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Voice Lessons & Practice

Singing is primarily controlled by the inhalation and exhalation of breath over the singing organs. Without proper, conscious management of the breath, then you would not properly learn how to sing.

If you start practicing singing without practicing breathing, you could become frustrated or even injure your vocal chords. Or, you might be gifted at singing and do it well, but you'll never learn the 'how' or 'why' behind what you are doing. And, without this knowledge, you will never know what you should do, or how you should monitor your own singing progression so that you may improve. So, no matter what 'voice' has been bestowed upon you, it is essential that you learn the mechanics and reasons behind singing.

Now, in the previous lesson we talked about how you could lie down and monitor your own breath - how you can feel the expansion in your belly, back, and chest. Hopefully, you are doing these exercises daily and perhaps you are even implementing the latter exercise that discussed trying to keep a constant sound as you controlled your breath.

Once you have gotten a couple of these exercises down, it is important that you always maintain control over your breath. One way to consciously do that is as you breathe out; imagine you are causing a table-tennis (ping-pong) ball to hover directly over your mouth. If you have a table-tennis ball, then go ahead and use it! In any regard, you will want the table-tennis ball to remain hovering on your breath. If you breathe too hard, the ball will fall to the side. And, if you don't breathe constantly enough, the ball will not float. This is analogous to what you should be focusing on as you practice your breathing exercises. Mentally, or physically, keep the breath constant, light, and controlled.

Exercise with Notes & Pitches:

In the aforementioned lesson, we discussed how you could lie down on your back and attempt to hold a constant note over a period where you counted. This exercise is quite similar, but this time, you are going to practice changing the note so that you can attempt to use your 'constant flow' of breath to maintain a certain pitch over a small period.

Begin after you have done a set of breathing exercises on your back and counting but without creating a sound (as in the previous lesson). This will give you a proper 'warm-up'.

  1. As you breathe outward, pick a note that falls within your normal voice range. This will not create too much stress.
  2. Now, with this note, simply hold it, as you would with the last lesson's exercises. Do this five times.
  3. Now, as you do three to five more of these, attempt to change the volume of each note from low, to medium, to high, and back down to medium and then low again. This should be done gradually, and not forcefully. It should also be done for each exhalation, or for each constant flow of breath that you are releasing. The rate of release should not be changed.
  4. Finally, as you keep to the above directions, you can vary the volume of your voice; gradually chant out the vowels of the alphabet. Now, you are learning to combine control of breath, volume and pitch while adding your voice into the mixture.

All of these above factors will come in quite handy now that you have monitored them separately. Practice this daily as a part of your singing exercise routine. Always remember that a good singing voice can be created when these variables are matched and placed so that a resulting constant and controlled sound is produced. You, as a beginning singer have an advantage because you are starting from the ground up; meaning, you will learn to control all of the separate elements that combine to make a fine singing voice. If you ever find yourself in a singing predicament, then you will easily be able to run through each of the factors separately to find out which one needs to be honed or adjusted so that your resulting voice is anything short of perfect!

Light Breathing Expanded:

Also, in the previous lesson, we talked about how you could feel your breath fill up each of your internal cavities and how the expansion of breath worked. This next exercise has a similar goal - to give you a better understanding, and thereby better control, of how your breath is working to help you sing better.

Start out as you did before: lying on your back on a supporting, comfortable surface, such as a yoga mat. This exercise takes eight to ten minutes and is often implemented in singing course workshops.

  1. Lie down and bring your knees up. As you do so, your feet should be flat on the ground and spread apart at a comfortable distance.
  2. After you place your feet in a comfortable position, try bringing your pelvis up off of the ground. If you are having trouble or if it is not comfortable, try re-arranging the placement of your feet so that you are not uncomfortable when lifting your pelvis.
  3. As you lift your pelvis, do not attempt to control your breathing.
  4. Now, as you breathe, hum a constant pitch with every exhalation and feel how your breathing is affected. Breathe inward as deep or a long as you feel necessary.
  5. Stand up on your mat. Take your time. You don't want to become dizzy. Give the blood time to circulate again.
  6. Now breathe and hum in the same method. Feel the difference of lying down and using your pelvis and back area as you try to control the sound you produce. When you sing upright, this shows you what areas that your voice is emitted from - from the lowest pelvic region all the way up to your head.

When you sing, it is important to not take this above exercise to the point where you are pushing your pelvis out and over arching your back during a singing session. This is not not good form, nor will it help the mechanics of your voice. The above exercise it meant to show you where your voice originates and how it can be better controlled.

As you do the above exercise, you should feel the management of the lower abdominal muscles and how they affect your diaphragm. This connection with the lower part of the pelvis should be felt through the above exercises, but should not be used as a method of singing upright. What you want to do is to exercise that area in order to gain more control over the lower basin of your body. When singing upright, you should not distort your natural posture, other than by making sure that you have a nice, straight stance that will allow you to better manage the breath and ultimately the voice that you are releasing.

In the next lesson, we will talk more about breathing and will expand to begin talking about how you should place your tongue to create a furrow for different vocal ranges and using your voice to practice singing in key.