Welcome to Vocal Wednesdays!
If you’ve been here before you can skip these beginning paragraphs and jump to the warm-up. If it’s your first time, read on!
Every Wednesday I will share a vocal tip or warm-up. After 17 years of teaching people how to sing I have so many things to talk about and I can’t wait to share them with you every week!
As a voice teacher I am frequently approached and asked for a vocal warm-up for use in a choir or as a soloist. I LOVE warm-ups and think it’s really crucial to use them whenever you are going to sing. It’s an easy step to skip when you are practicing (because who doesn’t want to get to the fun stuff like songs?), but it can also be THE tool that takes you or your choir from average to AHHHMAZING! The trick is knowing which warm-ups you or your choir needs, when to use it and why it works.
That’s A LOT of variables! It’s also the main reason why I don’t like giving a warm-up on the fly. They are most effective when used under the correct circumstances. It’s really difficult for me to explain all these crucial elements in a short amount of time. Hence, the Vocal Wednesdays! Woo-hoo!
Great warm-ups are passed down from teachers to students or teacher to teacher. It’s a lot like story-telling in that way. Teaching voice is both an art and science. Having exercises is one thing, but knowing how to use them is a whole other matter. You will get the most out of your warm-ups if you understand what sorts of techniques or skills it teaches and then use them accordingly. My hope is that Vocal Wednesdays can help you not only find warm-ups you like, but that you learn what skill each warm-up can teach and then be able to use it at the appropriate time.
IPA: [kjaw-kju-ki-di-ki] IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet and is used by singers and teachers of singers to have a standardized guide to pronunciation. For future reference, I will always put IPA in brackets [ ]. I will also include a pronunciation guide of what it sounds like to me in non-word syllables.
Note pattern: do sol mi do do do, 853111
What note or key do you start this warm-up? D Major
WHEN CAN I USE THIS? I use this primarily with women. I use it along with last week’s warm-up. If you wanted it to work well for men change the words to [kju-ju-ka-da-ka]. The [k] consonant is extremely helpful in strengthening the soft palate muscles. Lifting the soft palate will close off the nasal cavity and help get rid of nasality.
WHAT SKILL DOES IT TEACH? Last weeks warm-up was about accessing head voice. This week it’s about bringing the head voice down into the middle voice (for women) or the chest voice (for men). The concept is the same in that the vowels are more open at the top and close as the notes descend (opposite for men). Bringing head voice down is crucial to achieving a unified sound in all registers.
- Be careful not to spend too much time on the glide (y) in ‘Kyaw’. Get right to the vowel.
- If you have a singer that tends to sing too dark, you may want to change the first vowel to [a] instead of [aw].
- Ask for very clear [k]’s.
Did you try this exercise? How did it go? Do you have favorite warm-ups? Please share in the comments!