Singing exercises for your voice? What does that mean? Some people don’t know much about singing and how to develop good technique, strong stamina, and great sound.- Singing Exercises are a great foundation for developing your voice to your ultimate ability.
As a young singer who started lessons at age 11 for voice by an incredible teacher from Julliard, I was introduced right away to proper singing exercises. You may have the syllable of “la la la la” in your mind set to music, that is right. I then trained throughout college at USC in Opera and went through many different voice teachers and singing exercises. Later I became a voice teacher myself and have been teaching voice for over 18 years now. As a result I created my own singing exercises for my own students and then created Voice Lessons To GO which are a series of singing exercises on CD and books. (So I’m pretty comfortable in the singing exercise world!- They are probably coming out of my ears by now
In doing singing exercises you concentrate on developing the proper muscle support in your body to release your best vocal sound. Removing “the song singing” you give yourself an opportunity to concentrate on many key point in healthy singing through these little vocalizes without the distractions of words, complicated melody, and emotion.
Ten important concepts that proper singing exercises cover:
1. Vowel production: This is practicing singing exercises on pure vowels by concentrating on individual vowels set to simple melodies throughout the range of your voice. The purpose of this is to be able to concentrate on just the vowel as opposed to words, (like in songs), which contain many syllable vowel combinations. As a result you can learn to create a pure natural ee, aa, oo, i, etc… which can then translate itself into your singing of songs. These singing exercises will let you focus on the vowel- making sure that it sounds natural, not covered, to bright, or to swallowed etc… (check out my v.3 Pure Vowels to focus on this in your practice).
2. Proper Tongue and Jaw release: As you do your singing exercises, you will concentrate on opening your mouth naturally without tension in a relaxed manner. Also your tongue should be relaxed as well. Singing a five note pattern on “Ma” your tongue should just lay relaxed and flat, your mouth should open naturally not to big, and there should be no shaking in the tongue or jaw. This is the goal. Your singing exercises are a simple short vessel to get you working on that goal.
3. Breath support- Between each singing exercise you need to breath. Breathing properly is not a gasp with the chest rising, but rather a low inhalation which expands your back rib cage and lower abdomen. You let your air in, never grab it in. In singing exercise you get to practice this over and over between each starting note. (I have great breathing exercises in my first CD of Voice Lessons To GO v.1 Vocalize and Breath.)
4. Posture/body strength: Standing in front of a mirror is a great way to do your singing exercises. This gives you an opportunity to see what you are doing and what you look like to other people when you sing. Concentrate on the proper use of your tongue and jaw as well as your posture.
You should look strong like a fighter. Knees a bit bent but heavy, chest tall and broad, face and chin natural and free. Your body should remain this way throughout your singing exercises whether in your high or low range. No lifting of the chin to reach a high note. Watch your hands, they should fall naturally at your side but with purpose. Your eyes should be bright. Your facial expressions should not be skewed or over the top. Overall you want to look appealing to your audience. Any odd movements, faces, or quirks will make you stand out for the wrong reasons.- Use the simplicity of these singing exercises to concentrate on your posture.
Your body needs to be strong and “on alert” to support your voice. You should have a certain amount of tension in your legs and lower abdominal muscles so that your voice can release freely and supported. Your body strength should kick in properly for your higher notes. The tension should never be in the voice but rather the body. If you put the tension into your vocal muscles and you will cause bad vocal habits and unhealthy singing.
5. Developing your range- Every singing exercise is based on a simple melody put to simple vowels that repeat on different starting notes that ascend and descend on the piano keyboard. You should never strain your voice to hit notes at the ends of your register. But you can challenge yourself to reach further with proper support and healthy technique. If there is any strain, stop. There is no such thing in singing, (as opposed to regular physical exercise), of “singing through the pain to get results”. Pain, causes vocal trauma FOR SURE. You continue the vocal trauma you could create long lasting injuries. Always sing in your range and work to stretch it in both directions as your stamina and strength develop in your singing exercises.
6. Singing exercises warm up your voice to prepare you for great singing- Just like any athlete would stretch and start slow before entering a run, your singing exercises when started slow, easily, and properly will warm up your proper muscles for good singing and technique.
7. Singing exercises are a great work out for your voice which build stamina- You start slowly in your vocal warm up but as you continue in your singing exercises you can stretch yourself through speed, range, and difficulty. (v.4 Stamina- a real work out for your voice!)
8. Singing exercises build proper technique- Like with your vowel production, all singing issues can be worked on through specific singing exercises such as vibrato, vocal timbre, trills, runs, wide range leaps, staccato singing, legato, dynamics (soft or loud singing), phrasing, and vocal beauty, (belle canto).
9. Singing exercises develop your musicianship- Singing through different simple and complicated patterns with ascending and descending starting notes will train your ear to be a better singer. You will learn to sing back new melodies faster, sing with accompaniment on key, and develop your rhythm. My second CD actually concentrates on musicianship and ear training v.2 Do Re Mi Ear and Pitch Training. I actually have you singing your singing exercises in solfege(do, re, mi) on that CD instead of simple ma, la, combinations.
10. Singing exercises will develop discipline. If you want to be a serious singer, you will need a lot of discipline to make it work. It is a hard path that is reliant on you yourself doing the work. Daily (or 3-5 times a week) singing exercises are a great regiment that you should apply to your life. Set the time everyday to do it if you can. Physical exercise, breathing exercises, singing exercises, and song practice need to occur regularly for you if you want to be good and get the jobs. There is no office to go to and check in. Your piano, key board, guitar, or in front of your mirror singing to singing exercises on your IPOD need to be your regular routine for success.
written by Ariella Vaccarino creator of Voice Lessons To Go (singing lessons on CD) and author of Vocalize!
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