Vocal Exercise Tips

Breath work

Everything we do as singers [and speakers] starts with the breath. The connectedness to this power sets us up for vocal success. Try this routine daily:

  • One-nostril Yoga breathing – 5 reps each side, breathing in one nostril and out the other
  •  Kim Barber‘s exhaling the sound: 3x in through your nose, out through pursed lips; 3x in through your nose, out through semi-vocalized cords; 3x in through your nose, out on a long held “oo”
  • Metronome set at 80, four reps of each: in for 4 beats, out for 4 beats; in for 4, out for 8; in for 4, out for 12
  • Lastly, flop over from the hips, like a rag doll and deeply breathe into your BACK to access this important part of the breath

Then stand centred over your two tripods [big toe, little toe, heel] – and take a long, slow breath in through your nose, opening your mouth at the last moment to top up the tank

Vocal Strength and Recovery

These exercises can be used for strengthening the vocal cords, but also as recovery tools for times of vocal fatigue or stress from illness. Daily use is encouraged.

  • start with lip trills – 3x from your lowest note glissando all the way up to your highest note?. followed by 3x from your highest note glissando down to your lowest note
  • using a narrow straw and a glass that is 1/3 full of water, do long exhales through the straw, keeping the bubbles consistent in the glass then alternate phoning and open exhalation through the straw & finally sing long-held pitches through the straw. Exhaling through an occluded space [the straw] helps the cords decompress, stretch and strengthen
  • sing 5 long-held notes as follows: deep breath in through your nose, using an ?ee? vowel, exhale long-held notes NO LOUDER than mezzo-piano – this is isometric strength training [like plank!]

Videos about the straw technique: Here’s a great “how to” video: on YouTube Here is a more advanced approach from one of the top proponents

Vocal Range

The length of your vocal cords decides your overall range [longer cords get to vibrate slower frequencies: i.e. lower pitches — shorter cords, faster frequencies = higher pitches]

The thickness of your vocal cords decides your overall tone and timbre [thick cords, dramatic voices; thin cords, lyric voices like mine]
Singing “one past your personal beautiful” in both directions every time you warm-up, helps extend and maintain your natural range. HOWEVER, only do so after you have fully warmed up your mid-voice, then start your stretching.

Your “fach” or voice type is determined by these two factors [cord length and thickness] and is demonstrated by the pitch frequencies of your “passaggio” or “gear changes”

When we sing within our natural “fach”, our voices perform at their best, allowing us to sing comfortably for long periods of time without fatigue [as long as you BREATHE well]

When we sing outside our “fach” we experience fatigue, vocal hoarseness [swelling] and even loss of voice! When this happens, STOP singing, use your straw and check in with a voice teacher 🙂