Remembering the Basics

Weekly Teaching Tip Feb. 11, 2013

As teachers we are always trying to increase our knowledge and teaching. This is a good thing, however every so often I like to remind myself of the importance of “the basics” to help keep me grounded and to make sure that I am not getting carried away in “the mysteries of the voice” or getting so “lost in analyzing each tree that I can no longer see the forrest.”

My first and most important job as a teacher is to help each singer to get as comfortable as possible with as many notes as possible, so that he or she can sing more easily and confidently. This is accomplished by helping each singer #1, figure out where the transitions are in their voice, #2, figure out how to get through these transitions, #3, get smooth through these transitions, #4, get strong through these transitions, and #5, hopefully get to a point where the singer becomes so comfortable that they don’t even notice that they have transitions and the voice just becomes one long, smooth group of notes.

This comes back to me as a teacher recognizing if the voice is too “heavy, or too light” and giving exercises, vowels and consonants in the appropriate ranges to help the singer feel the proper balance in his or her voice. Remember that narrow vowels like “ee” and “oo” in higher ranges will encourage a singer to get more comfortable in their higher range, and wider vowels (such as “ah” and “oh”) with lower exercises will help the singer get more comfortable in their lower range. If I am constantly asking myself “is what I am hearing too heavy or too light?” and choosing exercises based on what I am hearing, I will be heading in a good direction that will be helping my student move towards a better balance and smoother transitions which will eventually the best thing I can do long term to help them become better singers.

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