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By KTB Music, Jan 24 2017 10:47AM

Do you know whereabouts in your body your voice is?

Do you know what your voice looks like?

If you gently lay your hand across the front of your neck below your chin, you are touching your larynx, which is home to your voice. Now, as you sing a low note and slowly slide upwards, you should feel movement and vibration underneath your hand. This movement is caused by your larynx which is tilting upwards as you sing higher. Inside your larynx are your vocal folds, suspended across your trachea and as you breathe out they can vibrate together to create a buzz. There’s a great way to see this for yourself by blowing a balloon up and pulling the opening tight while the air comes out to make it squeal. This is a very similar buzz to the one your vocal folds are making.

This buzz then resonates in two directions: down your trachea and upwards into what is known as your vocal tract. This is made up of your throat, mouth and nasal cavities. It is these things combined that make your voice unique and it is this that you must remember. Your voice is completely unique to your body – and everyone’s body is a different shape and size. So when anyone asks you who you sound like, your answer is you! As soon as you try and change your voice to sound like someone else, you may be tensing something which can often lead to habitual tension which in turn, further down the line, may lead to vocal problems. Imitation every now and again is absolutely fine, but not all the time.

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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