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vocal exercises for improved singing

Sean MacRuaraidh 08 Mar 99 - 06:04 AM
hank 08 Mar 99 - 09:16 AM
Liam's Brother 08 Mar 99 - 09:35 AM
Margo 08 Mar 99 - 11:25 AM
Sean MacRuaraidh 08 Mar 99 - 11:41 AM
Vixen 08 Mar 99 - 01:15 PM
Matthew B. 09 Mar 99 - 09:39 AM
Paul 09 Mar 99 - 09:55 AM
Sean MacRuaraidh 09 Mar 99 - 10:36 AM
Matthew B. 09 Mar 99 - 04:42 PM
Lynny (inactive) 12 Mar 99 - 08:41 AM
Margo 12 Mar 99 - 02:11 PM
Vixen 12 Mar 99 - 03:49 PM
BK 12 Mar 99 - 11:47 PM
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Subject: improved singing
From: Sean MacRuaraidh
Date: 08 Mar 99 - 06:04 AM

Does anyone know any simple voice exercises that will improve my range and stength of voice. These exercises should also be fun or I'll never do them.

Sean MacR.


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: hank
Date: 08 Mar 99 - 09:16 AM

Yes, sing. Join a choir, or theator. Even if you only have spoken parts you will learn to improve your voice in ways that translate to singing. Most churchs have a choir, if you attend one (even if only chrismas and easter) join the choir, and sing in it every sunday. Singing in a group is fun, even if you don't otherwise like the music.

Beware of overdoing it though. You want to improve your voice, not lose it or devolpe nodes.

Finially depending on what you want to sing consider investing in a good microphone and speaker system. Some songs need projection at soft volumns, and those who try to force their voice to do it lose the song. If your voice is natuarlly soft you may have to do this anyway.


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 08 Mar 99 - 09:35 AM

Where do you live, Sean? If you live in Ireland, try to get regularly to one of the Singers' Circles listed on the Nenagh site at
http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Alley/4749/clubslist.html
I am a firm believer that, at the end of the day, the best singing excercise is singing. What's more fun than getting together with a pile of other singers and having a drink?

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Margo
Date: 08 Mar 99 - 11:25 AM

Sean, did you know that it takes less air to sing the high notes? When we were kids we enjoyed blowing up a balloon and then pulling the neck taught, letting air escape to create a whine. The tighter we pulled, the higher the pitch.

It's like your vocal chords. They draw tighter to make the higher "squeak". But you DON'T want to TIGHTEN UP YOUR THROAT! The secret is to tighten your diaphram and all the muscles around your torso.

For maximum air capacity, keep your ribcage up, and let your lungs expand downward. Hint: if your shoulders rise when you're taking a breath you're doing it "wrong". That is to say, you don't get as much air that way.

After drawing a good breath, set the muscles. You've got a good breath, tight muscles down below, yet relaxed in the shoulders, neck and throat.

When singing the high notes, you'll need lot's of muscle push from below; lot's of pressure pushing the air over the taught vocal chords. As you sing lower, you'll need to relax the muscles, and even let more air pass to cause those loose vocal chords to vibrate.

Singing teachers constantly try to describe the whole process with visual images, such as thinking of yourself as a big oak tree, so firm and strong in the trunk, but with branches freely swaying in the breeze.

It's a lot to think about, but after you practice breath control, it becomes second nature. I hope this is what you wanted!

Margarita


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Sean MacRuaraidh
Date: 08 Mar 99 - 11:41 AM

Thanks but ...

infortunately I live in Glasgow at the moment and so cannot easily attend any singing groups in Ireland.

John.


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Vixen
Date: 08 Mar 99 - 01:15 PM

Dear Sean--

At last! An opportunity to answer a question instead of ASK one!!!

Here are the exercises my vocal coach has given me, and they feel so good, I don't have a problem getting me to do them.

1) The Breathing Part: a) lie down on the floor on your back. b) take a deep diaphragmatic breath (your stomach should rise if you're doing it "right" c) hold it in d) let it out e) hold it out f) repeat twice more (total 3 repetitions) g) roll onto side with legs bent, and roll back into a sitting position, legs straight in front, hands behind for support, and keeping your abdomen slack h) repeat the breathing done in steps b-e once i) slowly, stand up, keeping the abdomen slack and repeat b-e two more times. By the time you're standing, you may feel what I call an "energy rush" in your whole body, but you'll feel really soft and relaxed.

2) The Hangover Part: a) let your chin drop down to your clavicles. b) relax and slowly bend forward as if someone were pushing your head toward the floor. let your arms dangle freely and don't lock your knees. stop where you are comfortable c) keeping your chin tucked, slowly nod your head as if being agreeable d) slowly shake your head as if being disagreeable. e) slowly rise back to a vertical stance.

3) The WOWS: a) Yawn a few times b) take a deep diaphragmatic breath c) relax your throat, and in a soft but natural speaking voice repeat the word WOW until you are out of air. You'll probably be surprised at the length of time you can keep saying wow.

What this series of exercises does is change your blood chemistry. The amount of oxygen in your blood goes up, as does the amount of "feel good relaxation" hormones and neurotransmitters. Your breath control will improve dramatically, and without apparent conscious intervention. If you feel your abdomen getting tight as you sing, take a soft, deep breath, and relax it. I know all this relaxation sounds contrary to the "tree trunk" school of thought, but the effect is a voice that can manage significant dynamics within its range.

For range exercises, I have a bunch of pitch perception and production exercises I'll share. All of them produce a feel-good stimulus also, so I don't have to talk me into doing them.

Best of luck,

V


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Matthew B.
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 09:39 AM

One more thing I'd like to add from my own experience: sugar free hard candy.

Forget about mentholated cough drops, and all the so-called throat "soothers" -- what they really do is constrict your throat, and leave you with LESS of a singing voice.

Also, sugar has a tendency to dry up your throat.

When I sing professionally, I introoduce myself as "Matt don't-quit-your-day-job Bram" -- referring to the fact that my voice is no great joy to begin with, so I need all the help I can get. That's why I keep a full supply of candies in my guitar case, available for an instant voice improvement.


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Paul
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 09:55 AM

My father-in-law, who sings in some very impressive choirs gave me some hints after seeing my old band play.

1. Loudly and clearly sing out "Hung-Oh", very slowly, feeling each sound. You will notice that you start singing from the back of your throat (which is what most of us do all of the time). As you get through the "Oh" you will notice that the sound has moved up, through the nose, to the front of your mouth. It will feel like you are almost breathing the "Oh". That is what you want to do all of the time; breathe your lyrics. This will give you better control, and volume, and will give you more range, instantly.

2. Visualize voice bubbles coming out of the top of your head.

OK, so I never knew what in hell he meant with #2, but you'll be surprised at what #1 will instantly do for you.


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Sean MacRuaraidh
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 10:36 AM

Paul, Matthew, Vixen, Margarita and Hank. Thanks for the tips. I will try out all of them and tell you if I get any effect.

Sean


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Matthew B.
Date: 09 Mar 99 - 04:42 PM

And one more thing that really helped me go from crow to nightingale:

1. If you can, try yawning on purpose.

2. While you're doing it, pay attention to the way your throat (right at the back of your tongue) opens up when you do.

3. Now try doing that on purpose.

4. Now try doing that on purpose, while singing.

As soon as you can sing with that opening, you'll hear a major improvement in the sound that comes out. I even knew a woman who deliberately yawned through every note of "Summertime" and it was amazing!


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Lynny (inactive)
Date: 12 Mar 99 - 08:41 AM

Dear Vixen You wrote "For range exercises, I have a bunch of pitch perception and production exercises I'll share. All of them produce a feel-good stimulus also, so I don't have to talk me into doing them". Can you pass them on. I'd be really interested. You can email me at lyn@dartingtonhall.org.uk


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Margo
Date: 12 Mar 99 - 02:11 PM

More about the yawn:

The purpose of the yawn is to raise the soft palatte in the back of the throat. When the soft palatte is raised it helps to direct your vocal sounds towards the areas that resonate the best. You can make your voice resonate in different areas on purpose. For example, you can easily sing through your nose.

If you look in the mirror and raise your soft palatte, you'll notice that your nostrils always flare when you do it successfully. That is a visual que for you.

Also, if you "yawn" while inhaling, you won't get noisy breaths and you can take in a larger volume of air faster!

Margarita


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: Vixen
Date: 12 Mar 99 - 03:49 PM

Dear Lynny-- I thought I'd post this, in case anyone else is interested in these exercises. I've been taking vocal lessons for about 6 months, and I am stunned at the changes the breathing exercises and pitch exercises have wrought in my vocal ability. Do them AFTER the breathing regimen I outlined earlier, and do them IN ORDER! Also, you must be accompanied by an in-tune guitar or piano that can play while you hold your note, so you can correct yourself if you're off.

1) The bottom line: a) hum a couple of tunes you know well and that do not stretch your range, then; b) sing "ahhhhh" on the middle note of your range; c) sing "ahhhh" one third below that; d) sing "ahhhh" one third below that; e) sing "ahhhh" a minor second below the first note; repeat steps c, d, and e descending by minor seconds until you reach the bottom of your range.

2) Raise the Roof: a) sing "ahhhhh" on the middle note of your range; b) sing "ahhhh" one third above that; c) sing "ahhhh" one third above that; e) sing "ahhhh" a minor second above the first note; repeat steps c, d, and e ascending by minor seconds until you reach the top of your range.

For both 1 and 2 above, keep your throat OPEN. Yawn between each note if you have to. Stop BEFORE it feels strained. Do not try for volume--your most comfortable singing voice is all you want here.

3) Find the Pitch: a) pick a note in the bottom half of your range; b) sing the ascending notes at chromatic intervals up one octave alternating with your root note. i.e. "one two" "one two" "one three" "one three" "one four" "one four" "one five" "one six" "one six" "one seven" "one seven" "one one" Repeat in descending order.

Again, keep it open, do it soft and slow and yawn a lot.This one trains your ear to detect intervals and your voice to be more accurate. Again, no volume--just a natural, comfortable power.

4) Get dynamic! a) pick a note in the middle of your range and sing it normally, b) slowly and keeping your throat open, increase your volume, c) slowly and keeping your throat open, decrease your volume to your starting volume, d) stop and yawn, e) sing the note again, f) slowly and keeping your throat open, decrease your volume to a whisper, g) slowly and keeping your throat open, increase your volume to your starting volume. Repeat with two other notes. The general tendency is to go sharp when increasing and flat when decreasing, so feel for accuracy feel what corrections you have to make to ensure accuracy, so your body can reproduce them for you.

5) Ha Ha Ha! a) pick a note in the middle of your range and sing "HA" b) inhale c)sing "HA" d) inhale e) sing "HA" Repeat with two other notes. The objective is to move a lot of air with your diaphragm at an accurate pitch, with a quick, but relaxed and large, diaphragmatic breath. Do not strive for any more volume than your exhale can produce--as the diapragm gets fitter, the volume will increase on its own.

Start to finish, including the breathing, I spend about 20 minutes doing all this stuff before I rehearse or record. I do as much as I can as a warm up before gigs. The payoff is that I can now sing for 2 to 3 hours at a clip, recording or rehearsing, or performing, without getting strained, tight, or hoarse. Or course, I'm not singing like Janis Joplin, either--more like Joni Mitchell.

Mileage may vary, as they say...but I've been amazed at my improvement. My coach is an older gentleman by the name of Charles Frink, and he's incredibly cool. Now if I could just get a regimen for the guitar that works as well....

Good Luck and let me know how you make out!

Vixen

(baker_victor@sirus.commnet.edu)


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Subject: RE: improved singing
From: BK
Date: 12 Mar 99 - 11:47 PM

Great advice; will save & print for my some day use, as I'm grossly untrained. you might also paste these two url's to your browser (don't know how to make them actual links; sometimes the computor just does it automatically)

http://www.bgsm.edu/voice/singing.html http://www.upmc.edu/upmcvoice/dos.html

Cheers, BK


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