I recently taught 3 Effortless Singing Voice Workshops at the 2015 Folk Alliance International Winter Music Camp. One comment I received on my email list sign up/evaluation sheet was:
“Many people have made me do vocalizing exercises before, but they never felt like they were doing me good. Today I could really feel the difference. Thanks!”
I know there are many singing techniques out there and their respective exercises. Lots of singers hate vocal exercises. Effortless singing lessons with me are not JUST about doing the exercises, but rather about warming up with them and then incorporating all of that into the songs. Vocal exercises must have a purpose. Here is my justification for the vocal exercises I use to teach Effortless Singing.
- Vocal exercises warm up the voice. Just as a runner will stretch and warm up the muscles to avoid injury and to achieve a better performance on that first race, the voice needs to be warmed up to avoid injury and to achieve a better performance on that very first song. Just as the runner routinely runs 3- 5 miles in preparation for the one mile race to make that one mile effortless, vocalizing above and below where you normally sing your songs makes singing your songs effortless.
- Songs are made of scales and intervals. ‘Vocalizing’ or practicing singing techniques with intervals and scales (or parts of scales) with accuracy transfers that accuracy right back into the melodies of the songs you sing. Therefore, vocalizing with exercises is only a part of singing practice. Once the voice is warmed up with exercises, sing songs and incorporate what you practiced in the exercises right into the songs! I usually only spend 3-10 minutes warming up students with vocal exercises. Time spent vocalizing depends on how old the student is (younger students can be less cooperative), how warmed up students are when we start, how long they have been singing (novice singers need more instruction through exercises), how long they have been studying Effortless Singing or how much time we have for the lesson. Once we have vocalized, the rest of the lesson time is spent coaching students how to incorporate the techniques into songs they want to sing. If there is a trouble spot in a song, for example singing a particular higher note in a song, and the student vocalized above that note previously, I take the student back to the exercise to remind them of the techniques they used to effortlessly vocalize up to that note. The student is then able to return to the song, incorporate what they did in the exercise, and successfully and effortlessly sing the challenging note.
- Vocal exercises give people the opportunity to practice Effortless Singing Techniques (See previous blog on the P-BOP basics of Effortless Singing Techniques) without having to worry about the words to a song. Part of tone is perfecting the way we sing vowels and songs are made up of vowel sounds but it helps to work on them in an isolated manner in the exercises without having to think about lyrics. The consonants just get flipped off the tip of the tongue (is what I like to say), unless someone wants to sing a consonant like “n” for effect.
- Once the voice is warmed up and the technique is flowing, I encourage students to have the lyrics in front of them while we’re working together on incorporating Effortless Singing Techniques into a song. Trying to remember words while incorporating a new technique can be frustrating no matter how well they know the song.
- The vocal exercises I recommend warm up the voice, loosen up the jaw, encourage connecting the pitches to sing smoother phrases, improve pitch accuracy, provide opportunities to experiment with vowel/tonal placement, provide opportunities for the Effortless Singing techniques to become habit, reinforce the major triad so necessary when learning harmony, help build stamina, increase vocal flexibility (ability to move the voice throughout the singing range), exercise the transition between the lower voice and higher voice, and last but certainly not least, increase vocal range. When a singer only uses the portion of the voice used to sing the songs they write or sing, there is no opportunity to exercise and expand the lower voice or the higher voice, thus limiting the melodies one writes or sings.
In conclusion, the purpose of the vocal exercises I use to teach Effortless Singing techniques is to achieve specific vocal goals, rather than just going through the motions. I’m not talking about hours exercising; just a few minutes! Achieving the goals of the exercises achieves the goal of singing and delivering songs more effectively and effortlessly from the first note out of your mouth.
Effortless Singing with Brenda Freed is a Vocal instruction Course 2 CD set that teaches her Effortless Singing Techniques. This product is available at the Store on www.EffortlessMusicInstruction.com
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