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Art of Vocalization

Presented by:
Erika Joy Javier
Judesio Maraat
Is it boring?
We need to stretch and relax the muscles
before we sing, just as we would warm up
before going for a run or lifting weights.
Warming up loosens those muscles, helps to
remove excess mucous and reduces the risk of

gentle exercises that put as little pressure on the

muscles as possible
release any tension in the throat and neck and
allow only a small amount of air to pass through
the vocal cords
Humming and using lip trills

(As you progress through your warm up you can

introduce more air flow and produce sounds that
are closer to the normal singing of words and
phrases that you are used to.)
One important point to note is that our vocal
cords (VOICE) and our breath (AIR) should
preferably be in balance with each other when
we are singing, and one cannot do without the
Are the singers using a 'spread mouth
Solution: Have the singers inhale with the
fingertips over the mouth. This should be
done with the mental image of 'vacuuming in
the air'. The result will be the proper mouth
position for pronouncing within text. This can
be accomplished by teaching the singers to
pronounce with Italian consonant function,
i.e. the tongue working separate from the
Are the tenors and sopranos opening
their mouths 'too early in the scale'?
(This causes a gag reflex in the root of the tongue that
cuts off the upper range and creates 'shrill tone'.)
Tenors and sopranos should have only about a
'forefinger's width between the teeth' until about
high D or E-flat on the upper end of the staff.
Solution: Have the singers vocalize all 5 vowels while
placing the forefinger between the teeth. This will
give the singer a sense of pronouncing with the
tongue MORE than the jaw. It will also encourage the
singers to make the space 'inside the pharyngeal
Are the singers producing their sound
with the 'jaw slightly down AND
The 'back position' of the jaw encourages the
larynx to 'float' in a slightly lower position.
(This is not to be confused with a 'depressed
Solution: Have the singer place the forefinger
tip slightly behind the upper teeth in a
vertically straight position. The jaw will find a
'relaxed back position' which creates more
acoustical space in the throat.
Is the posture of the back open or
Solution: Have singers vocalize against a wall with
the feet slightly away from the wall. Have them
breathe a small amount of air into the 'lower
back'. Then as they vocalize, have them press
the back into the wall further; this creates the
proper 'support of tone'. The back should press
further into the wall as the singers go higher and
keep the support of the high note on while
descending. As a standing posture, singers need
to keep a slight 'bend' at the hip sockets as
though they are about to snow ski.
Does each singer know the concept of
really dropping a low breath at
Solution: While sitting on a straight chair, have the
singers lean slightly forward from the hips. Then have
them 'relax the abdominal wall completely' so the
new breath will drop low in the body. The sensation
will be that the breath comes into the body 'all
around the waist' as well creating the feeling of 'filling
an inner tube' around the waist. Then have the
singers make a 'hissing' sound to learn the proper
sense of support of tone. The 'hissing' creates the
antagonistic pull in the lower body muscles which
creates support of tone. Standing posture needs to
have a 'slight bend at the hip sockets'.
Are the lower voices over-dark and
Solutions: Vocalize the lower voices on the 'ng'
sound as in the word 'singing'. As with the
tenors and sopranos, make sure the jaw is
slightly back. Have them image that the vowels
are produced behind the tongue with the
tongue achieving a 'forward' position in the
mouth. Also, make sure the singers are not
'over-opening' their mouths in the middle
register; this also creates an overly-dark and
hooty sound. The tongue goes into a 'gag reflex'
when the mouth is too open too early in the
Do the lower voices 'cut out' in
volume as they sing low?
Solutions: Lower tones MUST be sung on
resonance in order to have presence and 'sound'
in the concert hall or theatre. Again vocalize the
singers in the lower extremities on the 'ng'
sound along with the small Italian 'u' vowel. Be
sure their heads are not 'depressing the larynx'
as they sing low. The 'depressed larynx' (chin
buried into the neck) makes more sound inside
the singer's ear, but 'cuts out the volume' to the
Are the singers 'blowing too much air pressure'.
This will 'cut out' the overtones in the voice
and create a smaller sound, even though the
singers get a bigger sound in their inner
hearing. Teach them to 'feel the sensations of
the ng' rather than 'listening for a big sound'.
The result will be a larger choral sound. Use
the idea of having them vocalize against a
wall while breathing into the lower back and
then supporting into the wall further.
Again, are their mouth openings too
Solutions: Have the singers pronounce through the
shape of an 'o' vowel. This will encourage the tongue
to do most of the pronouncing as in the Italian
language. Pronouncing this way also creates much
more legato line. Also use the previous idea of having
the singers pronounce the 5 vowels with the
forefinger tip between the teeth. Also use the Italian
'u' as a reference point in alignment of vowels. Use a
sequence of vowels starting on the Italian 'u'. Have
the singers keep the 'feel of the u' as they go to the
other vowels. This will also help choral blend.

Exercises that Create a Healthy Vocal

1, 3, 5, 3, 1. a, o, u, o, a. (This simple exercise
will begin to allow the singer to assimilate the
idea of 'narrowing' the vowels as they go up
instead of spreading. This is good for volunteer
choirs because it involves less range.)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. similar results as the
number 1. Be sure the singers keep the jaw
somewhat down and 'flip' the l's. The tongue
should function separate from the jaw.)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
5......5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 u..... i..e..a..o..u............
(This exercise shapes the pharynx in a healthy
acoustical space for all vowels. Use the idea the all
the vowels keep some of the 'u' feel in the throat.)
1.......(oct. up), 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
a.......u.............................(Exercise is intended to help
singers discover more head voice in their quality and
to blend the registers more smoothly.)
1..3..1 o..u..o (Have the singer feel as though the larynx drops
slightly as they sing the 'u' vowel. This will begin to help them
discover a 'lower larynx' position. Vennard calls this the laryngeal
pivot or 'rocking' of the larynx. Use this exercise only in the
middle range.)
1..3..5..oct..3rd above...oct..5..3..1 a..e..i..o....u...........o....a..e..i
(This exercise is designed to allow a lower larynx while going into
the upper range. The 'o' and 'u' vowels are lower larynxed vowels
and performing this exercise will help the singers not to create a
'spread and shrill sound in the higher register. The jaw should be
somewhat stable encouraging the singer to pronounce with the
tongue separate from the jaw.)
5....5..4..3..2..1 ng...a............(Exercise allows for the 'ng' ring to
thread into the form of the vowel. Use the vowel modification of
'aw' for the 'a' if it is too spread.)