Find Your Voice Session Seven

Vocal agility is the ability to jump between different notes and land accurately, and also to be able to do trills and runs. It works out the vocal cords to be able to target notes you want to land on accurately. As you are now well aware, accuracy with pitch is your vocal cords contracting or extending by the right amount – like aiming for a spot on the floor to jump to. The first time, you may overshoot or land short, but if you get used to how far to jump to, you’ll land accurately. With practice your co-ordination and accuracy increase, so don’t worry if there’s some wobble or vagueness the first time you do these exercises. You’ll see that the week 6 exercises are still visible-this is because your stamina will be developing and you want to be building up the intensity of the exercises a little compared to the early weeks. The individual exercises don’t take too long so don’t be alarmed.
These exercises are also helpful for developing your freedom to improvise and create melodies with your voice.
1. The first exercise goes up a scale on ‘ah’ going to 123, 1234, 12345, 123456.
2. On an ‘ee’ sound, the pattern for this in terms of notes of the scale is 8-1, 8-3, 8-5, 8.
3. On an ‘o’ sound, the pattern for this is 1 3 5 6.
4. 1-55, 1-44, 1-33, 1-2 on an Oo-Ah sound
5. Ee Ee Hey hey Agility! These are notes 1-5.
In addition to these exercises that use note patterns from the major scale, you can and should eventually incorporate some exercises using other scales. Otherwise you might get really good at major key runs but less confident with minor key runs.
The minor pentatonic is very commonly used in pop and rock and it’s good one to include in your practice. Compared to the standard major scale, if we take note 3, and lower it by a semitone, it will become what’s called a minor third instead of a major third. If we lower note 7 by a semitone and leave out notes 2 and 6 instead, we get this series of notes:
1 b3 4 5 b7
This set of notes sounds more melancholic and blues. It creates a subset of notes that will produce a more tense mood. You’ll see that even if you’ve never studied this side of music before, you can instantly tell the difference between how they sound. Now you know why they sound different.
A sequenced pentatonic exercise is provided for you on the web page about developing agility for licks and runs, here. Once you’ve had a few days to get used to these new exercises, include some minor pentatonic material.

Backing Tracks For Session Seven

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

Staccato Ti Ti Ti

Ong siren

Liprolls on a long scale

Descending Ahs

‘AH’ ascending in patterns

Eee -81 83 85 8

‘O’ sound 1 3 5 6

OO – ah

Ee ee hey hey hey agility


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.