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Read regularly about how we do things here at KTB Music.

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By KTB Music, Sep 1 2016 12:25PM

Here at KTB Music, we have an ethos that you must desire to play your instrument rather than practise it. Yes, practising is important; refining technical skill is absolutely imperative for those intending to take their skill further in life and pleasure. But, surely it is more important to find your enjoyment in your instrument. Without enjoyment, your playing may easily become mechanical and soulless.

Build a playing habit into your routine. It might be every day, it might not, but do try and make it regular. Technical phrases are harder to master when they are played less so in order for you to gain the most enjoyment out of your skill, play these harder bits as often as you can. You will soon find they will become easier! If you don’t have time to dedicate playing time every day, then each time you do have time, begin with your hardest technical phrases. Play them once or twice, then treat yourself with a piece you can play and know you will enjoy.

The biggest part of practising is consistency, so whether it is twice a week or seven days a week try to set aside a specific time to play. To be consistent we need to enjoy our playing, as well as feel we are making progress, so split this playing time into working on harder aspects of playing as well as the things you enjoy playing the most. To help see progression in your playing it is a great idea to set both long and short term goals. Your long term goal could be to pass a specific grade in a years’ time, or to be able to play a certain piece that is currently too hard, but one you will eventually be able to play. Short term goals can be anything from learning a new note to being able to play one extra bar in the tune you are working on. They should be goals that you are confident you can achieve in a shorter period of time, so make sure you’re not too ambitious. Limit them to small improvements on whatever you are working on and these will soon add up to a huge improvement in your skill. Short term goals are great for getting that feeling of having achieved something and really helps to reassure yourself that you are making progress. Without these goals it is all too easy to get bogged down; focussing too much on the long term goal and feeling like you’ll never be able to do it at all and you’re not improving. Trust us, we’ve been there! Keep setting simple, short term goals and you will have reached your long term goal before you know it.

Remember: take one small step at a time, stay consistent, and most importantly, just enjoy making music!

By KTB Music, Aug 1 2016 08:00AM

When you have warmed your body up, then it is time to start warming up the muscles you will use when you sing.

If you haven’t read Vocal Warm Up (part one), read it before you carry on reading.

Take a deep breath and come out of it on a long, steady ‘tsss’ sound. Steady being the important word here; this exercise works on your breath being consistent. Do it again, but this time with a ‘shhh’ sound instead of a ‘tsss’. You might find that a little harder. Repeat both sounds a few times.

Next, take a deep breath and instead of one long ‘fff’, make it come out in little, short bursts. ‘Ff’, ‘ff’, ‘ff’, ‘ff’, etc. Do as many strong, short bursts as you can in one breath.

Finally, take a deep breath and count to 4 as you empty your lungs. Count 2 before you breathe in again. Repeat the process and count to 5 this time, then again but count to 6, 7, then 8 and so on. The most important bit of this exercise is the long breath out followed by the 2 counts before you breathe in again. If you go dizzy or start feeling faint or light headed, please sit down and breathe normally for a while. It is very easy to overdo this exercise.

Begin vocalizing by imitating a moped. Form a ‘v’ with your top teeth and bottom lip and sing small low sliding notes to sound like the revving of an engine. As you feel this becoming easier and smoother, get a little higher in pitch. Then back to the lower notes. Next, get e little higher than you did before. Repeat this process until your voice is high up into the rafters and you can really feel it buzzing around your head.

Repeat the whole thing with an ‘ng’ sound instead of a ‘vv’. If you haven’t done an ‘ng’ before, and you think this is all a little crazy, then slowly say the word ‘sing’ out loud. Now say it more slowly, and note the feeling in your mouth at the end of the word before you pronounce your ‘g’. This is the ‘ng’ sound and is one of the best sounds to use while you are warming your voice up.

Now, take your voice as low as it can go and as high as it can go in one great big siren sound – make sure it slides, and make sure it is slow. (You might think this sounds a bit like the character Dory in the film Finding Nemo while she is trying to talk to the whale.) Rather than talking like Dory though, first use your ‘ng’ sound, and then use a ‘woo’. To finish, slide from low to high notes on a ‘ng’ sound, and when you get to the top open the sound into an ‘ee’ sound, holding the note nice and long. Repeat the process breaking into an ‘ah’ and an ‘oo’ sound instead of ‘ee’.

By KTB Music, Jul 4 2016 08:00AM

When you hear someone say “singing” and “warm ups”, the sound of small scales to a “la” might echo in your mind. But warming up shouldn’t start with voice.

Think about which parts of your body you actually use while you’re singing. Voice? Lungs? Are there any others?

In reality you use your entire body. Your feet, legs and pelvis keep you balanced; your abdominal muscles and upper torso are active while you breathe in and out; your arms (besides accentuating the emotions you’re expressing in your song) also keep you balanced; as does your head! Don’t forget about your face either. It may not be keeping you balanced, but it is underestimated how much we use this while we are singing. Do you enjoy a performance about love or joy when the singer looks expressionless? Ultimately, our face is one of the most important things we have to communicate with, and communication and expression is really what singing is all about.

So, how do we warm all of these body parts up?

If you don’t have a lot of time, jogging on the spot is a great way to get your blood pumping to warm your entire system up before you begin vocalizing.

If you have a bit more time, gently swivel each joint round (in both directions). Begin with your ankles, moving up to the knees (not at the same time!), then give your hips a good twist followed by your pelvis. Then your waist, your elbows, wrists and fingers. Give these last few a rub as well – a great way to warm the smaller joints up. When you get to your neck, don’t swivel this around! Tip your left ear towards your left shoulder, and again with the right. Look at the ceiling then look at the floor, resting your chin on your chest. Finally scrunch up your face as though you are really scared then in one swift movement stretch your face out so you look quite surprised – make sure you stretch right to the edge of your eyebrows. Repeat this until you feel alert and ready to run a race or walk on stage as Hamlet.

The final thing to do before you sing is a lovely roll. Reach your hands down to the floor as though you were going to touch your toes. (It doesn’t matter if you can’t actually touch your toes, just imagine you are going to). Next, very slowly, roll your spine up, little by little until you are standing upright. Imagine each little bit in your spine slotting in over the top of each other, as if you were rolling a blind up. The last thing to slot in (still very slowly) is your neck. Raise your head until you find your ‘sweet spot’ (where your chin is not too high and not too low). Give your shoulders a slow roll back and you’re good to go!

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