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.


      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.

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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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
      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
      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
      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
      Ottava(High) - Thomas Harvey
      Ottava(Low) - Thomas Harvey



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

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