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Things I learned this year taking classical voice lessons.

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srs7593
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Aside from the normal improvement that one sees just from singing a lot, singing with other people and having the opinion of a very open and objective classical teacher who holds a PhD., here is a list of tricks I learned this year that nobody had ever told me that have helped me improve. Trying to do the advanced bridging methods that are talked about on this forum without having an understanding of these things first is, in my opinion and experience, putting the cart before the horse.

Vertical space:

I had learned from previous teachers about lengthening vowels, such as changing "Ah" to a more "Oh" like sound, but it wasn't until I was told to try singing with a finger between my teeth or my hands on the sides of my face that I completely understood what these teachers were getting at. The list of benefits to this is pretty long, but they can include:

-being able to create a louder and more resonant sound with less effort,

-slower, and thus more manageable air,

-more uniformity between vowels,

-an altogether less grating tone.

I don't know why this was never really emphasized with my other singing teachers. Most of them had some classical background.

Open the sinuses while singing:

For me especially, thinking about this helps be maintain a resonant and forward placement. The benefits are similar to those of thinking about vertical space. It also encourages singing in a higher, thinner and more comfortable placement throughout the voice. If there is a fair amount of vertical space in the mouth, this will not lead to an overly nasel sound, even in an "oo" or "ee" vowel shape.

Shaping vowels:

I have a fairly narrow lexicon of vowels that I use these days and do not sing dipthongs anymore unless it's a Johnny Cash song or something similar. These vowels are Ah, eh, ee, Oh and oo. If you had told me this a year or two ago, I would have thought "Ya don't say, Sherlock!" When in reality, I had actually given it very little thought or practice. I really didn't have an Ah, eh, ee, Oh or oo that I could depend on to sound the way I wanted whenever I needed. I didn't notice this until I was made to do longtones on each vowel as well as between them, which I recommend. Search for resonance while doing this.

Phrases:

If you think about an entire phrase instead of pieces of that phrase that are too small to be significant, such as notes, the lines will start sounding like pieces of music instead of groups of notes and syllables. This is always what I tend to harp on when we critique our classmates in performance class, because it was messing me up for a long time. It also gives a singer a very good idea of when and how to breathe, as well as helping a singer to make tasteful dynamic and stylistic choices.

Breathing in vowel shapes:

I literally learned this yesterday. The best start to any passage is a good breath in. It's one of the best things you can do to prepare for a note or passage that is giving you trouble. It also does a lot to clean up note onsets.

On warming up:

I don't have a perfect or consistent warm up routine, but I'm working on it. It will probably be different for every singer. I think a good starting point is a breathing exercise, followed by light falsetto slides and scales, followed by some "ng" humming, followed by some long tones and scales.

Not thinking about any of these things:

Especially by the time a performance comes around, I find that the best thing to think about while singing is either nothing, or anything besides singing. The ease and effortlessness need to be there. The constant meticulousness and tenseness doesn't.

I might edit this and add something, there was one more I thought of that just slipped my mind.

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one of the things i've come to realize is a major asset for a voice teacher to have is a little "street smarts" and a little empathy for the singer.

when i went to frisell, he has this way of saying to you what you're trying to explain even before you tell him.

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Shaping vowels:

I have a fairly narrow lexicon of vowels that I use these days and do not sing dipthongs anymore unless it's a Johnny Cash song or something similar. These vowels are Ah, eh, ee, Oh and oo. If you had told me this a year or two ago, I would have thought "Ya don't say, Sherlock!" When in reality, I had actually given it very little thought or practice. I really didn't have an Ah, eh, ee, Oh or oo that I could depend on to sound the way I wanted whenever I needed. I didn't notice this until I was made to do longtones on each vowel as well as between them, which I recommend. Search for resonance while doing this.

So important. The closer one can get to the italian vowel, the more resonant the singing becomes. American english can be the hardest to sing because of our plethora of dipthongs.

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