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Tools for Singers

Warmup Ideas (from Voice Health 101 .com)

Singing Health Exercises

There are many different types exercises that singers can use to build a healthy singing technique. The exercises presented here are the suggestions based on the opinions of a singing voice specialist, a voice pathologist, and an otolaryngologist. We have based our suggestions on an understanding of how the voice functions anatomically and physiologically. With that said, using these exercises alone is certainly not going to replace the eyes and ears of an experienced teacher. Therefore, we recommend you use them as supplemental tool and seek formal training from an experienced voice teacher. We hope that you find these exercises helpful.

Warmup

The goal of this exercise is to begin to use the singing voice easily and without excessive effort. Excessive effort might feel like a strong vibration in the throat, a sensation of fatigue or burning. These feelings could lead to a more serious problem and should be avoided. This exercise should be done at a comfortable pitch with a softly engaged loudness level. This does not mean that you should hold back your voice but it should feel very light and easily produced. A lip buzz is a good way to focus on feeling vibrations on the lips, in the mouth, and possibly in other parts of the face. This exercise should be done in a comfortable and easy range to start and can be extended out to higher and lower pitches as the voice feels “warmed”. Begin by taking a relaxed inhalation through an open and relaxed mouth. Allow each inhalation to be a chance to renew and relax. Gently close the lips together and slightly purse them forward. Allow the mouth to feel spacious and relaxed. Make sure not to hold your breath between the inhalation and the exhalation. Allow the breath to flow out at an even rate and allow the lips to buzz. If lip buzz is not easy for you or impossible a tongue trill, raspberry (sticking out the tongue and buzzing the tongue and the bottom lip), or a hmm can be used.

Breath coordination

This exercise is to help establish good breath coordination for singing. This exercise should be done with special attention to allowing a slow descent of the expansion created with the inhalation during exhalation or singing. Allow the throat to remain loose and become aware of the vibrations that can found in the mouth and face during the z sound. Begin by standing or sitting in a comfortable yet elongated position. Inhale deeply yet with relaxation. Avoid allowing the shoulders or upper chest to rise with the inhalation. Making sure not to hold your breath after the inhalation. Notice where your body expands as you inhale and try to resist that expansion from depleting immediately as you sustain an s sound. Keep the out flow of breath as steady as possible. Next try this with the z sound for as long as comfortably possible on any single pitch.

Finding vibrations

The goal of this exercise is to reduce the amount of muscular tension and notice the subtle vibrations in the mouth, nose, sinus area, and on the lips. Localized vibrations in the throat could indicate tension therefore taking away tension can help in feeling subtle vibrations in the mouth, nose, sinus area, on the lips, typically called the mask. The use of nasal consonants, if done with relaxation and freedom, will allow you to feel a good amount of vibration in the facial region as opposed to the neck region. Like wise, the use of the bright and forward vowels i and e should allow you to feel vibration easily. As you ascend and descend keep your throat relaxed, maintain a steady airflow, and through the use of the nasal consonants and bright vowels, allow yourself to feel vibrations in the facial area. It can be useful to watch yourself in a mirror so that you can have visual feedback to any excessive tension you might be creating. This exercise should be done in a comfortable range with a softly engaged loudness level focusing on ease of production. This can also be an exercise to work on range extension and by singing octave range instead of a fifth (1351531).

Stretching and contracting

The goal of this type of exercise is to stretch and contract the vocal folds by gently working the muscles in the throat involved in pitch fluctuation. This exercise, like all of the exercises, strives to develop well functioning breath coordination and also reduce any unnecessary tension. The n consonant is used to feel vibration in the month and face. Vowels and consonants can be altered to fit the individual singer. Begin this exercise from a lower pitch and glide up to a higher pitch and then glide back down to the beginning pitch. Any interval can be used. A 2nd, 3rd, 5th and octave are shown here. It is recommended that you start with a 3rd and increase the range when the production feels comfortable. This exercise should be done in a comfortable range with a softly engaged loudness level focusing on ease of production. It is important to work toward releasing any feeling of excessive effort in the throat area and allowing the breath to flow freely and easily. This exercise can be done over a wide range. Comfort should be established first before singing in the extremes of one’s vocal range.




Relieving tongue and jaw tension

The purpose of any type of relaxation or release of tension exercise is to make the coordination of singing easier for the performer, to reduce the sound of strain and harshness in the voice, and keep the vocal folds health. One goal in this exercise is to allow the tongue to relax forward and out of the back of the throat. Tension in the tongue can cause tension in the throat, negatively affecting voice production. Another goal is to allow the jaw to remain relaxed, loose, and open. Begin by allowing the jaw to release in a comfortably open position, allow the tongue to remain loose and able to move freely, and keep the face relaxed. Breathe in and allow the sound to feel like the beginning of a yawn. Allow the onset of the sound to be instantaneous and effortless. After the /b/ and /l/ are articulated, allow the tongue to gently hang out over the bottom lip. Like all other exercises, this exercise should be done in a comfortable range with a softly engaged loudness level focusing on ease of production.

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Warm-Up Stretches (from Singing for Dummies)

Singing Warm Ups: Stretching the Body

By Pamelia S. Phillips

No matter how easy the day is, start your singing practice session warm ups by stretching out. You want to get your entire body ready to sing, not just your singing muscles. For the breath to really move in your body, you need to be connected to your lower body.

Try the following stretching routine, which begins with your head and moves to your toes. For each segment, remember to continue breathing as you move.

  1. Shake out any tension in your entire body.

    Wiggle around until you feel the stiffness in your joints melting away. Focus on posture and releasing tension.

  2. Release your head forward.

    Gently drop your head toward your chest at a slow pace and inhale. As you exhale, allow your head to drop a little farther. Repeat this several times, allowing the head to drop farther each time to stretch the neck muscles. Inhale and lift your head back to its balanced position.

  3. Move your head.

    Turn your head to the left and to the right. Roll your head around, starting from the left side and rolling your chin near your chest to the right side. Don’t roll your head back unless you’ve worked with this kind of movement before. The vertebrae in your neck may not respond well to pressure from your head rolling backward.

  4. Gently stretch your neck.

    Gently drop your left ear toward your left shoulder and pause. Inhale and, as you exhale, drop your head a little farther toward your shoulder. Repeat several times, and then repeat the sequence over your right shoulder.

  5. Move all the muscles in your face.

    Tighten them and then release, to feel the flow of energy in your face.

  6. Move your tongue in and out.

    Stick it out as far as possible and then move it back in. You can also lick your lips — move your tongue in a circle around the outside of your mouth to stretch the muscles in your tongue.

  7. Work your shoulders.

    Lift your shoulders and then push them down. Move your shoulders forward and then back. Make circles with shoulders in one direction, and then reverse. Keep your chest steady and open.

  8. Swing one arm (and then the other) in circles.

    As you swing, wiggle your fingers and wrist to get the blood flowing all the way down your arm. Be careful; watch out for furniture. Repeat with the other arm.

  9. Stretch your side.

    Lift your left arm over your head and lean to the right. As you lean, feel the muscles between your ribs opening on your left side. Reverse: Lift your right arm and stretch your other side.

  10. Swing those hips around to loosen that tension.

    Many women hold tension in their hips. You don’t have to be tough now. Let ’em loose. Let the hips rock back to front, as well as around in circles.

  11. Warm up your legs.

    Stand on your toes and then lower your feet back to the floor. Stand on one leg and shake out the other. Reverse to get the other leg in motion. Move up on your tiptoes, and then drop back to the floor and bend your knees.

  12. Finally, take a nice deep breath and feel the energy flowing in your body.

Getting your blood pumping while warming up helps you focus on your task at hand. If you’re having trouble connecting your breath to your song, try being more physical in your warm-up or practice session.

One way to connect your body is to shoot basketball granny shots. Bend your knees, drop your arms between your legs, and throw the invisible ball up with two hands. This motion gets you connected to your lower body and really helps you connect energy to sing higher notes. If you shoot a regular free throw, you lift your body up to sing the note.

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