Singing comes from your heart and is a physical and emotional release. These techniques won’t make a voice. They will, however, unlock the unique and beautiful voice inside you. And as the saying goes, “practice makes perfect”. Check out these 5 practice techniques every vocal student should know below or consider voice lessons in Miami if you want to take your singing to the next level!
Posture and Physical Warm Up
Voice involves usage of the entire body. A singer needs to have proper alignment, and the way they move should be easy and free. If any muscles become constricted, this can stop breath flow and create unnecessary tension. The in-home voice teacher can teach the student student to incorporate many simple and easy stretches. I like to start with the top of my body and work my way down. It is advisable for singers to have a good body map. Learning movement techniques such as the Alexander Technique will greatly help the singer with optimal physical ease.
Diaphragm and Breath Connection
All singers should understand how the diaphragm works. By formal definition, it is a large, dome shaped muscle of respiration located underneath the lungs. When you breathe in, the diaphragm expands and when you exhale it contracts. A simple way to connect to the diaphragm, is to practice lying down. Lay down on a mat, or a comfortable surface and place a book or pillow under the head to your comfort level. The knees may be up or down. While lying down, place a pillow or a book on top of your stomach. Observe the book or pillow. You will notice that when you breathe in, it will rise and as you exhale it will lower. In this supine position the chest will relax. Practice breathing exercises while lying down, such as exhaling on a “ss” sound, humming, and incorporating different pitches. Feel the sound come from the diaphragm, and there should be no feeling in the throat.
Blending of Registers
We discussed body and breath work for singers. But how does the physical mechanism of the voice work? Do you know how many vocal “cords” you have? How many would you guess? 100? 7? 1000? I ask this to students all the time, and I have gotten some interesting answers! We have two vocal cords, and the correct term would be vocal folds.
When you sing a lower note the cords widen, thus creating space. As you sing higher the vocal folds narrow and lengthen. Think of them as strings on a guitar.
How does this knowledge help in connecting the breath? When you sing lower imagine the breath being on the surface. Lower notes are comparable to speaking. Pace your breath! As you get higher imagine the breath is lower and deeper. To create fluidity from low to high registers, I recommend using color visualization. My favorite color is pink. I think of the low notes as a deep robust red, and my highest note as white, when I blend it together in the pallet of my voice, I make different shades of pink. The goal is to have no breaks in sound.
Expansion of Range and the Vocal Workout
In my opinion the vocal “warm up” should be harder than the actual repertoire. This may be a controversial view to some, but this is essential. Everything you need to do in a song, do it in the warm up. A song shouldn’t be higher or lower than you can vocalize. When you vocalize, be fearless, go as high or low as comfortable. If your body is physically comfortable, you can go higher and lower. You will likely dislike the sound at first. Go by how you FEEL. If you feel discomfort then stop.
I love starting with lip trills, or tongue trills to allow the voice to move without pressure on the vocal folds. Follow this with humming for resonance. Next move on to scales, arpeggios, and legato and staccato patterns using different syllable and consonant combinations.
A great way to train the ear is to sing while playing to first hear the pitch and to sing acapella to see how you internalize the pitch. Sing again with the pitch to hear how close you were.
Becoming a Complete Musical Artist
Being a singer means that your soul loves this beautiful form of self expression The voice however has physical limitations. You cannot practice singing every day for 5 hours plus. When I was younger, I hit Mariah notes (or tried to) for hours on end to the point of fatigue.
Part of being an artist is appreciating the path that artists have paved for you. Learn an instrument, how to read music, read books on composers, and study music theory. A professional teacher can help guide you on the musical and creative path. Contact us today to find out more about our music teachers. We offer in-person and virtual music lessons.
By Megan Lipsky