My training, and teaching, in voice and vocal health comes from a long line of teachers who believe in muscle release and vocal relaxation. Instead of controlling your instrument like a scared dog, you train your pet to be an amazing, protective, loyal, and affectionate companion. It all starts with breath.
Here are a few exercises to help with releasing your breath, instead of controlling it. If you can master these, then you will be able to hold notes longer and relax your voice into guiding you through difficult songs and health complications:
v Drop and Pop: start seated with your head low (like you are about to crash on an airplane) and pop up (sitting straight up in your chair) with a gasp and sing. This is to simulate the same natural reaction we make when we come up from under water for a long period of time.
v Sit Stand: same as above, but going from sitting to standing. This one is a little tougher because you have to prep to stand.
v Jaw – Vise (knuckles on chin): Hold your jaw still (teaching your body to muscularly avoid TMJ) and use your breath to control volume instead of forcing your jaw up or down.
v Finger under chin: So the jaw doesn’t pull. Pretty close to the same as above.
v Lip trill: While doing scales, if you notice that your lips stop, you are not sending enough air (what’s awesome is you’ll find it is right at your problem areas).
v Roll Rs: same as above
v DEEP JAW MASSAGE: We get in our own way sometimes. If there is too much tension in your face, you won’t be able to use your breath to its fullest potential. Give yourself a little (painful) massage.
v CHEEK BONE MASSAGE: same as above
v Sit back: standing with one foot slightly behind the other, when going for a hard note, press into the back foot.
v Twist: This exercise is primarily to retrain your breathing. You first breath in on the twisting and then sing while twisted. Do this seated in a chair. After you’ve done one vocalization, reverse the breathing/singing (breath while twisted and sing while untwisting/twisting). It is important that you do this in THIS ORDER!!!
v Focus on the upper jaw opening: Lots of teachers prefer to teach from a place of visualization. This one is great for breath release.
This, in no way, replaces the need for vocal coaching. Please do consider getting a voice teacher or having your voice teacher guide you through additional breathing activities.
Remember that while you are singing you don’t push air or control it. You move air and release it in order to tell a story.
Everyone should learn to sing,
be it the song of a lark or the night owl.