Exercise range, the most important variable

Weekly teaching tip, July 18, 2011

As a teacher you have several different variables in putting together exercises for your student; vowel, consonant, scale pattern, range, exaggerated sounds, body posture, etc. Obviously vowels are very important because narrow vowels encourage more release (head) and wider vowels encourage more cord closure (chest). Consonants are very important because harder consonants (g,k) encourage more cord closure without giving the student time to “grab”, aspirates (sh, f) allow more air through and soft consonants (m,n) aloow a medium amount of cord closure, yet also give the student an opportunity to “hang on” to the cord a little longer and even “press in”. Obviously the scale pattern you choose is important. Extreme or exaggerated sounds can be helpful; “hooty” sounds can get the larynx down, and “nasty” sounds can get the cords thinned out and pressed together. Bending over can help reduce fear and tension.

However, of all the variables, thoe one I feel is really the most important and often the most overlooked is the RANGE of the exercise! You could give me any vowel, any consonant and any scale pattern and I could make it work for any voice with any problem if you allowed me to select the range at which I played the scale. Higher scales encourage more release, lower scales encourage more cord closure. Also, the direction of the exercise is very important. Starting high and coming down will help someone get more release and starting low and coming up will encourage singers to hang on more.

As has been mentioned before, if the teacher is always thinking “does the voice I am listening to at this very moment need more release or more hang” on and you are selecting exercises based on this you will always be headed in the right direction. And as the student improves, the adjustments will become more subtle and gradual until the voice is fully refined and balanced.

Happy Teaching and Keep Singing!!

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