Monday, November 18, 2019

Mind the gap between warm up and song: how to ensure vocal technique gets applied

I know an experienced choir leader who has developed problems with his voice.

Although he was aware of his vocal technique during warm ups, it all went out the window when he came to sing. How can you avoid that?

It’s easy to fully participate in the warm up and vocal development exercises in your choir, but then forget to apply the proper techniques to your singing.

The choir leader I mentioned was shocked when he realised that he might have damaged his voice by not practising what he preaches.

self-awareness vs self-consciousness

If you’re constantly thinking about vocal technique when you’re singing then it’s easy to become self-conscious. Your focus goes inwards and you forget about what you’re actually singing. You stop communicating with the audience and stop listening to your fellow singers.

On the other hand, if you have no self-awareness at all and get ‘lost’ in the song, it’s easy to forget about correct posture, vocal placement, breathing, etc.

It’s all about balance.

You shouldn’t ever consciously apply technique when you’re performing. But it’s possible to check in now and again whilst rehearsing. Then your technique becomes second nature.

for singers

Rehearsals are the place to consciously remember correct vocal technique. Check in with yourself from time to time whilst singing and make any necessary adjustments.

You won’t be able to apply everything at once or you will become overwhelmed. Pick a different aspect of technique for each rehearsal or each song. Choose those areas that you know are weak spots for you. That might be posture/tension or breathing for example.

for choir leaders

It’s easy to separate warm ups from singing songs. It’s your job to make the connection between the two.

You might include specific vocal techniques in the warm up which apply to the songs in that rehearsal.

If you know, for example, singers are having difficulty sustaining long legato passages, then focus on breathing exercises in the warm up.

If singers are complaining about sore throats after a particularly loud song, then work on vocal placement and relaxation in the warm up.

It’s also a good idea to mention different aspects of correct vocal technique throughout the rehearsal. Remind the singers to check in with themselves now and again. Don’t overload singers, but pick one vocal technique (maybe one you’ve focused on in the warm up) for each song or each rehearsal.

Remember to constantly make connections between that rehearsal’s warm up and the songs you’re singing. They should not be separate activities.

developing good habits

For both singers and choir leaders, what you’re trying to do is to develop good vocal habits that become second nature. Then you can sing in performance with consciously having to think about vocal technique.

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Chris Rowbury




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Chris Rowbury


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