Find Your Voice Session Two – Breathing

Well done on completing week one and choosing your first solo pieces. The new warm ups for this week are the five finger candle blow out, the 30 seconds of panting for the diaphraghm, mum mum mum, Hmm Ha Ah and EE EE Hey Hey. Make sure you do the Ng, lip rolls, slides first as they are the foundational ones.
If you didn’t get quite as much practice in as you hoped, make sure you prioritise it this week and create the momentum that will get improvement and results for you.
In session two we talked about breathing and maintaining an active rib position when you’re inhaling and when you’re exhaling-so that it doesn’t collapse on the exhale. You’re always aiming for a steady release of air. Very often, feeling concerned about pitch or about the sound that’s going to come out can make you cautious about really letting the air and sound out, but if you hold your breath it’s really much harder to get a consistent sound. Try reading a sentence of a book out loud making sure to release all the air. You may find that it’s unfamiliar – ie not what you usually do, which is a helpful and revealing discovery.
You’re also aiming to consistently feel the vibration at the front of your face. It can take a lot of concentration to do this to start with, although the ng sound and lip rolls will help.
Doing this week’s new material with your back against a wall can prevent you from jutting your chin or neck without noticing; and I’d also recommend trying them lying down – when you’re on your back, you can really release all the muscle effort that would otherwise be holding you upright.
Your third aim is just to get used to hearing your voice in a non-judgemental way. While sliding and practicing, give yourself ultimate permission to make any noise that comes out. Doing all of the exercises will increase the level of control you have, but it’s also great to explore what your voice is capable of in a wider sense and embrace any sound that emerges.
When you do these every day, you become very habituated to the feeling of effortlessly sliding around between pitches and releasing sound and air, and less disconcerted by the sound of your voice.
Doing some improvisation with the tracks from week 1 is also really good for developing your sense of melody and freeing things up.



This week, when you’re singing, if something is proving tricky, ask these questions:

– Where do I feel constricted?
– What vowel or consonant sound is happening?
– What is happening just before in the melody? Is there a jump, or an awkward pause?
Try out these things in this order:
If the note is high, lose the lyrics, vocalise it on a lip roll. If that feels easy, moving to an ooo sound. Listen out for anything that you can hear. Is there an aspirant sound? If so, that means your cords aren’t able to stay connected. A ‘g’ sound can help them remain connected and you’ll be able to hear if this has help as the sound will be clearer. (Make the ‘g’s quick and light and relaxed).
If there is a jump from the note before, see if it’s confusing you moving between registers and slow the movement down, going for the note that’s in the higher register on an ‘Oo’ sound
You can also create a little exercise out of a melodic phrase and step it up one semitone. This is a really brilliant training activity because it helps your voice with muscle memory.

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.