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.
WARM-UP Last week I shared a great buildable warm-up for accessing the head (high) voice. Today I want to share one of my favorite exercises for warming up the chest (low) voice. ENJOY!
IPA: [gIda gIda gIda gIda ga] 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 in non-word syllables.
Pronunciation: gidda gidda gidda gidda gah
Note pattern:5432 123454321
WHAT NOTE OR KEY SHOULD I START ON? B or B Flat Major for tenors and sopranos, A Major for baritones and mezzo-sopranos, G Major for basses.
WHEN CAN I USE THIS I primarily use this for men, but it can be used for all voice types. This is a great exercise to use AFTER you have warmed up the high voice. I would not use this exercise with children.
WHAT SKILL DOES IT TEACH? I primarily use this warm-up for the lower chest voice in men. The [g] consonant brings the back of the tongue down, which in turn brings the larynx down because the base of the tongue is attached to the larynx. Sometimes when we sing in head voice, the larynx can get stuck in an elevated position so much so that transitioning into a lower register becomes difficult. Other times, a high larynx can manifest as a shouty tone in men or a shallow sound in women (keep in mind other factors may also cause these qualities, this is just one example). It also teaches a five-note scale.
- Make sure the [g] is voiced. It should have pitch and have a very present sound, not wimpy.
- As men reach the bottom of their chest voice, have them pout their bottom lip, showing teeth. This will help bring clarity to the tone.
- Fun fact: If you put your hand on your larynx very gently and say the consonant [g], you will fee the slight dip in the larynx.
Did you try this exercise? How did it go? Do you have favorite warm-ups? Please share in the comments!