The body as a
sound system

Classes with Robert Liethoff

>> Do we know what voice is? How do we perceive sound? How do voice, sound and body interact during the act of singing, making sounds and speaking? Can we be guided by sound sensory perception? 

In my work with vocal artists, the initial idea is to invite them to listen to their own voice. Before focusing on musical aesthetics, we learn how to hear, sense and recognize the finer realities of our own vocal output. Attention is brought to the vibration, spaciousness, malleability and the deeper sound structures (overtones, harmonies etc.) within the voice. Aside from refining auditory perception, in this approach there is strong emphasis on sensory regulation for voice production, rather than working with a more old fashioned idea of ‘telling the body what to do in order to…’ So therefore, there will be much consideration for the interlinked and dynamic relationship between the sensory faculties. Specific parts of our body tissue have sensory receptors, which pick up on the finer sound details (vibration) of our voice. This tissue becomes an integral part of the sound design of our vocal projection. From this, we can perceive the reciprocal exchange between voice emission, auditory perception and the resonance within the body tissue. 

Essential in this process are cultivating perception, ear training (through the use of acoustical stimuli), and the inquiry of one’s own body. Together we will create a space for inquiry, in which we engage our full physical and mental listening potential, in order to enrich the sound of our voice, and to become ‘sound oriented’ and ‘vibrational’. Through this process, you will develop a rich, spacious and a warm voice within a receptive body and mind. We will then be able to work with less effort, through more complex material. 

For more detailed information about this particular vocal work you can check the following websites:

Lichtenberger institute for applied physiology of the voice:

Voice learning center The Netherlands:


Robert Liethoff

>> Robert Jan Liethoff is a Berlin based actor, director and voice & movement teacher from the Netherlands. In 2005, after finishing his acting studies at ‘De Acteerstudio’ (The Hague, the Netherlands), he moved to Berlin and expanded his studies in the field of dance and choreography at the Tanzfabrik Berlin. In 2007, he began his continuing studies at the Lichtenberg Institute for Applied physiology of the voice, where he completed both student and teacher programs and held a year-long residency studying the physiological dynamics between voice and movement. Using an interdisciplinary approach to the voice, Robert works with classical singers, choirs, actors, dancers and performers in the Netherlands, Germany and Mexico. His work with performers is focused on refining their auditory perception and on developing physical sensitivity in order to clear the way for a warm, rich and spacious voice in a receptive body and mind.

Over the past few years Robert has been teaching both voice and movement at several institutions around the world, amongst them: Mexico City University of the Arts, Berlin University of the Arts, Vienna University of Arts, SMASH Berlin (a 3-Month experimental physical performance program), Somatic Academy Berlin and Andre Bolouri Studio (Actors Space Berlin). Aside from this, he is working as a vocal coach with several bands, amongst them: ‘Mother’s Favorite Daughter’ and ‘Suns of Thyme’. Since 2015, Robert is a research associate at the Spatial Sound Institute in Budapest where he developed a lecture performance for the 4D system, called Space Body Intelligence. This is a participative listening experience, which invites the audience to explore questions and ideas on the perception of sound. Space Body Intelligence was performed at Today’s Art Festival’s Circadian Program in the Netherlands and during the grand opening of the Spatial Sound Institute in Budapest. Robert’s first theatre production ‘Zocken.’ premiered in Berlin in September 2016.


Photo Credits: Micheál Rowsome, Alessio Castellacci