My book for women singers, “Sopranos Are Not Pianos – How vocal magic happens for women singers,” should be published and ready by April 11, 2015. In the book, I discuss some of the ways my VOGA methods have helped students recover their voices.
I’ve designed my VOGA™ warm ups to gently align the body, breath, voice and posture. You don’t need musical training to do them. Some of these warm ups are done sitting. Done for even a minute or just 30 seconds before a test, will help calm the mind and the nervous system. I show students to focus on the quality and duration of the exhale, rather than the inhale – or incoming breath.
There is a complex network of coordination between the mind, body, intuition and emotion that is necessary for singing. Many students put in long hours to prepare for exams, and accumulate stress in their body which affects them negatively when the test occurs. Performers, sales people, teachers, parents experience high-pressure situations. Singers are definitely in this category, and have even more stress when they perform. Having a way to handle the anxiety or adrenaline that arises before performing is essential.
Even if my students are not going to become professional singers, they can use my simple and easy warm-ups for daily stress management. These methods improve and refine healthy vocal function. They can be done sitting in a chair, or quietly before a test. Some of these warm-ups are vocal and some are gentle movements/poses.
My VOGA warm-ups create an expansion of energy, better vocal resonance and mental focus. This gives you a feeling of confidence. You need confidence to perform!
As a vocal specialist, I help my students identify and correct ongoing tensions in the upper body – specifically the shoulders, neck and jaw. Tensions or imbalances in these areas affect the relaxation needed for throat and breathing system. For opera singers, these tensions must be eliminated, less so for certain styles of rock or musical theater singing. Generally the more you have tensions or constrictions in your singing body, the more your voice and energy are compromised. Signs of tensions or imbalance might be visible or not so obvious. However, when the body is producing the voice with excessive force or tension, singing can become a painful instead of joyful experience.
It’s very important to help students with ongoing tensions in the neck and jaw. About 90% of students that I’ve taught during the past 20 years, in three continents have displayed some jaw tensions. This is just the way it is. However, I’m seeing more extreme tension in young children and teens, which is distressing. Fortunately, I have some great ways to help my singers learn how to keep their jaw muscles relaxed.
For an excellent article on the effects of TMJ on singers, see Diane Burt and R. Russel Burt’s article in the Sept. 2014 NATS Journal of Singing: “Temporomandibular Dysfunction and the Developing Singer” https://www.nats.org/cgi/page.cgi/_subscription.html
For another excellent article about the importance the pelvis, head and neck balance and coordination, I found Sean McCarther’s wonderful article excellent. The article has excellent visual diagrams of the singer’s posture and muscles. His approach to teaching students how to “cue” the best response from the muscles is similar to what I do. https://www.nats.org/cgi/page.cgi/_subscription.html
From NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) see the same edition.
Click here to see what some of my students say about vocal coaching.