A NEW PAGE FOR VOCAL CURRICULUM!
1. Physical Relaxation
Begin by rolling the head from side to side, 'chin on chest style.'
Turn the head all the way to the left, slowly, feel the stretch. Then to the right, slowly,
feel the stretch. Repeat. I found a rhythm works well.
'Look all the way to the left (bum-bum)'
'Look all the way to the right (bum-bum). Speak softly.
'Scrunch the face - deer in the headlights' releases tension, and anxiety.
Screw up the face as tightly as possible. . . tighter, tighter, then big surprise!
Open the face wide, placing hands on each side of the head, as well. Use the whole
body - bent over for scrunching, hunched shoulders, hands in tight fists,
Then wide open and upright for 'deer in the headlights' position, mouth opens,
eyebrows up, etc.
Shake out hands, arms and head.
Shrug shoulders forward, in circles, about 7 times, reverse directions. Then shrug
shoulders in alternation, first forward a few times, then back a few times. You can add
a body movement as well. Bend forward for forward shrugs, bring body to standing
position for backward shrugs.
Stand on one foot, draw circles with opposite foot. Repeat on other side.
If you have trouble standing on one foot, fix your gaze on
one spot in front of you. Be patient. This is fun!
Shake out the feet and legs.
You just shook out the feet, so. . . .
Begin with the feet under the shoulders.
Bend over at the waist. As far as possible. Relax. Let the arms hang. Let the head
hang. Breathe. Three easy breaths. Now, slowly 'roll back up,' as though you are
stacking your vertebrae one on top of the other as you go,
until you are standing upright again. Reach up with one arm and 'pull the head
up with an invisible string.' The head is high and light, shoulders floating over the
ribcage. Chest is high and open, and everything is light and straight.
Knees should not be locked. Ankles relaxed. Smile!
Repeat the bending over and rolling up exercise.
From here, you can go into warm ups and vocalizing.
2. LEGATO SINGING
Legato is an Italian musical term which means 'long and connected.' When we sing
in a legato style we are singing vocal lines that sound smooth and (usually) sweet. This week
and next week's warmups are stressing legato singing.
Make sure you breathe properly! Take in enough air to finish a whole phrase.
Concentrate on long even tones as you push air from your diaphragm. Concentrate on blending with
your neighbor, as opposed to being 'the soloist in the group' and sticking out.
'Purring on pitch' is one of the very best warm ups you can do. Purring is actually a
bit better than buzzing lips for a number of reasons. Both encourage proper breathing. Both
stretch the vocal range. But purring comes from inside (rather than outside) the head, and that's
good for resonance.
Purring is a bit more musical and versatile than buzzing lips. Purring will help you
extend your ability ro sing long phrases without running out of air. Also, like buzzing lips,
purring does not harm your voice, as you must be relaxed to do it.
Here's a trick. If you are having difficulty singing a passage of muisc, or a line in a
song, try singing the whole thing with no words, using purring instead. Do this every day, until
the passage is easier for you. You'll find this works very well.
Can't purr? Keep trying every day! A few minutes, anyway. . . For some people,
purring is not that easy. Most people do it by placing the tongue on the roof of your mouth, just
behind the teeth. Then push air through that passage (between the tongue and the rrof of your
mouth.) The tongue will vibrate and make a purring sound, similar to a cat's purr. If you cannot
get it yet, do not be discouraged. KEEP TRYING. Many students this year have found success after
one day, or even six weeks. The key is to keep trying.
4. 'BUZZING LIPS'
The BUZZING LIPS warmup used to be my favorite warmup. I used to say in class
that if I had to take just one warmup to a desert island and do only that warmup forever, this is
First of all, it's an easy warmup to do, so people relate to it. The sound we make in
that warmup is one we have been making since the first few days we were born. Think about it. . .
People find humor in making this sound - do you remember anyone laughing in class?
Most inportantly, this warmup links your breathing correctly. People say 'from the
diaphragm' but do you really know what that means? This warmup REQUIRES support of the
diaphragm, because it is harder to push air through buzzing lips than through open lips. So, (this
is the best part) the natural reflex of the body is to 'push a bit harder' and that requires the use
of the diaphram. Nothing to think about, just do the warmup, and you paractice good breathing for
singing. As you sit there, at your computer, breathe in, and buzz your lips. (Please do it right -
with energy!) Do you feel that push down there below your stomach? That's your diaphragm.
This warmup works quickly. So putting it into your warmup routine is not a problem.
You can do this warmup in four minues.
This warmup is portable. It can be used effectively aywhere, even backstage, at low
volume, without a piano or a sound system or other people. This is a great one for staying
warmed-up and stretched when you are in a long show or concert.
This warm up is fun. What do you think?