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Singing with gusto

Rabid_LlamaRabid_Llama Registered User
edited April 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I am going to be playing the lead role in my high school's upcoming musical, Little Shop of Horrors.

From what our director says, I have a great voice but I need to work on getting more volume into it. After all, I am going to be singing, un-mic'd, to a huge room of people and I will be singing over the band on top of that.

So, I was wondering if anyone around here knew any good singing exercises or had some tips on how I can get some more volume out of my voice.

Rabid_Llama on
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Posts

  • MishraMishra Registered User
    edited April 2007
    You want to project from the diaphram. Try takeing a really deep breath in, then forcing all the air out of your lungs. Try to hold this exhale as long as possible. Now of course all that extra air will affect how you sing, so once you get used to the feeling of engaging your diaphram be sure to try singing while doing this. Warmups will do at first then move on to actual lyrics. You may need slightly alter how you say things. You can notice this when drill instructors yell at people. Attention is pronnounced Ten Shut for example. The A requires breathing in which will destroy your volume. As with anything practice practice practice.

    "Give a man a fire, he's warm for the night. Set a man on fire he's warm for the rest of his life."
    -Terry Pratchett
  • GlaealGlaeal Registered User
    edited April 2007
    ^What he said.

    Power in singing comes from your diaphragm, not your throat. Practice deep breathing. Also, sing short scales, progressively higher and higher up your range, singing as loudly as you can comfortably sing.

    The important thing is to practice singing loudly, but never force notes.

    Qingu wrote: »
    In fact, there was never any decree by God through the Prophet that they couldn't recieve the priesthood.
    The last nine words of this statement are unnecessary.
  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Not sure if it applies to singing but i remember a bit about breathing when playing a wind instrument. For a lot of people taking a deep breath means your chest will expand and your shoulders will lift. What I was taught is to focus on taking deep breaths "with your belly". Chest and shoulders move as little as possible. Belly expands to let the air in, and then belly contracts to push the air out.

    PSN / XBL: PatParadize
  • GlaealGlaeal Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Fireflash wrote: »
    Not sure if it applies to singing but i remember a bit about breathing when playing a wind instrument. For a lot of people taking a deep breath means your chest will expand and your shoulders will lift. What I was taught is to focus on taking deep breaths "with your belly". Chest and shoulders move as little as possible. Belly expands to let the air in, and then belly contracts to push the air out.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoracic_diaphragm

    :P

    Qingu wrote: »
    In fact, there was never any decree by God through the Prophet that they couldn't recieve the priesthood.
    The last nine words of this statement are unnecessary.
  • FireflashFireflash Montreal, QCRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Yeah i know it's the diaphragm.. but it's a harder to visualise using your diaphragm than expanding your belly :P

    PSN / XBL: PatParadize
  • naporeonnaporeon Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
  • Rabid_LlamaRabid_Llama Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Sounds like good advice. Is there anything else I can do to build the diaphragm muscles up a bit? Would that even help?

    I am leaving for practice in a few minutes and will let you guys know how it went once I get back later tonight.

    /sig
    The+Rabid+Llama.png
  • SlagmireSlagmire Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Breathing exercises help out a bit as well - taking a deep breath (lasting 4-5 seconds), hold it in for 1-2, then exhale out (not all at once, try and make the exhale last as long as you can). In an earlier life, I was a music major and we had to sing... I naturally hated it because I was lower brass, but that helped me out a lot and I actually got accolades afterwards.

    Also, be sure to do your scales -- it's massively important to be in tune.

  • Captain AwesomeftwCaptain Awesomeftw Registered User
    edited April 2007
    One of the best things I learned in vocal training was to use bilabial trills to build up your diaphragm.

    To simplify that huge term, a bilabial trill is when you blow air through both lips to make them buzz together, sort of like if you were making that "brrrbbb brrbr" noise to mimic a car engine or something. Wikipedia has an article with a demo sound clip: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bilabial_trill

    Do that, and then do scales while doing bilabial trills. So blow out to make that noise, then alter the pitch to move up and down scales. Do it along to a piano if you have to to keep on pitch.

    At first, you'll probably not be able to do them simply because you'll be to busy laughing your ass off. You're gonna look and sound like a retarded monkey when you're practicing these. But keep at it: It takes such a massive amount of breath to sustain the trill for any length of time that practicing these will really improve your vocal sustain and control.

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  • OrogogusOrogogus San DiegoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2007
    Aside from the diaphragm thing, some other tips:

    - You want to use your nasal cavity as the resonating space, not the throat or mouth. I don't really have advice on how to do this, though. You want to get the feeling that you're getting all the air from your diaphragm and sending it to your nose or forehead. Kind of.
    - Try to keep your chin down, as this helps with the above.
    - Keep your throat open, and especially don't let it close up when you hit the higher notes. This involves raising the soft palate towards the back of your mouth when you sing.
    - Keep the tongue on the bottom of your mouth, too, and imagine breathing out over your top teeth.
    - Purse your lips and make an "O" for basically any syllable that will let you do so.
    - Focus your sound, as if you were aiming your voice at a distant point.
    - Stand up straight, but relax your shoulders back.

  • LiveWireLiveWire Registered User
    edited April 2007
    About breathing:
    Lie down on your back and put a book on your stomach; try to raise and lower the book using your breath. This will give you a sense of correct form. Your gut area is where the air you take in should be going -- not your chest! If you notice your chest or shoulders rise, your voice will sound much shallower. If you breathe in and it looks like you just grew a beer gut, you're doing it right. As you sing, concentrate on your stomach receding back to its resting position. I think of the whole breathing/singing thing as one apparatus: a billow (your stomach) with a whistle at the end (your vocal chords). Expand the billow, take in air, contract the billow, expel air. Notice that its not "expel air, billow contracts as a result". In other words, resist the temptation to let your throat area be the control center when you are singing."You sing by deflating your stomach" is a rather correct way to look proper form.
    Orogogus wrote: »
    - You want to use your nasal cavity as the resonating space, not the throat or mouth. I don't really have advice on how to do this, though. You want to get the feeling that you're getting all the air from your diaphragm and sending it to your nose or forehead. Kind of.

    This is good advice when singing in the higher end of your range, where you will be in what is referred to as "head voice". The lower range of your voice should resonate in your chest. That should happen naturally. For singing in head voice, it gets a little tricker. When I am up in my higher range (for me, middle B through Db) I try to imagine that my mouth is where my nose is; like I'm singing out of my nose. In other words, do what you can so that you send that vibration (the vibration in your head you get naturally when you sing a high note) into boney part of your nose. Right now open your mouth and put your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Send a jet of air out of your nose and make a "HHMMM" sound as close to the same time as you can. This should hopefully approximate the sensation of having that sort of resonate vibration in your nose. Really though, if I were you I wouldn't burden myself too much about applying this. Just get the idea and move on.

    You should also maximize the vertical space in your mouth. Right now as your read this, smile with your mouth open. Avoid that posture. Now pretend your at the dentist. That is the posture your should be going for (don't open as wide as possible, just a little more that what feels natural.)

    Main thing is, breath with your stomach and keep your "voice box" as relaxed as possible when singing. If your straining and pushing to get high, its just going to sound terrible. Take a deep breath with your stomach, drop that jaw down and try again.

  • AnomeAnome Registered User regular
    edited April 2007
    I don't sing a lot, so I can't help much with that, but years of flute playing have taught me a lot about breathing, and there are some good exercises/tips that I've learned:
    -lying down with a book on your stomach that was just mentioned is a really good idea
    -pay attention to how your throat opens when you're yawning. You want to try to be able to create that openness when inhaling
    -when standing with good posture, put your hands palms down on your stomach with the fingers facing each other, lightly interlocked. When you breathe in, focus on them separating. It's a good visual clue (like the book thing) that you're breathing correctly
    -breathe in while slowly counting to four, then out for four. Then breathe in for 4 out for 8, 12, 16, etc. to build control over your breathing
    -when you're singing, don't push yourself to the absolute limit in terms of how much air you have left. If you're just "sucking fumes" your sound will be weak and your next breath in will be gaspy. Instead look in your music and find out where you need to breathe and where it makes sense in the music (try to avoid doing it in the middle of a word, for example) then mark it and stick to your markings

    One of the most important lessons I've learned about performing anything is confidence - if you believe that the sound you're about to make will be brilliant, it most likely will be. Hear the sound in your head before you make it out loud, and know exactly what you need to do. If you let nerves get to you, your sound will be weak and scared sounding. If you sing with confidence, it will be strong and it will sound right, often even if you're wrong. If you're going to make a mistake anyway, you may as well fool some people into thinking it was right. For all they know, it is.

  • Rabid_LlamaRabid_Llama Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Practice went a lot better last night, and today we are working on one of my solo songs so I will be getting a lot of individual attention from the voice coach. I think we are going to be focusing and projection and breathing, so hopefully the advice helped as much as I think it did.

    You guys have been great, thanks!

    /sig
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  • DynamiteKidDynamiteKid Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Singing loudly and sounding good are of course different things. Having the volume isn't enough because you can still sound like crap. You have to make sure you keep your nuances when you reach the higher volumes.

    As for volume, you have to make sure that when you sustain, forcing more air out of yourself doesn't do the job. Some people think that if you're losing a note, forcing more air out will make it last longer. Even if it does, it doesn't last long and it'll generally force your note. Make sure to control your breathing so that it's even, so that the air comes out at an even pace.

    And don't let the voice coach talk you into only being able to sustain with vibrato, because that will cripple you. I know quite a few singers who can only sustain with a big, obvious vibrato on it and as such can't sustain a clean note, which limits them massively. Be sure to learn to sustain cleanly first and then learn to control a vibrato.

    I'm not sure how much of that directly answered your question, but it's just stuff that helped/helps me out.

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  • Rabid_LlamaRabid_Llama Registered User
    edited April 2007
    Just got back from practice, things went well. My breathing was better but it is still somthing I need to work on. I ended up laying on the floor and singing the song, which really helped me get the feel of using the diaphragm to do the work. Also I was concentrating on where my voice was resonating and making sure it wasn't all in the throat.

    Both the pianist and the voice coach said there was tons of improvement so I think I am golden here guys. I plan on continuing to sing on my back with a book on my stomach to build that muscle down there and really get the power into my voice.

    That being said, I don't think much else can be said on this topic. I really appreciate all your input guys, thanks a ton.

    /sig
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