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 share 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.
Learning how to sing octaves well can be challenging. Enter today’s warm-up. This octave warm-up will help you bring accuracy and resonance. Sing regularly or use as a warm-up prior to any repertoire that has octaves in it, either way you can’t go wrong. Enjoy!
IPA: [ka mi ka mo ka ha ha ha ha ha]
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: Kah-mee, kah-moh, kah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
Note pattern(s): 81, 81, 854321
Solfege: do do, do do, do sol fa mi re do
***Download Printable Warm-Up Here
WHAT NOTE OR KEY SHOULD I START ON?
I would start in the key of B for a group or basses and altos. For sopranos and tenors you could start on C.
WHEN DO I USE THIS?
- This is a great exercise to learn how to sing the octave leap cleanly.
- The [k] helps lift the soft palate and give a clean start to the sound. It also raises the tongue a little bit which will elevate the tongue slightly for the higher pitch (which is okay as long as it doesn’t get too high, i.e. sounds like choking/straining). The [m] focuses the sound forward as you descend.
- This is also a useful exercise for teaching staccato. Quick short sounds can easily be done with the abs–avoid creating a short sound with the throat.
- Make sure your singer is using a crisp [k]. It should not have any pitch to it, nor should you hear any sliding.
- If your singer is struggling to create a [k] sound in the upper register, have them simply say [k, k, k] before they start sound, then add the pitch–so the exercise would be [k, k, k, breath, ka-mi, etc.]
- Consider adding hand motions. I always think of octaves as yo-yo’s. If they get stuck on the bottom they lose all the fun. Keep it light with energy flowing through it so it can easily go back to the top.
- If you are working with men you may want to change the first vowel to [u]. It will feel easier for them as you ascend into their upper register.
What vocal warm-ups are you using this week? Are you struggling with a technical problem? Write in the comments or message me on Facebook and I’d be happy to help you.