As I mentioned before in this series, many of the exercises with do in class with Patrick exert an indirect influence on certain parts of the vocal tract. One example I mentioned in the past was the act of yawning or sobbing. Both take the larynx down and are good resources to have an experience of what we’re looking for (i.e. bring the larynx down). We don’t need to do anything else. When we yawn, the larynx automatically goes down. It cannot be any other way!
If you yawn and slightly close your eyes (as when sobbing), you will notice that the larynx goes even a little more down. You can try it yourself, putting one hand on your throat and yawning (and then closing a bit your eyes). You’ll notice a downwards movement at the level of the larynx. That might be one of the reasons why opera singers use that facial gesture when singing. Because it helps in keeping the larynx down (and that’s exactly what we want!).
The yawning and the sobbing are already good, but there’s more: the Spaghetti Slurp exercise 🍝. To try it, you need to place one hand in your throat and the other on your waistline, just below your ribs. If you do as you wanted to slurp a very long spaghetti very quickly (while making lots of noise) you’ll notice two things. First: your larynx will go down. Second: your waistline will expand outwards. In a single step, you’re activating both the breathing support and bringing the larynx down. That’s great!
All these exercises make it easier for us to understand where we are going. They give us an experience of something that, otherwise, could be difficult to get. Also, these movements happen indirectly. When we slurp spaghetti, we are not even trying to bring the larynx down. It just happens. That’s what we want to induce in our singing training and our singing practice. To bring more of this into our singing, to make it the new default.
The Eleventh Week of Practice
During this week, I have focused more on technique and exercises than on practicing the songs. Before was usually the opposite: I did my exercises, but then I would spend a lot of time practicing the songs (just because of being carried away 😅). Now that I have a slightly longer routine and have discovered the usefulness of all these exercises -seeing the results both during the vocalizations and while practicing the songs- I enjoy them more.
A big part of doing our practice is connected to the purposefulness of what we do. If we know why we do something, what for, it’s more likely that we are going to do it. And as soon as we start seeing the fruits of that in our practice or performances, we will be more motivated to keep doing more of that. It’s a virtuous cycle!
This is an exercise to practice vibrato and breath support at the same time. I’m switching among the vowels ‘O’ – ‘I’ and – ‘O’ over a fifth interval. During the past weeks, I had practiced the same exercise, but with one sound only. The goal is to artificially create vibrato by quickly going up and down and activating the diaphragm intently (feeling the outer movement by placing our hands below our ribs, on our waistline):
And this one is an arpeggio where I change from ‘I’ to ‘A’ over an octave. The idea is to keep the initial ‘I’ placement when I change to the second vowel:
That’s all for now! 😊