A Little Taste of Heaven

Since I came to know The Lord Jesus at the age of seventeen, my life has been a journey focused on heaven. Though there have been times of trial and hardship, His joy has always brought me through victorious. Along the journey from time to time, He has afforded me the exceeding joy of experiencing a little taste of Heaven here on earth.

Though I am sure that all of these will pale when one day I experience Him in all His glory. But, as I look forward to that I press on eager to share with others His wonderful love for them.

I shall not try to share all of the instances of my tastes of heaven in this blog. But, I shall begin to share. And from time to time I shall share more as our journey continues.

The Beginning

The beginning experience of Jesus coming into my life is truly the apex of encountering heaven. I shall cover that in a blog all to itself, though I doubt that any one blog could suffice.

One thing that seems to be consistent in my encounters with heaven is music. Music became the avenue by which I grew into experiencing a little heaven on earth. I always enjoyed singing, but it was merely the secular songs of the era I grew up in. But, when Jesus took over my life, my taste in music was changed. Not that one particular genre was preferred over another. What became preferred was excellence in music.

Though I had been singing since I could walk, it was just something I did. My mother made me take piano lessons from the second grade through the seventh. But I did it just to please her. Along with those I learned to play the clarinet in the band at school. After the seventh grade, I talked my mother into letting me drop the piano lessons. I still continued to play in the band and sing in the choir at church.

What changed?

Through these experiences, I was exposed to some level of excellence. But, it was not a motivating factor. Then, at the age of seventeen everything changed. I had a life-changing encounter with the living Lord Jesus. Without going into particulars, it was an experience that was as if I was dead and became alive. I had been in darkness and now the light was shining. The scriptures said it best. I became a new creation in Christ Jesus. Old things were gone and everything was brand new.

Now the goal was not just to get by and exist. I was no longer in competition with others. The goal was to show my love for the One Who made it possible for me to live an abundant life. By that, I mean real life. Too often we equate possessions and position with abundance. Real life comes from the source and giver of life. I experienced that and my life would never be as it had been.

The beginningA taste of Heaven

That was my beginning of experiencing heaven. Everything in heaven is excellent. The scripture said it this way: O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is your Name in all the earth. Our Creator is worthy of nothing less than excellence in all that we do. I must admit that I have not attained that level in this life, yet. But, like the apostle Paul, I press on toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Excellence is always the goal, though it is not always attained.

There are some genres of music that do not lend themselves to excellence. I’ll not be the definer of those. I believe they are self-evident. For me, those forms more aligned with classical music were those that promised excellence. So, my desire focused on developing my talent in those areas.

A side note.

Before Jesus came into my life, I wanted to be an athlete. But, when Jesus took over, my goal now was to serve Him eternally. I could not find any area of sports that would allow for an eternity of service to my Savior. But, as I studied the scriptures, I found the vocation that would allow that. Music! In Revelation, we find that there will be continual praise and worship going on in heaven. Yes, I could be part of that, beginning right now and continuing for eternity.

I mentioned earlier that the classical music forms were more conducive to the excellence I sought. That is not to say that some other forms cannot be done in an excellent manner. There are country/western Christian songs that are sung in an excellent manner and some that are not. The areas of spiritual and folk songs have many singers of excellence. A couple of genres that do not tend to excellence are “rock” and jazz. There are a few performers that overcome that mold though.

I believe you can see where I am coming from.

My first taste of musical heaven

A little taste of heaven
Youth Choir

Apart from my “new birth” experience, my first taste of a little bit of heaven” came in the youth choir. Mr. Carroll Lowe was the minister of music at First Baptist Church in Pineville, LA. (I am not promoting any denomination, just telling my story.)

Mr. Lowe, as we all affectionately addressed him, was an excellent musician. He had a pleasing voice, though not necessarily a solo voice. But his real musical talent was as a choir director. He knew how to translate what the composer was seeking to present in his composition.

When the Lord Jesus came into my life, I immediately wanted to join the adult choir. I was a member of the youth choir already. But, the adult choir got to sing every Sunday. Plus, they did excellent music. Every Thursday evening I was in adult choir practice for almost two hours.

A little taste of heaven
Adult Choir

Then on Sunday afternoons, I was in the Youth Choir for an hour.

Under Mr. Lowe’s leadership, I was beginning to experience excellence in singing for my Lord, Jesus.

Gone were the days of wanting to be an athlete. I wanted to sing for my Lord.

For the next two years, we grew in the excellence of serving our Lord.

A great honor

What an honor it was for Mr. Lowe and the Youth Choir ministry when we were invited to sing at a premier gathering of musicians. That gathering was at Glorieta, NM. For a whole week, musicians from Baptist churches all over the nation came together. Of all the churches to choose from, our youth choir from First Baptist in Pineville was chosen. I am sure there were a lot of good programs, but ours was chosen to come.

In preparation for the trip, we had to learn a full concert filled with quality music. On the way to Glorieta, we sang three concerts at other churches. Then, while at Glorieta, we sang our full concert for several thousand people who were in attendance. This is not to brag about our ability. But, the goal was to lift up our Lord Jesus and to do it in an excellent manner.

What joy it was as we experienced the fellowship in our Lord Jesus as we prepared and presented music that was excellent.

We all experienced a little taste of heaven

As we prepared and presented this excellent music, I experienced a little taste of heaven.  As I continued to grow in my music the more I saw why God has planned so much of heaven to be music.  The more I advance in my growth in Christ, the more my joy of excellent music grows.

My hope for you

Excellent music allows us to begin to experience a little bit of heaven right here on earth.  I hope that you have participated in singing or producing excellent music in your life. If you have not produced it, I hope you have an appreciation for excellence in music.

I am reminded of what a great friend of mine once told me.  He had not grown up in an atmosphere of excellence, especially in music.  His taste of music was nowhere near refined.  But, then he came to know the Lord Jesus.  One day on the job, I was playing a CD that had great operatic arias.  This young man was enthralled by the music.  I asked him where he developed a taste for opera with the background he had.  His reply was a joyful confirmation of what Jesus does in one’s life.  He said that when Jesus came into his life he learned to appreciate excellence in things.  And this singer and his songs were excellent.  His love of excellence was translated into every area of his life.

Someday it will not just be a taste but will be the marriage feast of the Lamb.  I am looking forward to it and I am sharing the invitation with as many people as I can.

There will be more “tastes” to come in the coming days.  Come back to this site from time to time.

Here is just a little “taste” of what I experienced as a growing child of God.  This was the prayer song of the Youth Choir of 1965 that went to Glorieta, NM.

PRAYER BEFORE SINGING

      Track 1 - First Baptist Church YC

 

Get Sheet Music at Musicnotes.com

Choral Sheet Music at Musicnotes

Choral and Solo Singing-The Difference

Many think that because one has a good solo voice, he or she will be a good choir member. But, they might be wrong. In this blog, we shall discuss, “Choral and solo singing-the difference.

While participating in a local choral group this week, I was impressed by one of the voices I heard. It came from the tenor section and its location was not easily detected. The voice clearly was that of someone who had studied and was proficient in singing the part.

There was never a time during the rehearsal, when the choir was singing, that it was not heard. I do not say this to criticize the voice, but to make a point. There is a difference between singing as a soloist and singing in a choral group.

The Soloist

Solo Singing voice
Solo Singing

Most people are not aware that there is a difference in the vocal production of a solo singer and a choir singer. But, there is.

The soloist endeavors to produce a voice that makes him or her to be heard above an ensemble or orchestra. This is the way it should be if one is to be a good soloist.

The choral singer

Choir singing
Choral singing voice

On the other hand, the choral singer is almost the opposite. Rather than seeking to stand out above the crowd, he or she seeks to blend in with the crowd.

In the choir situation I mentioned above, this was almost to the extreme in not blending. It was a unique voice but used in the wrong situation.

Vibrato in choral and solo singing

Another characteristic of the solo voice is vibrato. If a soloist has no vibrato it is not long before “boring” sets in for the listener. Vibrato for the solo singer is the same as it is for the violinist. The string player who does not use vibrato tells right off that he or she is a beginner or amateur. A good soloist has just the right amount of vibrato. It may range from 4 to 7 oscillations per second. Good vibrato is a good indication of controlled relaxation and tension working together.

Choral singer and vibrato

Though some vibrato may be tolerated in the choral singer, it is best not used very often. In a sense, the choral singer must have excellent control over his or her vocal instrument. To have too wide a vibrato makes it hard to tune two singers of the same part. To have a fast vibrato makes it impossible to blend voices. An almost straight tone is the best for choral singing.

The 2800 factor in choral and solo singing

There is another factor that must be considered. That factor is what is call the “2800”. This factor is the general area of 2800 cycles per second. The pitch for 2800 would be between the F and F# at the top of the piano keyboard. The exact overtone varies from person to person. But this overtone is what gives “ring” to the voice.

This “ring” enables the singer to cut through the other sounds. It also gives a unique distinction to the voice.

The soloist and “2800”

The soloist strives and practices to develop this particular characteristic. It is necessary when singing over a chorus in operas or oratorios. The “2800” also helps to carry the voice in larger halls or auditoriums.

After developing the freedom and breath support, the soloist then should address the development of ‘the ring”.

The choral singer

When it comes to choral singing, the “2800” factor is a “no-no”. We learned that “2800” is what makes the soloist be able to stand out. It helps to cut through instrumental accompaniment and project to the back of the hall. This is not what we want in a choral singer.

This is what I heard in the rehearsal I referred to earlier. The tenor had a powerful ring (2800) in his voice. The voice could be heard over the whole choir. There is no way for a singer to blend with the other choir members when there is too much ring in the voice.

So, even if you are a trained soloist, you should be trained well enough to know how to cover “ring”. It might be better stated, trained not to produce the “ring”.

How to be a good choral singer

When we begin to learn good singing techniques, we learn vowels. The most open vowels are the “Ah” and the “Oh”. Those that are the most closed are the “ee” and the “i”, as in “it”. We work on “Ah” and “Oh” to get open and full sounds. We work on the “ee”s to get focus or ring in the voice.

It is good to work on both spectra to develop the whole voice. But when it comes to choral singing, we should lean toward the “Ah” end of the spectrum. But we should not be at the end of the spectrum. We should lean toward the “oo” on the other side of “Oh”. The “Ah” has, by its nature, some “ring” in it. By leaning toward the “oo” we cover the hard surfaces(teeth) that reflect that ring in the “Ah”. This will help tone down the “2800” and facilitate the blending of the voices.

How to blend

What is the best approach to produce a choral voice that blends with others? A choral conductor that I knew many years ago used the approach of opening the throat like a “yawn”. Hold that, and sing. Needless to say, it sounded a little odd. But, I believe he was headed in the right direction.

The “yawn” was in the right direction. When you “yawn” you open the throat and pharynx to its maximum. It is practically impossible to get any “ring” in your voice that way. But, it is not practical to sing in that manner.

(As a side note, if you want to hit the high notes that you can’t, try yawning and sing those high notes. You may surprise yourself just how easily you sing them.)

solo and choral singing
A yawn

Rather than assume a full “yawn”, assume the feeling at the beginning of the yawn. This is the time when the throat opens up and the larynx drops. Keep that feeling and sing an “Ah” on any pitch. Feel the openness. Even when you vocalize an “Ah”, you get the feeling of a little “oo”. Work to develop that feeling.

As you develop that sensation of beginning a yawn, you will develop a richer fuller sound. Because of the dropped jaw, it will be harder to “bare the teeth”, thus stifling the “ring”. Hence, it is easier to blend with other singers.

Carryover- Choral and Solo singing

As you develop this technique with the “Ah”, begin to do it with the other vowels. You will find yourself singing with a more open mouth, thus producing richer sounds. Can you imagine just how wonderful that will sound with a whole choir doing that? Then as we all begin to blend, though we are many, we have become one.

We become an instrument to show what Jesus had in mind when He established His church. He does not want to do away with your uniqueness, but He wants us to come together as one, just as He and the Father and the Holy Spirit are One.

Hear, O Israel. The Lord our God, He is One!

For more reading on singing, you can go HERE.

Learn How to Sing

Have you ever asked the question, “Can I learn how to sing?”  Let me help you find an answer to your question.Learn how to sing

Learning how to sing

The answer is very simple, “Yes, you can learn how to sing.”  In fact, it is almost a natural thing for human beings to sing.  If you can speak, you can probably already sing. Speaking and singing are very similar.  The same mechanisms and muscles are involved in each process. It is a matter of manipulating them so as to produce a creative presentation.

Tools for speaking and singing

When I say that speaking and singing are similar I refer to the processes involved.  To speak you must have an actuator, which is the breath. This is provided by the lungs and the muscles involved to inhale and to exhale.

Then you must have a vibrator.  This comes in the form of the larynx which we commonly call “the voice box”.  

Above the “voice box” we must have resonators, or “amplifiers”.  These are provided by the pharynx(upper throat), the mouth, and the nasal passages.  These can be more finely defined, but there is no need for that now.

In speaking and singing, we use words, so we need tools for that, too.

The main tools for forming words are: the jaw, the tongue, the teeth, and the lips.  There is also the soft palate which is used to produce certain nasal enhanced sounds.

If you have these tools, you have everything you need for speaking.  Therefore, you have everything you need for singing.

How is singing different from speaking

learn how to sing
Singing vs Speaking

When speaking we usually are thinking of producing single words.  Though we are expressing thoughts, which include all the words, we speak one word at a time.  When we sing, we must consider the beginning and the end of our thought.  

When speaking, our voice produces sounds in bursts.  To contrast, when singing the sound flows from the beginning of the phrase to the end.  Because of this, the actuator must provide a sustained supply of air instead of bursts of air.  This necessitates the coordinating of the actuator muscles to operate in a way that is not totally natural. This is where the learning comes in “learn how to sing”.

Some exercises for developing breath control

There are some simple exercises that can help us to begin to develop our actuator.

The first begins by dropping our jaw and inhaling through an open mouth.  You should inhale over a time of about 3 seconds. (Just count in your mind to 3).  Then exhale through a “hiss” for a count(think) of about ten seconds. Do this for about five repetitions.  If at first you cannot “hiss” for 10 seconds, start with 5 seconds and work your way up. Click on the MP3 for a demonstration.

      Inhale-Exhale warmup - Thomas Harvey

After you have done this exercise with the “hiss”, relax.  After relaxing a little, do it again. This time substitute vowels for the “hiss”.  Use “Ah”, as in father: “Oh”, as in no: “oo” as in sooth: “a” as in say: and “ee” as in see.

      Inhale-exhale warmup2 - Thomas Harvey

Another difference

Another difference between normal speech and singing is the range of pitches in the voice.  You may think that you do not employ pitch in your speaking, but you do. If you did not use pitch in your speaking you would sound monotone.  Here is an example of what a monotone voice would sound like. Then it is followed by a normal speaking voice. See if you hear the difference?  I am sure you will.

(Monotone)

      Monotone - Thomas Harvey

(Normal speech)

      Non-monotone - Thomas Harvey

(Normal speech)

That should answer any questions you may have as to your ability to sing.  If you talk like the first example, you may have problems developing a singing voice.  But, I doubt that you speak as the first voice did.

With that said, just about everyone can learn how to sing.  It is just a matter of finding the right exercises that will help you develop your singing.

Some exercises to help develop your singing voice range

Just as in any job or trade you learn you must work at areas you wish to develop.  So, if singing on pitch is something you need to work at, we have an exercise for you.  If expanding your vocal range is something you need help with, these exercises will be good beginning points.

For this exercise, we shall use the vowel, “Ah”.  Begin by dropping your jaw, inhale a good breath and say “Aaaaaaaah”.  Hold that for about 3 or 4 seconds. Take a breath again and this time as you say “Aaaaaah”, let the pitch slide down. (Here is an example-MP3).  Let it go as low as you can. Do that several times.

After a minute or two of rest, set up to do this previous exercise.  This time, though, let the pitch slide up. (Here is an example-MP3). Do this several times.

Variations

Do a variation on the previous exercise. Begin on the first pitch and slide up and then slide down. (Example-MP3)  After several times change it around. Begin on the first pitch and slide down then up. (Example-MP3)

If at first it seems a little rough, don’t give up.  It is “practice that makes perfect” not thinking. Just as babies do not learn to walk in a day, nor do singers learn to sing in a day.  Learning how to sing is an ongoing progress. I have been learning how to sing for almost 60 years. And I am still learning and growing in many areas of my singing.

Voice training exercises

These few voice training exercises that I have shared with you are just the beginning for beginners.  You can begin this wonderful adventure and learn how to sing better every day. 

The benefits of vocal training go far beyond just the singing that you will enjoy.  You will find yourself assuming better posture which benefits your overall physical well being.  There is also the benefit of breathing deeply which aids in the expulsion of toxins from the body.  In addition to the physical benefits are the mental and emotional benefits. People who engage in artistic endeavors tend to excel in other areas as well.  

Musicians, which include vocalists, consistently rank in the top 25% of their field of study, even if non-music fields.  So, by learning to sing, you are giving yourself an advantage, no matter what field you are in.

When to begin to learn how to sing

There is no better time to begin that RIGHT NOW!  You have the exercises you need to begin. Then you have exercises that will help you grow in your singing.

We provide the accompaniment for your exercise so you do not have to be distracted.  If you need additional help, we will have that for you, too.

We are ready to listen and help in any way that we can.  Contact us a tomharveybaritone@gmail.com or leave a comment in the “Comment” box below.

Maybe you have a favorite song you would like to sing, but do not have the accompaniment.  If you can tell us where to get a copy of the music we can record an accompaniment for you and email it as an MP3.

We want to help you learn how to sing

We want to help you learn how to sing and sing better.  Let us know how we can encourage you and help you grow as a musician.

Learn more about singing by checking these blogs:

HERE     and   HERE   and    HERE

God bless you!

 

 

How to Develop the Low Voice

I received a request not long ago on how to develop the low voice.  This is basically aimed at the male voice but could be adapted to the female voice with a few tweaks.

How to develop the low voice

Strengthen your voice
Bass singer

Let us state at the outset that we are not creating a “low voice”.  Each of us is given a certain mechanism which is called our voice. Certain parameters of its structure will determine what kind of voice it will be.  Female voices are usually of a higher pitch and range than a male voice. Our genetics will control most of that.

However, in every person, there is a given limit that the muscles of the mechanism will work.  We usually refer to this as the range of the voice. Some like to emphasize the upper range while others focus on the lower range.

Head voice or chest voice

Two typical titles given to define these vocal ranges are those of head voice and chest voice.  If those terms are employed we find that both male and female have these. There are some that think that only males have the two “registers”.  But both male and female have the same muscles in the vocal mechanism. It is usually more noticeable in the male.

In males, the chest voice is usually associated with the man’s natural singing range.  That range is usually determined as the young male begins to mature and genetics grow larger muscles in general.  This causes the voice pitch to lower because of an increase in size. The female’s muscle growth is less and thus the vocal range is not lowered as is the male’s.

The head voice is facilitated by a set of muscles.  In men, the voice produced is called “falsetto”. It is not a “false” voice at all.  For men, it harkens to the young boy’s soprano voice. The muscles used to produce the “falsetto” voice will remain viable if used regularly.  Sometimes the muscles grow weak or atrophy because of lack of use.  

The head voice is usually a mixture of the chest voice and the “falsetto” voice.  The best singing voice is usually a well-balanced use of both sets of muscles.

Can you extend your lower range?

I have met several men who wished to extend their lower singing range.  They wanted to know if this was possible. The answer varies, depending on the person.

The biggest determining factor is one’s genetics.  If you inherit the genes that grant you a relatively large larynx and likewise muscles, you may be able to.  Seldom do people endeavor to lower their voice range. Some may be blessed with nice rich low voices and they work within their range.

Most of us would like to expand our range a little if not a lot.  Once again we harken to the size of the instrument and the muscularity thereof.  Very few people even consider that you could develop the muscles to sing lower pitches.  However, muscles can be trained.

It is possible, through proper training, to develop the muscles to sing lower pitches.  One can also improve the quality of the production of the lower pitches. Whether there is a great increase in the volume, there will definitely be an improvement in the quality.  We often think that low-singing basses in a quartet have big full voices. Such is usually not the case. It sounds that way because the sound or recording system magnifies the sound exponentially

Develop your singing voice

Building your voice
Vocal Practice

The overall goal should be to develop your singing voice in general.  If you sing in a choir or a quartet where you sing lower than usual notes, work the lower range.  But, we work to produce a sound that is not so much louder but produces presence.  

What is “presence”?, you may ask.  “Presence” is not so much that you stand out in the sound of the choir or quartet.  But rather, you would be evidently missed if you were not there. It does not take nearly as much volume to evoke presence if the voice is well produced.  The goal in developing a lower range is not so much volume as it is quality.

If you are thinking of developing the lower range for solo you will probably lean toward the sound production equipment.  That is not necessarily bad because when singing in small groups microphones are the norm.

Strengthen your singing voice

It is always good to strengthen your singing voice.  Whether it be low or high or just in general. By strengthening one range of the voice you will be strengthening all areas.  

For this particular training, I am giving some exercises that will help to build the lower range of a male voice.  Building the right kind of strength in any range of the voice does not happen quickly. The training needs to be steady and methodical.  Sometimes it may take a year or more to begin to get the results you desire.

I think of Arnold Schwarzenegger the bodybuilder/actor.  When he began, he was not an exceptionally muscular man.  But, he worked out regularly and consistently for several years before winning his first competition.  He went on to be the top bodybuilder of his time.  

So, when you begin to build your voice, be patient and be consistent.  The strength will come and the voice will develop.

Some exercises to strengthen your lower voice

How to develop the low voice
Exercise

All three of these exercises are simple but will be effective in building strength in your lower range. Let me note that you should use good posture as you do these exercises.  Good posture is the foundation of all good singing.

Exercise 1

The first exercise is just a stepwise exercise beginning on the 5th of the scale.  It descends stepwise down a 5th and then returns up and then descends again. Then it modulates down a half-step and repeats the process.  Begin with the “Ah” vowel for a complete run-through. Then repeat the exercise using the “Oh”, “Oo”, “a” and “Ee” vowels.

This is the notation of the first rendition.  All others follow the same pattern.

How to develop the low voice

This is the MP3 for your use as an accompaniment.

      Bass Development 1 - Thomas Harvey

 

 

Exercise 2

Exercise 2 is even simpler.  You begin with a sustained note on the 5th of the scale and descend by quarter notes to the tonic. Hold the final note for 3 beats.  Do the entire exercise using the same vowels as above. The tone should be relaxed and not pushed.

Strengthening your voice
Notation Exercise 2
      Bass Development 2(2) - Thomas Harvey

 

Exercise 3

The third exercise is a little different.  The first two were working to maintain flexibility as we build our lower range.  This exercise has the goal of tying our “falsetto” to our lowest bass notes.

The exercise begins by sounding the note which is “A” above middle “C”. Then it sounds the “a” in the second octave below middle “C”.  The goal is to use the “Ooh” vowel and slide from the top note to the bottom note. This is a falsetto exercise. You are to maintain the falsetto all the way to and including the lowest pitch.  It may not be very loud, but that is OK.  

As the exercise moves downward it may be harder still to do the falsetto.  Just do your best and go all the way through the exercise. Even if you do not get any sound, go through the motions.  It may take you a week or two before some of the lower notes begin to sound.

For now, just use the “Ooh” vowel.

Strengthening the lower voice
Notation of Exercise 3
      Bass Development 3(3) - Thomas Harvey

 

A little information

If you were like I was you may not have much of a falsetto.  That came about because I wanted to sound like a man. I had to build the muscles which produced the falsetto part of the voice.  

If you have that problem you might try the trick I used to begin redeveloping my falsetto.  Though I could not sing in falsetto I could call my cat. The way I call my cat was the typical, “Kitty, kitty, kitty.”  In other words, I unconsciously used falsetto to call my cats. It took me about three months to get my falsetto to where I could control it.  Any trick that will help you “Peep” out that falsetto will do. But don’t do anything that causes pain in your voice.

Conclusion

Incorporate these exercises into a daily or regular warmup and you will be surprised at your vocal development.

Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions below.  If you wish to email me, you do that at tomharveybaritone@gmail.com.

We have many other helpful articles to help you grow in your singing.  You can check them out by clicking on the menu.

 

Home Recording Studio Setup

You have invested in your music training and have made good progress.  Now you want to hear what you sound like to others. Rather than paying for a high priced recording session, you consider setting up your own studio.  What will you need and what will it cost you for a home recording studio setup? That is what we shall look at in this blog.

Location

We shall assume that you have a location in your home that can be set aside for a small studio.  It does not have to be a large area. However, it should have enough room for a small desk or table and a chair.  Along with that, there should be access to electrical outlets. It should have adequate light and air condition

With the above conditions met, we now address the equipment.

 

 What home recording studio equipment will you need?

Let’s begin with the things you may already have.  

Computer

Home Recording Studio setup
Computer

This is the heart of the recording studio.  You will need a computer with adequate memory.  If you plan to do a lot of recording you will need at least 100 GB of ROM.  Along with that, you will need at least 4 GB of RAM. If you can add an additional 4 GB it will be even better.  But, 4 GB will suffice.

Processor speed should be a minimum of 2.0 GHz.  The higher the better.

The best programs for home recording studios are usually setup for Windows or Mac.  There are some that are built for non-conventional platforms. But these are not as high of a quality as those for Windows and Mac.

Along with the computer, you will need a decent monitor to display the recording program and its many layouts and platforms. 

Interface

Audio interface
Audio Interface

The interface is the equipment that we plug into the computer that transmits what we record to the computer.  Depending on what equipment we choose, that can range from one input to multiple inputs. For a home studio, one or two inputs with a midi input should be adequate.  

The inputs are typically two microphones and a midi.  With two microphones you can record an instrument(i.e. guitar) and a vocal.  If you choose an interface with a midi input, you can record your midi along with the audio. With midi input, you can also program your accompaniment in advance.

You will also want to choose an interface that will accommodate condenser as well as dynamic microphones.  Condenser microphones are the choice for studio recordings. But dynamics will suffice if that is what you have.  To use a condenser microphone the interface must provide a 48-volt power supply. Condenser microphones provide a better recording and catch all the nuances of the singer.

Microphones

Home Recording Studio setup mic
Condenser Microphone

We have just mentioned microphones above.  Almost all recording studios use condensers.  The dynamic microphone is better for live performances.  Condenser microphones are the overwhelming choice of the recording studio.

Home recording studio software

Home recording studio software prices range from “free” to “extremely expensive”.  Since we are just beginning, we shall look at the “free” to “the best for the money”.

Audacity

Audacity is a “free” recording software and gives a general idea of how to record for beginners.  It is fine for a beginning experience. But, as you progress, you will want to graduate to a little more comprehensive program.  It will give you a good taste of what recording is like.

You can download a FREE version of Audacity HERE.

Sonar

Sonar is a very good software for not only home studios but for professionals as well.  I have used it to make many home studio recordings. It has several platforms from which to choose.  The program has several interfaces that it works well with. However, it would be wise to make sure that the interface you choose will work with it.  Check out Sonar HERE.

Pro Tools

The industry standard for many years has been the Pro Tools software.  It is for sure one of the top-rated software programs for the recording industry.  Almost any decent interface will work with Pro Tools. Pro Tools is probably the most expensive of the recording software programs.  It is probably worth the price.

I have used this software for many years and had good results.  However, as it has grown more and more complex, it goes beyond the needs of a home studio.

Check out Pro Tools Here.

Studio One

Studio One from PreSonus has consistently grown in the recording studio market.  Unlike Pro Tools, it has not forgotten the “little man” in the recording industry.  The software produces professional-quality recordings from the entry-level to the professional level.  

PreSonus develops software which complements its foundational Studio One.  It has also developed the interfaces that augment the Studio One platform.

This is the program that I use now.  It is on a par with Pro Tools and in some areas easier to use.  It is built to integrate with its other programs of composition and printing of works.  It also has a platform to promote your recordings.

The developers are constantly updating and improving the product.

My Recommendation for Home Recording Studio Setup Package

The program that I recommend is Studio One.  The reason for that is that you are just beginning and are probably working with a budget.

We are assuming that you have a good computer and have a place set up.  Studio One has a nice setup and provides everything you will need to begin recording.  There are several packages that you can choose from, depending on what you wish to accomplish.

The simple package

There are two PreSonus packages that I recommend for the home recording studio setup.  Both are under $300. But each has what you will need to carry your music from concept to finished recording.

The first is Audiobox Itwo Bundle.  It comes with Studio One Artist software, AudioBox interface, M7 condenser microphone, headphones, and cables.  You also get a free account with Nimbit where you can publish your recordings for the internet. There is also a Free app from the Apple store to interface your software with an IPad.  All this for only $249.00. Click the image to get it now.

 


Presonus – Bundle Includes AudioBox iTwo, HD7 Headphones, M7 Mic, S1 Artist_
Buy Today @ The Sound Professionals, Inc.

Best package for beginning home studio

If you have an understanding of the piano keyboard then this bundle would be perfect.  It not only allows you to record but you can program your accompaniment, too.

This is the Music Creation Suite.   With this bundle, you get AudioBox interface, Studio One Artist software.  You also get Notation Music notation software. Along with these, you receive a PS49 Midi Keyboard.  Included are an M7 condenser microphone and HD3 Headphones. Rounding out the package is a Free Nimbit account to publish all your recordings. 

The cost of this bundle is only $299.00.  There is no better home recording studio bundle anywhere on the internet.  Get yours by clicking the image.

>

Presonus – Presonus Music Creation Suite – USB Hardware/Software Composing and Recording Kit.

Buy Today @ The Sound Professionals, Inc.

 

Conclusion to home recording studio setup

Whether you take your music to the professional level or not, having a home recording studio setup is a plus.  By recording and hearing yourself you can make the improvements which you could not before. As you improve you can publish your recordings through various services such as Nimbit or SoundCloud.

Check out the packages and programs that I have shared with you and begin your adventure.

May God bless you and prosper you.

 

 

Strengthen My Singing Voice

Many young singers, eager to build a singing career want to know, “How can I strengthen my singing voice?”  Too many of these young people fall for the wares of vocal charlatans and ruin their career before it starts.  A friend of mine related one such incident.  

A young lady in his church showed great potential in contemporary religious singing.  My friend recommended that she study with a college voice teacher in their church. The teacher recommended a course of training which would take a minimum of three years.  This would give her voice time to mature and build the strength necessary for a career in concert singing. The parents opted for a “quick fix” with a popular teacher in Los Angeles, California.  

In two years the young singer returned home.  Her voice was all but ruined. The “teacher” had tried to manipulate the young voice with popular tricks taught to secular singers.  Just as people trying to do things physically which are beyond their ability can injure themselves, so can singers.

If the vocal muscle is not strong enough to accomplish a certain level, it must be strengthened.  That strengthening must be done with wisdom and knowledge. The vocal mechanism and its muscles must be built gradually and nurtured each step of the way.

Beginnings

Human beings by nature are singers.  Babies in the mother’s womb react to the mother’s singing voice.  Infants begin to sing before they can verbalize words. Singing is almost second nature to human beings.  I am convinced that this is because our Creator loves singing and there will be endless singing in heaven.  That is my opinion.

Many people think that birds, or other animals, sing.  They do not, in the real sense of the definition of singing.  Singing is basically “intonation of words or phrases to add emotion and emphasis to its meaning”.  Animals have no sense of wording or thoughts to their melodies. Their “music” however does carry forms of communication.  We shall not address that in this blog.

Foundations

To develop a good and strong singing voice one must first lay a good foundation.  One important thing I learned in the building business was the need of a solid foundation.  If you mess up on the foundation, nothing else you do will correct that error. No amount of tricks or cover-ups can produce a good product if the foundation is faulty.

Another truth I learned was that there is a necessary time that a foundation should set up.  In other words, it takes a while before the structure should be built on the foundation. Rushing any development structure will lessen the value of the foundation.  Build the foundation with patience. Then the structure will be strong and come naturally.

 

Foundational vocalise

It is always wise to begin warming up with light vocalise exercises.  By beginning your warmup in a predetermined structure, you alert your body and voice to get ready to sing.  One of the simplest exercises is that of humming. It is a simple way of activating the breathing muscles and the vocal mechanisms.  Along with those you can feel the sensations of the vibrations associated with singing.

The humming should always be light and unforced.  This is just the beginning and should promote freedom of production, not forceful production.  A good “humm” will also give a good tingle to the lips and nose.

Below is a good humming exercise you can use to begin your warmup.  It will move up by half-steps to stretch the vocal mechanism. But, you should never get to a point of forcing the production.  Keep it light. If it gets above your comfortable range, just drop out and wait till it comes back. Over time you will gradually increase the range of your warmup.

 

Strengthen my singing voice
Humming warmup
      Warmup 1 - Thomas Harvey

 

Continue to strengthen your singing voice with these exercises

The next exercise is a slightly different approach.  We shall use the “Ooh” vowel. The structure of the mouth to form the “Ooh” should be the same as that of the “Ah” vowel.  The difference is in how the lips are shaped. The lips should be formed as if you were going to whistle. Make sure the jaw is still open for the “Ah”.

How to form “Ooh” with a dropped jaw.

Now, sing through the exercise a few times.  Always keep the “Ooh” light and floating. This is just a warmup.  Below you will see the notation of the beginning exercise. The recorded accompaniment will progress up by semitones and then back down.  Repeat a couple of times.

Notation for warm-up 2
Here is the notation for Warm-up exercise 2
      Warmup 1.2 - Thomas Harvey

 

Next warmup

Our next exercise in our warm-up regimen is a simple octave leap up and then down.  We shall use three different vowels. Go through the exercise completely using one vowel and then the other until using all three.

The vowels are: “e” as in “eager”; “a” as in “way”; and “ah” as in “father”.  Use them in this order. The exercise will move by half steps up, then back down.  Keep the voice light and unforced.

Warm-up 3

 

      Warmup 1.3 - Thomas Harvey

 

Bring focus to warmup

This exercise will conclude this warmup regime.  We use a simple major scale in eighth notes to conclude this session.  Use the same vowel for the whole exercise. Then repeat the exercise with the next vowel.

 

The vowels in order are: “ee” as in “see”; “a” as in “say”; “oh” as in “old”; “ah” as in “father”.  The tone should always be light. For men, if you need to go into falsetto, that is OK.

notation for warm-up 4
Warm-up number 4
      Warmup 1.4 - Thomas Harvey

 

Conclusion

This warm-up should take you about 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the rest between each exercise.  When completed, relax for a few minutes and then work on learning your songs.

By using these warm-up techniques regularly you will strengthen your singing voice.  You will also improve your singing voice as you grow proficient in your warm-up techniques.

Look through our site and find helpful practices to grow an even more artistic voice.

Services

Do you need a recorded accompaniment for your singing?  We can produce a general accompaniment for your practice needs.  If we do not have a particular composition, we can get it.

We shall give you the first three accompaniments free to see if they help you.  If you like what you get, we can produce more for around $3 to $6 per song, depending on the length.

Let us help you be all that you can be!

 

Strengthen Your Singing Voice-Vocal Warm Up

Strengthen Your Singing Voice with good vocal warmups

Vocal Warm Up

If you enjoy singing you have experienced times that your voice just quit working.  Or at least it did not perform the way it should. If you were not ill or just fatigued, it was probably that you overextended the ability of your voice.  With a little patience and the right direction, you can strengthen your singing voice. With a stronger and more controlled voice, you can sing longer and better.

Vocal warm up exercises for singing

If you plan to be singing for more than just a few minutes you should do some vocal warm up exercises.  Warm up exercises for singing can vary from simple to medium.  Good warm up exercises will help strengthen your singing voice.

To begin any vocal warm up you need to establish a good breathing technique.  You can start by working up a good “yawn”. Do several good “yawns” and feel what your abdomen feels like.

Vocal singing warmup
Practice warm up yawn

Here are a few more “yawns” to help you get it going.

Vocal Warm up
Another yawn
Vocal warm up
Are you feeling the urge, yet?
Warm up yawn
You should be yawning, now.

 This will show you how your abdomen should feel like as you inhale in preparation to sing. It will also give you some idea of the openness that your throat should feel when singing correctly. Once you have established the feeling of breathing deeply and having an open throat you can move on to phonation, making a sound.

Continuing warm up exercises

A simple “hmm”(that stands for humming) would be a good beginning to wake the singing instrument.  After taking a good “yawning” breath, bring your lips together but keep your teeth apart.  The tongue should lie relaxed on the floor of the mouth the tip touching the back of the bottom teeth.  

Now, “hmm” on any pitch.  Hold the pitch for three or four counts.  Relax, and do the exercise to or three more times.  Then extend the amount of time that you hold the pitch.  You may also wish to move the pitch up an interval or two as you continue.

Vocal warm up
Feel the tingle in the lips

If you are humming correctly you will feel a little tingle around the lips and nose.  If you do not, concentrate on relaxing the facial muscles as you hum.

 

 Add flexibility exercises

After performing the initial exercise for two or three minutes, you can move on to some flexibility exercises.

The first of these exercises is a diatonic exercise which moves stepwise.  Depending on your vocal ability it can be done as eighth note rhythms or sixteenth note rhythms.  See the example below. You can click on the player and use the embedded recording as your accompaniment.

Stepwise eighth note exercise
      Stepwise eighths - Thomas Harvey

 

Strengthen your singing voice
Stepwise sixteenth note warmup exercise
      Stepwise-Sixteenths - Thomas Harvey

The exercise will move up by half-steps for four exercises and then back down.  You may choose the eighth-note version or the sixteenth note version. Begin with the eighth note version and the advance to the sixteenth as you are able.(thirds)

Continuing voice warm up exercises that strengthen your singing voice

As we continue to warm up our voice we shall extend our range slightly. This is not to add range to the voice but to wake up the range we have.

This next exercise can be done as eighth notes or sixteenth notes as the previous.  It is a diatonic stepwise moving up four steps and then back down and repeat. You can choose whichever is best for your warm up ability.  You may wish to do both. The exercise will then move up in pitch by five half steps and then back down.(fifths)

Strengthen your singing foice
Five note run up and down
      Stepwise a fifth-Eighth notes - Thomas Harvey

 

Strengthening your singing voice
Five steps up and five steps
      Stepwise fifth-Sixteenth notes(2) - Copy - Thomas Harvey

 

Leaping steps warm up exercises

The first leaping warm up exercise is the arpeggio.  In this exercise, we trace a major chord. Beginning with  “tonic” to “third” to “fifth” back to “third” and then repeat the exercise three more times.  Once again you may use the eighth note version or the sixteenth note version. Each is embedded below.

We will move up by half steps five times and then back down to the original.  Each section should be done with one breath.

Strengthen your singing voice
Arpeggio-Eighth notes
      Arpeggio-Eighth notes - Thomas Harvey

 

Voice strengthening
Arpeggio sixteenth notes
      Arpeggio-Sixteenth notes - Thomas Harvey

Strengthening your singing voice

The exercises that we have been doing to warm up our singing voice is also strengthening our voice.  Flexibility exercises help by programming our vocal muscles to react more quickly. This exercises the full range of the muscle in a way that normal speaking or singing does not.  What we desire is a muscle that performs in any situation or range.

As we continue to use these warm up exercises and add to them, we shall hear the voice blossom.  Flexibility exercises build strength without the pressure or damages that come with pushing for range.  These exercises build durability and control without bringing fatigue to the vocal mechanism.

Flexibility exercises do not need to be practiced to the point of tiredness.  But they should be practiced regularly. Strength and control will come in due time.  We shall continue to add exercises as we develop this program.

The next step

Our next flexibility warm up exercise is a leap/step configuration. Beginning with the tonic we leap a third up and then a step down.  This is repeated three times. Then it reverses and does a third down then a step up four times. See the notated version below. You can modulate the exercise up four half steps and then back down to the original.  You can play the embedded mp3 to accompany your practice.

Strengthen your singing voice
Leap up – Step down
      Leap-step eighth notes - Thomas Harvey

 

Leap-Step Sixteenth notes
Leap-Step Sixteenth notes
      Leap-step sixteenth notes - Thomas Harvey

 

To conclude your warm up

To conclude your warm up just do some sighing.  By sighing, I mean to lightly “sigh” an “ooh” as high as you can.  Then let your pitch slide to the lowest pitch you can. Hear the demonstration embedded here.

      Sigh - Thomas Harvey

After “sighing” several times just relax.  Breathe comfortably but seek to keep good posture.

Considerations

If you do these simple exercises each time you practice you will begin to see improvement in your singing voice.  The voice is a result of many muscles working together. Just like any muscle, the muscles of the voice must be worked to build strength.

I am of the persuasion that a flexible muscle is a strong muscle.  So, if we strengthen our singing voice by exercising flexibility we will produce beautiful singing also.  It will take time. But anything of beauty is worth any amount of time that is invested in it. With patience and perseverance, you can develop a strong and beautiful singing voice.

We shall be here to help you along your journey. You can email us at tom@tomharveybaritone.com. 

 May God bless you.

To learn more about finding a good vocal teacher go to the NATS website to find a teacher in your area.

Vocal Production Techniques-Does a Yawn Help

There are many techniques employed in teaching how to sing well. Many are useful and helpful. But there are many which can do more harm than good. We shall not attempt to cover them all in this treatise but shall address a few. When vocal production techniques are a topic of discussion quite often the “yawn” is bantered about. The question is, “Does a yawn help?”

Some say it’s good, others say otherwise. The answer to the question of “Does a yawn help in good vocal production techniques?” depends on whom you ask.

To me, the answer should depend on the results for the student, or the performer.

Foundation of sound production

Let’s begin from the foundation up. Without air, there would be no sound. Sound is a result of pressure waves of air being impressed upon an eardrum. So, air is a necessary ingredient in the production of sound. In the case of singing where the sound is manipulated and regulated, we need a means of control.

In the human being, that system is made up of the lungs and it’s accompanying muscle ensemble. The prominent muscles in this ensemble are the diaphragm and the intercostal muscles. The diaphragm provides the means of intake and regulation of expulsion. The power for expulsion is provided by the intercostal muscles.

The generator of the sound

We have the power and we have the air. Where do we get the sound? The sound producer is housed in the larynx. The larynx is made up of several muscles and cartilages that work together to accomplish several things besides sound.

The thyroid gland produces certain nutrients that are necessary for our bodies in producing energy. The aretinoid and cryco-thyroid cartilages function as open and closers. They open the vocal folds when we breathe and close them when we swallow. If they did not function correctly we might choke ourselves every time we tried to swallow anything. They also come into action when we exert ourselves to lift heavy loads.

Those are just a couple of many things that they do.

Probably the most important role they play in our lives is that of speaking. It is in the larynx that the initiation of sound begins.

Production of sound in the voice

vocal production techniques, does a yawn help
The Larynx

Sound production in the voice begins when air is forced out of the lungs by the intercostal muscles. It flows up through the trachea into the larynx where it encounters an obstacle. That obstacle is the vocal folds. The vocal folds are twin mucous membranes stretched horizontally across the larynx.

When we breathe the arytenoid processes open the opposing vocal folds. When we swallow, they close them so our food does not go into our lungs. They also close them when we speak or sing. The tension expressed in the vocal folds will determine the pitch of the sound. This is determined by the arytenoid process. It not only determines the tension but also the pressure. Tension will determine the pitch. Pressure will determine volume.

The initial sound produced in the larynx would be of little consequence it the larynx was all there was. But, there is more.

Amplification of vocal production

Without something to amplify our vocal production, we would all sound like little ant cartoon characters. Fortunately, we have some amplifiers. To modern day people, we think amplifiers are electrically operated means of boosting sound. But long before electricity people knew how to amplify sound.

Even in Old Testament days, they used horns cut off of rams to amplify vibrating lips. They spoke through a small end with the result being amplified in the large end.

Vocal production
The main resonator amplifier

Another means of amplification was that of a resonating chamber. Buildings for gatherings were built in such a way that sounds would bounce of walls and compliment one another. This was found in the great cathedrals of the middle ages. It is the resonating chamber that is used by our vocal mechanism.

The two main resonating chambers used to amplify the voice are the pharynx and the mouth. To a minor degree, the nasal cavities play a part. The principal amplifier is the pharynx. This is the area of the throat just above the larynx. It extends from the top of the larynx up to the soft palate which closes the entrance to the nasal cavity. The secondary resonator is the mouth.

The size of the resonator is in direct proportion to the amount of amplification it produces. Therefore, the more open the mouth the greater the volume. The less open the mouth, the lesser the volume.

The principal resonator

The principal resonator is the pharynx. How do you make it bigger to increase its potential for volume?

There are two things that must take place to facilitate this. The soft palate, which closes off the nasal cavity, must be lifted. The second can be brought about by lowering the larynx in the throat.

To get the soft palate up form your mouth to say and “AH”, and then inhale. The body’s reflexive action lifts the soft palate. If you do that several times you can begin to get the feeling that you need to maintain.

The other action of lowering the larynx is a little different.

Does a yawn help in singing?

does a yawn help
The Yawn

This is where the yawn comes in handy. It is not so much that you are yawning while singing, because that would be almost impossible. Rather, in our training, we shall utilize the “yawn” as a tool to develop the muscles that aid us in lowering the larynx.

There are a couple of areas that the “yawn” will help us in. What is one of the first things that you notice when you yawn? It is that the diaphragm really distends and causes you to take a deep breath. It feels like your belly is filling up with air. That is good. The other thing you notice is that your throat really feels open. It feels that way because the larynx is lowered to it’s lowest possible position.

This is good for relaxing the vocal mechanism. But, it is not the ideal position for the tongue and jaw for singing. So we must find a median that allows for the maximum size of the resonator and ideal location for mechanisms.

Yawning while singing

In answering the question, “In vocal production techniques, does a yawn help?” we decided we cannot do a full yawn and sing. But there are qualities of the yawn that we would like to incorporate into our singing.

Go back to the beginning of your yawn. As the yawn sets on you begin to feel the relaxation start. It is at this point that you need to take note. The larynx has begun to lower but is not all the way down. The jaw has not come to a situation of being overstretched and out of joint. (For the jaw to complete a yawn it must shift from its normal chewing and speaking position. It relocates itself without dislocating itself.) At this stage, the diaphragm is distended fairly well.

This position is ideal for good singing. To not begin the yawning process would leave the larynx high enough so as not to give maximum volume. The soft palate would probably not be raised to seal off the nasal cavity. Neither would there be the relaxing of nonessential muscles to the singing process. By practicing the yawn we can develop the muscles and understanding needed to build a good resonator for the voice.

Conclusion

In addressing “Vocal production techniques, does a yawn help?” there is no clear specific answer.  But there are some good things that can come from studying the yawn.

We are not advocating that one should assume to yawn while singing. But we do believe that the yawn sensation does help with vocal placement. By incorporating the yawn sensation in our practice and warm up we can enhance sound production in the voice.

Voice production techniques
Yawning or Singing?

We should never use any approach that overworks the voice. The goal of every singer is to keep the voice flexible and controlled. To overwork the yawn would put the vocal mechanism in some awkward situations not conducive to good singing.

So, even when incorporating the yawn technique, keep the voice flexible. It should not be too heavy. Though it can be practiced with sustained tones, it should more be with mobility exercises.

Get ready to enjoy a more resonant and bigger voice as you learn to yawn.

If you have any questions you can email us at tom@tomharveybaritone.com.

How To Warm Up Your Singing Voice

In the previous blog we learned the importance of good posture for singing.  Now we are going to get down to the root of singing and that is the voice. The typical popular singer has a little idea of how to warm up for singing, but it is usually not that good.  So, let’s look at how to warm up your singing voice correctly.

 

Should I warm up before singing?

That seems like a silly question, but it is an important question.  The simple answer is “Yes”. Another question comes to mind, “why should I warm up before singing?”  Let us do a little comparison to what a person who engages in running a track event.

Does the mile runner go out to the starting line just before they line up to run?  Of course not! The runner will be up and stretching and doing calisthenics and working from jogging to a full run.  He or she will be warming up his muscles for up to an hour before he or she actually runs the race.

So, it is with the singer.  We must warm up our muscle, in this case our voice muscle.  For runners to come out and run the race without warming up properly, might cause damage to their body.  For the singer it might cause damage to the voice, depending on the song that is sung.

What are some good warm up exercises before singing?

To begin your warm up you should refresh your body’s memory of what good posture is.  You can do your lying down exercise or standing against a wall. Just take a few minutes to alert your body that you are getting ready to sing.

Go ahead and do a couple of breathing exercises.  You can “yawn” to get the feeling of expanse in the rib cage.  Do this several times until you can keep the feeling of that openness at will.  To help get control of the exhaling phase do the exhale through the “sssss”. Do that until you can exhale to a count of 10.   

Relax a few minutes and then begin some phonation exercises.

Important Note

I am of the persuasion that the tension that we seek to avoid in our singing is not caused by the throat.  Rather, I believe that the tension in the throat, and other muscles, is because the voice is not strong. Some like to emphasize little tricks like lip trills and other similar applications to displace tension.  These may work to some degree, but they do not address the root of the problem.

I believe that a strong voice is a free voice.  To build a strong voice takes time. Just as it takes a baby about 20 years to achieve adulthood, so is singing.  It is not that it will take you 20 years to begin to sing beautifully or artistically. But just as you learn to walk by the age of three you can walk even better at twenty.  You can speak quite well at age five but you are much more fluent and articulate at twenty.

If you learn singing correctly, you will sing for your whole life.  I want you to enjoy singing your whole life long.

Back to warm up your singing voice

My recommendation for a beginning warm up is a simple “Humm”.  Begin by inhaling through a “yawn”. Then, leaving the teeth one or two fingers apart, bring your lips together.  You can begin the “Humm” and hold it for four or five seconds. After several of these “Humms” we shall add a little movement.

For the next part we shall do the exercise that you see printed below, still “Humming” to the notes and rhythm.

How to warm up your singing voice
Initial Warmup
      Initial Warmup - Thomas Harvey

You will do the vocalese up for five half-steps and then back down to the beginning pitch.  The whole exercise should be “hummed” lightly with the feeling of a yawn. You should be able to do each step on one breath.  The tempo is 80 bpm. You should do the whole exercise at least three times. Take a few minutes to relax when you finish.

We are learning how to warm up your singing voice

For the next step in our warm up we shall use the “Ah” vowel.  The reason we use this vowel is because of its openness. Some people like to turn the sound toward the “Awe”.  That does produce a little more openness in some voices but not in all. What we are looking for is a consistency in vocal production.

To get the rich and ringing sound we desire in a good solo voice we need consistent full sound.  This is where the “yawn” comes into play. We have already warmed up with a “yawn” so let’s incorporate it now in our phonation.  If you recall the feeling we get with a “yawn”, it gives the feeling of openness from belly to nose. As we shall learn as we continue, this is what gives a voice its richness.

We shall use the same exercise as above.  You should have the feeling of “yawning” your way through the exercise.  Do the exercise twice. The idea is still not to be loud but light. You should not “feel” and weight in the voice.  For men you should feel as if you are singing “falsetto”. This is, after all, a warm up.

Continue to warm up your singing voice

So far, we have come about fifteen minutes into our preparation for singing.  We still have about twenty to thirty minutes more before we shall be ready to perform.

Vaccai

The next phase of our warm up routine is taken from a book entitled “Practical Method of Italian Singing”.  It is a compilation of vocalese songs composed by the early 19th century composer Nicola Vaccai.  He was a successful Italian composer as well as teacher of voice.  He had many students who did not desire to be professional performers but desired to sing well.  Rather than composing monotonous exercises addressing areas of the vocal training, he composed songs addressing certain vocal techniques.

This approach proved so successful that they are common in many vocal training schools.  Though there are several other vocalese compilations that work very well in developing specific areas, these are fine for foundations.

La Scala

Vaccai partitions his vocalese by beginning with intervals.  The simplest interval being the second. So, our first singing warm up vocalese will be his “La Scala” which emphasizes the second.

These are the words:

Manca solecita

Più dell usato

Ancorche s’agiti

Conlieve fiato

Face che palpita Presso al morir

Face che palpita Presso al morir

How to warm up your singing voice
La Scala

This particular recording is done in the key of B flat instead of C that is printed.

Sing through this exercise at least twice.  Emphasize good breaths through a “yawn”. Then maintain a good feeling of “yawn” as you sing a legato line.  Sing each phrase on one breath. The higher you go in pitch, seek to maintain the “yawn”.

For now, we are emphasizing the “yawn” as we warm up.  When we get to singing the song, we shall let it be a secondary motivation.  As we advance, we shall focus on it again from time to time.

Salti di Terza

Our next warm up exercise is the Salti di Terza, an exercise in thirds.

The words are:

Semplicetta tortorella

Che nonvede il suo periglio

Perfuggirda crudo atilio

Vola ingrembo alcacciator

Perfuggirda crudo atilio

Perfuggirda crudo atilio

Vola ingrembo alcacciator

Vola ingrembo alcacciator

Strive to make the vowels pure as you practice this warm up.  Go through the exercise twice. Take a short break and take in some fluid.  Then move on to the next exercise.

Singing warm up
La Terza

Salti di Quarta

As we continue we exercise the interval of the fourth in Salti di Quarta.

The words are as follows:

Lascia il lido, E il mare infido

A solcar torna il nochiero

E pur sa che mensognero

Altre volte l’inganno

Altre volte l’inganno

Altre volte l’inganno

Altre volte l’inganno

Sing through this exercise a couple of times and take a short break.

warm up your singing voice
Quarta

Salta di Quinta

Our next warm up exercise is the interval of the fifth, Salta di Quinta.

The words are:

Avvezzo a vivere

Senza con forto

Ancor nel porto

Paventi il mar

Avvezzo a vivere

Senza con forto

Ancor nel porto

Paventi il mar

Sing this exercise a couple of times and move on to the next.

How to warm up for singing
Quinta
      Vaccai 5 (High) - Thomas Harvey
      Vaccai 5 (Low) - Thomas Harvey

Salti di Sesta

Our next warm up exercise is the interval of the sixth.

The words are:

Bella prova s’alma forte

L’esser placida e serena

Nel soffrir l’ingiusta pena

D’una colpa che non ha

Bella prova s’alma forte

L’esser placida e serena

Nel soffrir l’ingiusta pena

D’una colpa che non ha

warm up for singing
Sesta
      Salti di Sesta(Low) - Thomas Harvey
      Salti di Sesta(High) - Thomas Harvey

 

Salti di Settima

As we move on, we warm up with the interval of the seventh.

These are the words:

Fra lombre un lampo solo

Basta al nochier sagace

Che gia ritrova il polo

Gia riconosce il mar

How to warm up your singing voice
Settima
      Salti di Settima - Thomas Harvey
      Salti di Settima(High) - Thomas Harvey

We are almost through with our warm up.  Move on to the last exercise.

 

 

Salti di Ottava

Our final warm up is the interval of an octave.  By the time we finish this exercise we shall have sufficiently warmed up our vocal mechanism to sing.

The words are:

Quell’ onda che ruina

Balza si frange e mormora

Ma limpida si fa

Balza, balza, balza balza,

Ma limpi da si fa.

Sing through this exercise a couple of times and then relax.

How to warm up your singing voice
Ottavo
      Ottava(High) - Thomas Harvey
      Ottava(Low) - Thomas Harvey

 

Conclusion

By the end of this exercise you should be well warmed up to sing. Depending on how advanced you are and the songs you are singing you may need to do additional warm up.  But, for normal singing and practice you should be ready to go.

This should be a typical warm up session for every time you will be singing or practicing. You should warm up your voice for singing every time you sing.

You should be able to use this post to warm up if you have a smartphone and can access this site.  I shall include a couple of ranges for each exercise as possible. The mid-range exercise will be used if only one is included.  More shall be added as we continue to develop the site.

You should warm up your voice for singing even on days you do not plan to officially sing.

Contact us at tom@tomharveybaritone.com

Why Posture Is Important for Singing

When a student first begins to study in the area of vocal music they must first set their priorities.  Many are surprised to find out that the first priority is not the voice. It is not that the voice is not important, it is important.  But the infrastructure supporting the voice is very important. If the infrastructure is weak or of insufficient support, much harm can come to the instrument.  This is why posture is important for singing. It is the supporting infrastructure of the voice.

Why is posture important for singing?

We have just stated that posture provides the structure on which the vocal mechanism relies.  The mechanism of the voice is made up of a source of power, the producer and the amplifiers.

The source of power is the breath.  The air must be forced from the lungs through the trachea and flow through the larynx, where the sound is produced.  The sound is then amplified by the resonators, the pharynx, the mouth and nasal cavities. If these are not properly aligned the best production of the voice cannot be attained.  This is where posture comes into play.

Breath support and control for singing.

Let’s begin with the foundation.  The breath provides the power to produce the voice.  Sound is produced by the compression and decompression of air waves impressed upon our eardrums.  Without a consistent flow of air power from the power source we cannot hope to bet a good vocal production.

Many suppose the diaphragm to be the source of power to force the air out of the lungs.  Though the diaphragm is important, it is not the producer of the power that forces the air out of the lungs.  Its role is to infuse the lungs with air, inhale the air, and then regulate its outward flow, exhalation. Because of its structure it lacks the ability to force air out of the lungs.  Any muscle in its relaxed position is in its longest state. As it flexes, it shortens its station. When the diaphragm is relaxed it is in a domed shape. In its flexed position it shortens into a flattened form. In this position it provides a suction for the lungs to draw air in. It provides a regulatory role by gradually releasing tension and controlling the flow of air out of the lungs.  The out flow is brought about by the flexing of the intercostal muscles when singing or speaking.

Muscle and skeleton

This is where posture plays a role.  All muscles are in some way connected to the skeleton of the body.  The leverage of the muscle will be affected for good or bad depending on the posture of the skeleton.  Good leverage means good production. Weak leverage, weak production.

The same is true in singing, and especially in the power supply.  Poor posture puts the muscle in a less than optimal position. Therefore, the production will not be at its best.  With the energy supply weakened other processes will be overloaded. If they are overloaded they will not operate at their best.  That is when problems develop.

Almost all singers with poor posture develop other vocal problems.  So, it is of utmost importance to get the posture right.

What is the best posture for singing?

So, how do you determine if you have correct posture for your singing?  First we need to determine what good posture is in normal situations. The best way that I have found to do that is to lie on your back on the floor.  Lie on your back with your heels on the floor. Hands should be at your side, your shoulder blades flat on the floor. Your head should be tilted slightly and lying on the floor.

Why posture is important for singing
Discover correct posture

Relax in this position and concentrate on how your body parts relate to one another.  This is a position that we are rarely in, even when we sleep. So take five or ten minutes to find out how it feels with all parts of your body in sinc.  The next step to translate that to singing posture is to stand up. To get things in line, if you can, stand with your back against a wall. Depending on your body build, you may not be able to put your heels against the wall.  But do place your heels as close to the wall as you comfortably can.

Why posture is important for singing
Good standing posture

Your head, shoulder blades and hands should be against the wall as they were against the floor. Now, hold this position for five or ten minutes and concentrate on how it feels.  You will not be able to maintain this position at all times but it is a good starting position. Return to it from time to time just to keep things in their proper relationship.

Benefits of standing erect to sing

In this position you will find your chest lifted with your shoulders erect and back.  This posture will keep your shoulder and chest muscles from heaving when you inhale. It will also keep your chest from sinking when you exhale.

In this position your diaphragm will function at its best when you inhale.  It will also be set to regulate the outflow as you exhale. With this posture the abdominal muscles can be at their prime as they supply the force to push the air.  The power supply of the abdomen will be consistent and controlled.

To learn more about the diaphragm and how it works see the video at this link.  https://youtu.be/hp-gCvW8PRY

Proper breathing techniques for singing

To be able to sing we must adjust our breathing.  Normally we take about ten to twelve breaths a minute.  In singing we may only take six to eight breaths per minute, depending on the song.  So, we must make some adjustment in our breathing.

At the outset we know that we shall have to take deeper breaths.  Since singing prolongs the phonation of the word we shall need more air.  Most people in this situation respond by raising the shoulders and lifting the chest.  This is not the best means to get more air into our lungs. Lifting the chest and shoulders does not lower the diaphragm.  So we end up filling the tops of our lungs. But if we inhale that breath by flexing our diaphragm we shall get much more air in and available for singing.

So, the shoulders should remain erect, as if against the wall.  Make your  chest should feel like it is raised and locked in place.

How to develop correct breathing technique

How are we going to develop the feeling of inhaling deeply to fill our lungs to capacity?  One of the ways that I find helpful is to force myself to yawn. When you yawn you automatically inhale.  When you inhale through a yawn you will feel your abdomen expand. It does it automatically. The way to develop this technique is to make yourself yawn a lot and get to know what it feels like.  Then as you learn you will be able to do it whenever you desire.

This is a good thing because as you develop your voice and singing you will find the same muscles of the yawn will affect the extension of your range.  Get an early start.

Breath control for singing through good posture

To begin to develop control over our breathing do this exercise.  If you have one, use a metronome. If not, just think of one count per second.  Inhale over 3 beats. Then do a hiss sound (ssss) for 10 beats. Do this five times.  As you have opportunity you can increase the (sssss) to 12 seconds and the 15 seconds.  After a while you will be able to extend it even longer.

Another exercise is the “yawn” that I mentioned above.  Yawning will cause you to take very deep breaths. If you can make yourself yawn five times and get that feeling in you mind, you will see much improvement.  As you progress try to keep that yawn feeling even as you exhale or as you sing. You will soon find yourself singing longer phrases without a breath.

Gaining control of your breath will be a big step in gaining control of your voice.  When you get to that point you will begin to see improvements in your singing like never before.  And it will become much more enjoyable to you.

Right posture, right singing

I hope that you are beginning to see the importance of good posture in singing correctly.  If you do not learn the way to use your vocal instrument, you will be damaging it instead of building it.  Too many enthusiastic musicians start with a natural talent but do not train it properly. I have known of many who have lasted for a while and then have lost their voice through misuse.  They did not build their instrument wisely.

I encourage you to use wisdom as you begin to develop your voice.  We shall be sharing wisdom that I have gained over 50+ years of singing.  We shall give you the tools and the direction to help you enjoy your singing and share it with others.

How to improve singing
Good breath control

 

To read more about singing and developing your voice you can go to these sites.    HERE         HERE             HERE

 

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