to treat the pain. But nothing is as effective as the MELT method for me. I also appreciate how precise the MELT moves are -- targeting trouble spots -- and how the class is gentle but not boring. I leave feeling centered and restored. I would recommend this for anyone who exercises regularly and wants to stay healthy!
Coming from a dance background I never really learned to use speech as a means of expression, or my breath as my voice's support. As a result my delivery suffered for the longest time. Gail healed my voice by teaching me how to connect to my breath and how to use and command speech to communicate my ideas and direction.
Her class helped me incredibly with my career transition to the corporate world where one's voice either makes it or breaks it and for that I will be forever grateful. Simply put, she's an amazing teacher and a healer on multiple levels.
Taking Gail's class had such a profound effect on my body, my breath and my voice. I have been in other classes before that focus on these areas, but Gail's integration of the MELT technique and Breathing Coordination goes above and beyond in understanding the interconnectedness of the various elements of a performer's instrument.
I felt more present in each moment and more connected to the depths of my emotional life. Most of all, I was amazed at how the range and resonance of my voice had expanded with just a short warm-up using the tools she provides. I highly recommend her class to all performers.
Gail Bell is excellent! I had severe pain and wasn't able to play the violin at all when starting to work with her. Now under her guidance, I am free of pain. But in addition, making music has become more effortless and I even started to sing! Whenever I feel unease after using my body a lot I have my tools and can use them now on my own.
Thank you so much, Gail, to give me back what I love so much: playing music!
Gail's class has really transformed a lot of things for me - brought many things that I wasn't aware of to the forefront with my breath/tension and habits - it hasn't just transformed my acting. It has helped my day to day breathing - which is a huuuuuuge source of tension in my life - connecting to a deeper breath has helped me tire less in exercising too - I'm confident that reinforcing the practice over and over will make things a lot easier for my body and eventually it will be a more of a natural action. It's such a delight to be in a class and learn. I have found this technique much easier to comprehend than The Alexander Technique.
Melt has had an immediate calming effect on chronic tension in my neck and shoulders, which I had not been able to lessen with various other modalities, including yoga, Feldenkrais and tai chi. Gail is a superb, thoughtful, and dynamic teacher whose background as a voice and breathing expert is a wonderful asset to our Melt practice. Her classes are an essential part of my lifestyle!
Breath, spinal alignment, mind-body connection: Everything an actor needs most Gail Bell liberates and activates with the techniques she so clearly presents in her MELT classes. No other approach has been as useful for me - Alexander, Pilates, Feldenkrais. After Gail's workshop I can now do her MELT method on my own and bring my voice, spine and emotions all to bear as I need them. However I still love to drop in to her classes whenever I can, as the depth of her understanding enriches the work every time I'm lucky enough to experience it.
Gail Bell's M.E.L.T class is wonderful! I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone interested in learning how to use their voice to maximum effect!
Oh my heavens!! I am standing, breathing, twisting, consciously aware of every movement my body is making and feeling ..... and the way I have been holding my head.
You, the MELT and the breathwork are such a gift to my life! I cannot thank you enough. My breathing, which directly effects my body feels like there is light for me instead of struggling to breathe.
I love you and thank you!
I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am for Gail Bell and the work she does in her Melt Classes. The whole program has been invaluable. I suffer from neuropathy in my legs, stemming from a broken ankle and spinal deterioration. I have recently had a lot of pain and have been unable to sleep at night. I decided to begin using the roller during the middle of the night in order to alleviate my pain. And to my delight, not only has the pain dissipated but for the first time in a long time, I’m able to sleep deeply. I’ve now made a resolution to Melt before I go to bed every night and it’s made a world of difference. I’m 97 now and my only regret is that I didn’t discover it earlier but I’m thankful I’ll have it for the years ahead.
My name is John Liao. I live in Beijing, China. I am retired and spend my time these days doing Qigong meditation and traveling. Recently on these travels to New York, I was introduced to Melt by Gail Bell. I was profoundly moved by her class. I felt Melt working in my body. Melt's foundation feels rooted in Chinese medicine. I think it can be described theoretically in Chinese medicine as having the effect of massaging our acupoints. I wholeheartedly recommend Gail’s class and will be returning to Beijing with my Melt balls and roller.