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View Full Version : Exercises for Voice: Strength, Range, Flexibility


Merkaba
11-18-2004, 04:12 AM
Ok. I decided to post some stuff about helping build strength and range and flexibility. Its 430 in the morn so im gonna try to sweep this rather quickly....but knowing me, it will be a bit winded.

First off you must understand that there is only so much your cords can produce at their current level. YOu have to accept your limits. Kill your ego now. Just take in the fact that you are where you need to be. Now, also realize that your cords are small and thin. and composed of muscle tissue, memberanes , ligaments and cartilage.

We've been over the idea of staying hyrdrated and proper nutrition when it comes to your cords. If you wanted to be a world class runner you wouldnt eat red meat everyday, smoke and drink alot, drink soda everyday, and eat candy bars everyday. Now scroll back up and remind yourself that your legs seemed to be mysteriously composed of the same things! wah?! No way!

Warm up. You know this by now. YOu cant run your fastest 100 meter time without warming up.
All advice here is based on the idea that you already know about keeping a relaxed open throat and larynx. Remember that you should be thinking first of form and dont worry as much about the sound. So i wont keep repeating this idea.

A general goal in vocal quality is to be able to hit any vowel on every note of your range and at all volumes. Range depends alot on Flexibility, which stems alot from isolation. So some of these exercises seem simple, especially when they dont involve alot of push. but these are still integral.

1. Do vowels. Ay, ee, I, oh, uu, ahh. use the robot blank face isolation style. Try to move only your lower jaw and lips, if anything needs to move to shape the sound. Feel your internal muscles making the sounds. start with a moderate volume. Run all the vowels together like a chant and after a few times, raise the pitch. You want to stay on the same pitch and stay on the same volume. When starting at higher pitches,you still want to be relaxed and have the same feeling when you make the vowels. Go all the way up through falsetto.

2. Do scales. Like a five note major scale going up. start off on a moderate note and volume. after a few runs, raise the starting pitch. you want your volume to stay the same throughout this whole exercise. Doing so will help with isolating the pitch muscles from the volume/thickening muscles. The cords thicken when you go louder and are pulled thinner when you go higher. so if you want to go higher and louder, then you can see where this starts to counter affect one another.

3. Portamento. Start on a moderate level OO. Drop your jaw a bit and pucker a little so your lips make an O as well. LIke a typical opera style singer, like you're singing "swing LOWWW..sweet chariot..." Slide this note down slowly and when you get to the bottom slip it into an AH. You'll really have to open up to get that low ah. Keep your lips and face the same. Continue, starting on a higher pitch each time and not changing the volume. Yes it will get longer as you go. Thats the point. And you go slow. slow. This means breath control. keep the same volume as well. Feeling brave or need lung capacity work? return back up after holding the bottom ah for a second. turn it back into an OH and rise back up, keeping the same volume and face. Youll figure out a good volume because you will not be able to do this slowly with a loud volume. But over time you can increase it all.

4. Staccato. (broken) Do quick "ha"'s like four or five in a row. staccato, so its broken. like four seperate hand claps. If you put your hand on your stomach it shouldnt tense. you may have to adjust the pitch for this to happen. You should just feel like youre exhaling and returning to a normal breah. If you cant do it without tensing the stomach you can do what my coach says. Jump up and down while doing the ha. You can also do a staccato scale. Over time go up in starting pitch. Notice where your note quality starts to deteriorate. also do staccatoo De's

5. Hold a brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr sound like a boat or hoarse or car, for a whole breathe exahale. Try it holding a note, and then doing melodies. The idea is to keep the lip buzz the same. Then do the same with zzzzz . like a bee. then do staccato ze melodies. ze ze ze ze ze....going up and down scales in a staccato.

6. Glissando. A slide on a pitch. Start an EE in you highest falsetto and slide down through your break into head and down into your lowes chest. Do them going up as well. When going up you can work to feel the break as you go into falsetto and try to keep the cords from opening up. stay in head as you go up, try not to let the falsetto happen. your quality will go to hell , but dont push harder or strain. Remember if youre having trouble around a break it will take some time to get the feel for the proper amount of air that is needed. it will change as you go from falsetto to head and vice versa. keep that in mind.

7.to top off, Do loud and hard ha's HAH! ....HAH! at a normal pitch(not too hight) with a ton of push. You will have to find the optimal space so your throat is open and th sound is clear. you want the Ah vowel to be crisp and clean. not over blown. But it should be pushed as hard as you can while still getting a crisp vowel sound. The H sound is the dumbbell for the cords. The air is already passing through and when you clamp shut to make the vowel you are resiting more air than you would normally have to sing behind. Work mostly loud HAh's But also do all vowels. but be careful with E's. and go up in pitch. as you go up you will have to go down in push to get a good sound. This is when you want good sound. Do these at the end of the workout or your rehearsal or whatever. work to get them hard and loud and clear. If i know it is the end of my work i will do them alot until the quality deteriorates. Use rest in between sets so to speak. Do a few sets of thirty at least. For me i do lthem, then do normal ow pitched EE's for a few moments to bring the cords back to normalness again, then do more. The muscles that pull shut against this resistance have to pull harder to hold that pitch. over time you get stronger which helps you can pull further than you would before, resulting in more power and range. If you want to go past your current highest, then you want to work alot with your current highest pitch. Visit it alot and often. People think that this is solely how you get range but its not really. At a higher pitch your cords are thinner and they cant take alot of pressure and remain closed, so the muscles dont work as much. Youre not developing the muscles and tissue as much because they fatigue alot quicker. Work alot of chest and mid voice hard forceful notes, this will help buld up the force with which you can hold a note. this means your force of pulling the cords closed at a current pitch and volume gets greater, which spills over into more for the next higher pitch and volume.

Its a long read. But even all of this shouldnt take too long. no more than a good 15 to 20 minutes. if it doesnt even make it to that then youre not doing it enough. I would recommend you do it after rehearsal or whatever, or the last thing you do vocally for the day. And you dont have to do it all. But you do have to work the cords if you want them to respond. So if you continually consider yourself as not having the time, then your instrument wont grow much. I recommend very forceful work at least three times a week, and moderate work in between. especially a lot of head(no thats not a joke) head voice that is. Again. pay attention to form. I cant stress it enough.

Of course if youre smart you will warm down after doing anything of this nature.
To put it simply. Sart at your highest falsetto...moderate push and slide down to your lowest chest. Do this on all vowels for a at least five times each. Do it with E's last and do more of them. Dont worry about the sound, and dont push hard. YOure not singing anymore. I continue to do low ee's for a minute or too, just hold them as low as you can with good quality. then do moderate ee's whenver i get a chance for the rest of the night. Its important to not just shut up. If youre going to a friends house and you'll be talking, thats better than just going straight to bed. I live by myself so thats why I'll usually keep vocalizing at least for a few minutes afterwards.

I hope this helps. Rememeber,all of this still should be comfortable. Never tense up. And no pain.

luciferchrist
11-18-2004, 07:52 AM
Awesome post as usually Merkaba-1

I have been doing most of those exercises, but some are actually new to me, and I will throw them in with my other exercises tonight.

I have been busy as hell with work, school, and music, so I haven't been posting much. I am getting a good 2-3 hours a night in for practing my singing, and I am already building up a good repertoire of acoustic/singing material. Seeing so much results! It's funny because my guitar playing has come to a halt in the past couple weeks, and all I do is sing with my acoustic now. I haven't made beats or anything. I love learning new instruments, and I never really thought of my voice as an instrument untill recently, which makes me want to practice all the time lol. Thanks as usual....

:chug:

Merkaba
11-19-2004, 12:15 AM
Youre welcome.
Yea, the voice is the only instrument i can play decently. Hehe.

whiskeyinthejar
08-12-2005, 08:52 PM
Hey merkaba-1 awesome threads i want to thank you for your help I have gotten better at rasp and screaming and can scream for a while now. And use rasp without problems. I have been taking voices lessons for a while now hasn't help as much I would have liked. The guy just keeps focusing on that Im a bass and thats it. I would like to be able to sing high like Maynard from Tool. The notes I want to sing are the chorus in Man in the Box by Alice in Chains. When I get close to hitting the notes my voice started to screech so I stopped trying. are there any exercises that i can do that would help me sing these higher notes? I have done the excercises you have posted but Im not sure how to make them expand my range. Thank you in advance.

Thanks

whiskeyinthejar
08-12-2005, 08:52 PM
Hey merkaba-1 awesome threads i want to thank you for your help I have gotten better at rasp and screaming and can scream for a while now. And use rasp without problems. I have been taking voices lessons for a while now hasn't help as much I would have liked. The guy just keeps focusing on that Im a bass and thats it. I would like to be able to sing high like Maynard from Tool. The notes I want to sing are the chorus in Man in the Box by Alice in Chains. When I get close to hitting the notes my voice started to screech so I stopped trying. are there any exercises that i can do that would help me sing these higher notes? I have done the excercises you have posted but Im not sure how to make them expand my range. Thank you in advance.

Thanks

whiskeyinthejar
08-12-2005, 08:53 PM
sorry about the double post, computer skips

Merkaba
08-14-2005, 07:44 AM
Well I tell ya...if your teacher says youre a bass..youre probably a bass. If he wants to take the classical approach and only train you in that area thats him and if you want you just may need to look elsewhere. Some teachers just dont see the point in learning to sing out of your current range. YOure should work alot in your falsetto and trying to close up your lowest falsetto notes to true voice or to get some resonance on them. Post a sample if you can.
Maynard is one of my faves.
And I take it you can do the verses pretty well in the AIC Man in the Box? If youre a bass it should fit perfectly seems like. Be sure youre not tensing your throat when you go up. I dont see why a bass couldnt be able to sing that chorus.

ÆnemÆ
08-16-2005, 02:39 AM
do you know if creatine would effect singing, in either good or bad way

im thinking about taking it for football

Merkaba
08-16-2005, 05:55 AM
I cycle it from time to time being a partial fitness freak. I would say that for me...it seems to do neither...but If i had to lean either way I would say it helped. I made gains while I was on it last...but I always seem to make gains over time so it may have nothing to do with it. The muscle fiber is just not the same as striated "workout" muscles. Some people get dehydrated from it because it makes you retain water. I wouldnt worry about it either way....good or bad.

waronpeace
08-19-2005, 01:54 AM
which one of these exercises or maybe one you havent mentioned would be best just for strength and being able to sing with out having to take as many breaths, btw your insight has been ****ing awesome.

Merkaba
08-19-2005, 07:12 AM
That would be based on a number of things that just come from practice and they all tie in together. Notably, lung capacity of course. That can come with alot of aerobic exercise.

You also need the ability to control your diaphragm's exhale and your cords so that you know how to keep the air flowing constantly and evenly while keeping the cords where you want them for tone, THis becomes more challenging with a big deep breath, and then to keep that even as you reach the end of your tank, and squeeze the air out while not tensing up the throat. So holding a note isnt so much about strength to me... To sing without taking so many breaths depends on your style too. If you sing hard blasts alot then of course its just natural to breathe more. No way around it.

Strength to me is more about volume and tone. To get both you need strength. The Hah exercise is good...but I just prefer to warm up well and sing alot of songs that have hard aggresive singing in it and just singing it harder than I need to. Then at the end I might do some Hah's. And make sure youre not squeezing anything, and be sure to warm down when youre trying to gain strength or doing alot of aggresive stuff. Its just necessary for longevity as far as I'm concerned.
Just keep working and be sure to remember that its the sound thats important when it comes to this stuff and you wont get the best sound by repeatedly trying to sing near 100% push. Learn to get what you want easier and be sure to keep the throat relaxed.

Kirk's Puppet
08-23-2005, 04:33 AM
Great thread mate.

I'm still trying to get that "Singing from diaphragm" thing. But the Page 5 explanation is pretty good for me to start off. Btw, how should I know if I'm singing from my throat?

Merkaba
08-23-2005, 07:00 AM
Thats just the general term for when you block off your airflow and create pressure imbalance by squeezing and tensing your larynx up. If youre singing from your throat you wont be able to hold notes for long, Your quality will diminish quickly,and it wont be comfortable. You'll probably be prone to get hoarse and have pain afterwards.

Det_Nosnip
01-14-2007, 09:43 PM
I apologize if this has been clarified elsewhere, but when you say "start from a higher pitch" when running up scales, do you mean "within the given key," or do you mean to change keys altogether?

e.g. start on c major...CDEFG

Up to D...DEFGA

OR

Start on Cmaj.....CDEFG

Up to Dmaj...DEF#GA, etc.