Singing Lesson 5
Singing is a process. While there are varying degrees of talent, all people
progress in their singing from one step to another. Therefore, be methodical in
your approach to singing. As I mentioned in our last lesson, it’s important to sing for at least 20-30 minutes—five to six days a week.
Singing involves muscles. If you stretch and condition your muscles every
day, you will make steady progress and in a rather short period of time, your
achievements will be considerable. Consistent, daily singing is the key factor in your vocal work.
In this lesson, we’ll build on the "legato and sustained" singing from the last few lessons and then begin working on "breathing".
Warm-up: For the exercises below, you can choose to listen to an audio
- Making sure that you are singing about "medium loud" sustain a single pitch for four seconds on "hee". Go up the scale in 1/2-step intervals for a perfect fifth. Example: If you’re a man start on the C below middle C and sing up to G—If you’re a woman, start on middle C and sing up one octave to G above
middle C. (Listen [ Men | Women ])
- Repeat the exercise on the vowel "ho", going up and down the scale as
noted. (Listen [ Men | Women ])
- Next go to the ascending and descending five-note scale (see #4 in Lesson 4) on "hee" for one octave, up and down. Do not start your five-note scale higher than the "fifth" note of the scale. (Example: G above either low C or middle C) Then do the same exercise on the vowel "ho" using the same pattern
- Now go to the hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy". Sing the hymn unaccompanied using
legato and sustained singing. Sing it through twice: once on "hee" and once on
"ho". Then go to the hymn "Abide with Me" and sing it in the same manner.
- Now sing the two hymns on the vowels "hee" and "ho" with accompaniment. As mentioned in Lesson 4, please! be extremely careful about connecting the vowels in both hymns. If you’re not sure about "sustained" singing repeat lessons #3 and #4. (Holy, Holy, Holy | Abide With Me)
- Finally return to the five-note pattern on "hee". If you a female, perhaps try to sing up to the 6th or seventh note of the scale. (Example: starting on middle C the last five note pattern would begin or A or perhaps B flat. If it seems too high—that is, it is uncomfortable, go no higher than the fifth note of the scale. If you’d like to go higher, then make your last starting note an octave above where you started: From middle C to C above middle C.) If you are a man, stick to G as the highest starting point for your five-note scale. (Listen [ Men | Women ])
The above should become your standard warm-up procedure for the next few
lessons. I’ll vary it slightly, but try to make this your routine".
To set in motion your concept of breathing, do the following:
Lay flat on the floor. (Who said great singing was hard?!!)
Get a rather heavy book and put it on your stomach.
Lay motionless for two-three minutes observing the how the book rises when
you inhale and falls when you exhale.
Stand up, this time with your hands just above your waist. Your fingers
should be close to your stomach and your thumbs should be just below the ribs in
Breath normally—Do not take a BIG breath!
Try to replicate the breathing pattern when you were lying on the floor noticing that when you inhale your mid-section goes out and when you exhale everything goes in. (We’ll get a bit more technical in the future, but for now, let’s keep it simple!)
Breathe in this matter for a minute or so.
Next, on the count of five, slowly blow all the air out of your lungs. With
your stomach "caved in", hold this position for five seconds. Then on a count of five, inhale (push your stomach out!) slowly.
As you do the above exercise, watch yourself carefully in the mirror.
Do not, repeat DO NOT allow your shoulders to move up. This is absolutely
critical in the breathing process. So, be vigilant. NO rising shoulders!(The
key: do not rush the breathing process. Your muscles (and your mind!) need time
to be conditioned.)
After you have done the above exercise several times, watching yourself in the mirror, try repeating the exercise walking slowly—but don’t
allow the shoulders to move.
Next, eliminate the counting, but breathe in and out very slowly
using the same method as above. Watch yourself in the mirror. This will take
time, but be patient—and keep practicing. (When it comes to raising your shoulders, you must be extra careful!)
Finally, return to your exercises. Sing through them, this time being
vigilant about your breathing process. Using your mirror as your "teacher", you
will find that your muscles will adapt within a few days to this new technique.
If you want to get ahead, then sing through the hymns, unaccompanied, using your new breathing technique.
Today’s lesson is rather long, so if you need to divide it up, please do so.
Again, be patient. Good singing is not just for the "talented". Keep in mind, God wants you to sing. So, keep practicing and happy singing!