Find Your Voice Session One

Congratulations! It takes follow through to act upon a desire to develop skill in any area in life, and many people never take that step.
Take another look at the hand out as some of the info can take a little while to assimilate. It’s nice to be paying some attention to loosening up your creative side too – and the improvisation/music side gives an opportunity to do that. However, if you’re short on time, you may want to prioritise the song you want to work on and the warm ups.
In your practice, you are aiming for a few different things:
  1. To get a positive association with singing and making sound. You want it to feel good, so that it’s not a chore. Hence giving yourself time to really deliberately go through your body relaxing your head, neck, shoulders, rolling them, squeezing and releasing and allowing your breathing to settle into your abdomen.
  2. To be in a state of exploration. Especially with all the sliding material, you’re aiming to get familiar with the physical sensation of where you feel the vibration, how it feels to release your tongue and your jaw. If you notice creaks or cracks in certain parts of your range, don’t worry about it – allow yourself to make whatever sounds come out. As you get a bit more used to the way the warm ups feel, you may notice different things – that you have tension in your neck, or that you are able to focus more on relaxing your tongue.
  3. It’s always great to play around with the breathy/connected vocals cords too as this builds co-ordination and will eventually allow you to connect the cords with a minimum of effort. You’ll start to get a sense of the cords acting to move together and apart.
  4. To bear in mind that you’re learning how to practice, not just what to practice-so although there are suggested exercises and backing tracks, the habits you’re creating will be useful even later when the focus of what you’re doing has shifted.
The sliding gets your cords into a routine of healthy stretching and flexing, but it’s important that you have enough mental bandwidth to be able to go through the steps of relaxing your face, jaw, tongue, shoulders etc – once you have done this enough times deliberately, it will be much easier to go into a relaxed posture straight away.

Backing Tracks For Session One

Here you can stream the backings for the slides with Ng, lip roll, Aaah-oooh-aah, and the slide where you hold your jaw down; as well as Nay Nay Nay. Only go as far as is comfortable.

NG Slide

Lip roll slide

Aaah oooh aaah slide

Slide backing only for any exercise (including chin hold)

Nay Nay Nay

Find Your Voice Session 2

How to work on a song

This is a method for approaching songs you’d love to sing and actually get them to a point where you know them inside out, have put your own spin on them and can confidently sing them.

  1. Ordinary listening – listen through and get an overview of the song.
  2. Detailed listening to get the structure of the song. Count your way through it to identify when the vocals come in for the first section, whether there are gaps, how long the gaps last, when the other sections of the songs come in and out. Get really confident on this and on the lyrics.
  3. Detailed listening – listen through to see if you can notice some key features. You may need to listen several times to see if and when:m-the singer changes register-the singer varies the intensity or goes louder or softer-the singer changes the quality of their tone from connected to breathy or vice versa-the singer uses ornaments.
  4. Work out if there are any challenges. Does the song have a big leap between notes or go high or low? Sometimes it’s necessary to change the key of a song, but often we can overcome these challenges by working out how best to practice a small section of a song. If necessary, ask for support or get a second opinion on how to approach these challenges, although as time goes on you’ll get better at working out how to do this yourself.
  5. Work on these more challenging sections individually during your practice time. After a few days, ask yourself if they are becoming easier.
  6. Go through the lyrics and decide where you want to increase the intensity of your performance. Try each line out in a few different styles, using a looping software, so you craft each part of your performance.

What NOT to do:

  • Beware of straining during your practice. If something is causing you to strain, pause, and work out why that is and decide how to reduce the strain. Maybe you’re straining from a chest voice coordination when you need to transition to head voice. Maybe you’re backing off a note each time you sing it because you’re not quite certain what the note is.
  • Don’t just sing the song from beginning to end along to the original track, or don’t JUST/ONLY sing it this way. What happens when you do this is that you simply rehearse any mistakes or areas of weakness without ever fixing them., and you can do this fifty times over and still find once you remove the original singer you’re not entirely sure where to come in and what the structure of the song is. It’s not the best way to improve. It’s not that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself singing along to your favourite repertoire, it’s that you shouldn’t only (or mainly) do this.