Discovering Your Voice

Think of a song that you like and hum a few bars of it. Try to feel the sensations in your cheeks and nose and any other sensations in your face or throat. Keep your teeth apart while you hum. You should try to feel like you are yawning inside your mouth. Put a hand on  your Adam’s/Eve’s apple and try to feel that it is relaxed and low. No tension allowed there! Put more breath through your hum keeping all of these things in mind. You may start to feel extra vibrations called a vibrato. This is a natural sensation that means that you have completely relaxed your voice and are singing in the most healthy way for it. This is one of my favorite ways to warm-up and really explore the way my voice fits inside my instrument’s natural space.

The great thing about singing is it facilitates a level of body awareness that is otherwise hard to understand. After you start singing for a while you start to detect any discomfort in your face or throat and with the proper exercises you can start to alleviate that discomfort. Here are some stretches you can try out before singing or even just at the start of your day.

  1. Reach your hands up as high as you can you should feel it in your shoulders and upper back.
  2. Reach up as if your holding a large beach ball and bend at the sides and feel the stretch in your sides and rib-cage.
  3. Put your hand onto the side of your neck just above your clavicle and turn your head to the side feeling the stretch from the base of your cheek all the way down to the top of your shoulder.
  4. Breathe in as if you are sucking quickly through a straw then breathe out as if you are yawning, this will stretch and relax your larynx
  5. Breathe in on a nice yawn and then breathe out sticking your tongue out all the way, this will also relax your larynx and stretch the soft palette and tongue.

These will help you stay vocally healthy, relax your neck, larynx, and resonant space. These will help more than just singing as well! Talking is one of the hardest things on your voice, much more than singing in fact. If you ever have a big presentation, or a long day of customer service work, or anything where you need to speak a lot these will be a great help in decreasing fatigue.

Now hear are some good warm-up exercises that can help you explore your instrument and begin getting your voice placement in a healthy and comfortable place.

  1. Hum up a perfect fifth, which is the same interval as the first two notes in twinkle twinkle little star, slide up through the notes and back down. Don’t go too fast or too slow on this one. Let yourself feel buzzing in your nose and cheek bones.
  2. Now blow a raspberry on the same interval. Up and down smoothly. This can be hard for some people so if you need, you can put your fingers on the corners of your mouth to keep the muscles tightened. Make sure you are putting a lot of breath through this one. You’ll feel a lot of tingling in your nose and cheek bones after this.
  3. Using a comfortable vowel such as ee (usually ladies prefer this one) or ah (usually men prefer this one), sing a major triad, otherwise known as a major chord, a musical example would be the chorus in “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” by the Beatles. On the triad hold that top note and then go up another step and then back down the triad. This will help stretch your range a bit so those high notes can start getting easier.
  4. Sing down a major scale and then up the scale to the fifth on an ooh. If this helps you would be singing Do Ti La So Fa Mi Re Do Re Mi Fa So Fa Mi Re Do. This one should be started somewhat high in your range. This will help smooth out the different parts of your voice. For males falsetto and for girls your high voice, or head voice, should start to kind of blend into your lower voice. Your voice will probably crack on this one but that is okay. Let it happen and work to mitigate that until it is mostly gone. This will help ease all sorts of tension and it’s my personal favorite warm-up.

You should have a good place to start for improvement now! Something else to start understanding about your voice is that you aren’t going to be amazing immediately. This is a never ending journey. You won’t sound like Justin Timberlake or Adele overnight. It is totally okay to try and sound like them if that’s what you want, but just remember that your voice is always going to be unique and that is okay.

Learning anything new can be frustrating at times, but if you take it in stride, day by day, you can allow yourself to improve and really start enjoying the instrument that your were given!

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