The following exercises are suitable for advanced or professional singers but they cannot replace the work with piano or vocals.
When we start our singing exercises we can complete a big part of the work before we have sung a single tone. Our physical condition is of great importance. I often repeat to my students” Relax, breathe, concentrate”. Every muscle is involved in the process- some more others less. That is why we need to know our bodies well. Then we will be able to control every note, every breath and process. It is important to be observant, to understand what is happening with you, what is the feeling while doing the exercise.
Let’s start with the upper part of the body. The muscles of your neck and jaw should be relaxed. Pressure there is needless. The face should be calm. Neither smiled, nor frowning. As if we are meditating. Relax….Relax….
To sing a particular tone with certain effects we sometimes have to smile or open the mouth wide. This you can learn by observing yourself while singing, too. Unless you try different things you won’t understand what works for you.
Start moving your neck and shoulders to release the pressure. Gymnastics is a great way to prepare for singing. Just start moving, ease the muscles and then you are ready for singing. Always breathe with your diaphragm- slowly, easy while preparing for singing. This you must do even if you are not a singer or an actor. One common mistake is to raise your chin. That is an unusual position for the larynx.
No, we are not bored! This is a key word for the singer. Yawning is the best example of that how you must feel while singing, especially in the high register. The action itself gives freedom of the whole face and you even feel wonderful easiness inside the brain pan.
Back again to our feelings. What is the feeling while you are yawning? What happens in your body?
You receive some fresh air that first cools your blood and then the brain. After long mental work yawning supplies the body with oxygen and revitalizes it. Yawning is one of the so called unconditional reflexes. We simply can do it.
The head gets filled with air that you can feel at the end of your palate, in the eyes and the forehead. As if the air is ready to jump out of your head. There, where the tongue and the feeling when the air raises to the brain (figuratively said) are, this is the round and free position we want to achieve. You can easily sing a high tone by following the yawning rule. I hope I made myself clear. Yawning can also help when you are under pressure or stressed before a concert for example.
Did you know that….?
Some doctrines say that yawning is a way of accepting energy and helps energy exchange. Yawning is accompanied with certain sounds – unique for every person. According to Peter Danov yawning is a lack of energy and when we breathe we get prana ( energy).
Making of various grimaces: putting out your tongue, moving the jaw forwards and backwards, swelling out the cheeks, lip rolling ( super useful for all jobs on stage and in front of audience !!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhMH522kqAg Celine is a master. See 8. 20 minute) Hissing (SSSSSSSS, Hsssssssss).
All these in the name of music J. While preparing maybe you better avoid people and stay alone J. Here we use the sounds sssss or hssss to practice the air control. The consonants T and R for example you may use to move the lips and the tongue. This is also a great exercise for clear speech and better diction.
When I say to relax and stay calm this is only for the upper part of the body (head, face, shoulders). The centers of pressure are the solar plexus and the pelvis. In this middle part of the body is situated the diaphragm. So if this part of your body is relaxed like after a rich meal, what kind of singing we talk about….? Maybe you should show me!
While singing pressure goes down in the stomach and the diaphragm. And this is not a mistake. Air is the master. You are the master. This is your support. Pressure should exist there- all the time.
To get this feeling you may perform some of the following exercises:
1. Hiccupping – so you can get a clear image of where exactly the diaphragm is. It is a muscle and it contracts when we hiccup.
2. Coughing – the feeling you have in the lower part of the body when you cough is the feeling you must have when you sing.
When we sing a hurricane of air goes through the body, and then it goes out and goes back. Some simple exercises to control the air are: holding the air as long as you can, singing one tone as long as you can.
You can try to “smell a flower” or to “blow a candle” in order to blow it out. But we will talk about AIR some other time.
A lot of things come to my mind but I want to give you the chance to try these at home. This topic will be continued for sure.
translated in English by Zlatina Zlatanova