Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Exploring Singing Basics 1: - Preparing to Sing

Exploring Singing Basics 1

Singing can bring incredible pleasure whether you wish to learn how to do so to forge a career or enjoy a new hobby. However, it can be difficult to know where to start because there is so much to learn. As Julie Andrews once sang, let’s start at the very beginning and that is preparing to sing. Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to get ready to sing and the information right here will point you in the right direction!

Why it is important to prepare to sing?

Would you run a marathon without doing any stretches? No? In that case, why would you start singing without doing the correct preparation? You shouldn't. In fact, preparation is just as important as singing for several reasons.

The first is because failing to warm up your voice can actually cause damage to your vocal chords and your voice. Singing without warming up could put undue stress on your vocal chords and give you anything from a sore throat and hoarse voice to longer lasting damage. Secondly, your voice will not be able to achieve the same sound if it is not prepared in advance.

General tips for singing preparation

There are plenty of ways to prepare when learning to sing, including plenty of specialized techniques for breathing, posture and other similar aspects of preparation that the professionals go for. So why not go straight for those, I hear you ask. Well, because of the wealth of techniques and preparation hints and tips that are out there, it is advisable that you choose those that suit you best.

Not every tip will suit everyone but, again, you have to learn the basics before you go into. There are some general tips that will suit everyone though and they can really help the muscles to relax and the vocal chords to release tension.

So what are these general tips? Well, they are really easy to take advantage of, cost very little (if anything) and can be enjoyed no matter where you are:

• Sip or gargle a glass of water that is at room temperature to release tension in your vocal chords. It will keep you hydrated too, which is important because singing does require great effort.
• Take 10 deep breaths to connect the chest with the throat and get plenty of oxygen into your lungs
• Laugh. Laughter will prevent stress creeping back into your voice when it's warmed up.
• Drink hot water with a tablespoon of honey. Obviously the water shouldn't be so hot that it burns your mouth but the honey is key because it will coat your throat and easy any strain and soreness already there.
• Finally, massage your throat gently, using two fingers to rub from just under your ears right around to your larynx in small circles. It will relax the throat and you as well!

The lowdown on warming up your voice

After outlining why it is important to prepare for singing, it is only fair that we discuss some basic methods of warming up. Preparing to sing starts with hydration and massage, amongst other things, but it continues with techniques that will warm up your vocal chords. Warm ups tend to fall into two categories - technical and creative. It is completely up to you which one you wish to follow. The list below will give you a few ideas but feel free to use your imagination or mix and match if you so wish:

• Stand with your feet in line with your shoulders. Bend at the waist and slowly roll down so that you stretch your spine on the way down. Allow your arms to hang down, reaching towards your feet but relaxed. As you slowly roll back up, make a mamamama sound and allow it to get slightly louder as you move upwards.
• Place your hands together in a praying position before slowly extending your hands forwards. Take a deep breath in and move your arms outwards until they are straight from the shoulders. Lower your arms and breathe out slowly. Repeat.
• Use the "ma-ma-ma-ma" and "me-me-me-me" sounds. Stand still and start at little more than a whisper. Close your eyes and imagine the sounds are coming from various parts of your body - chest, throat, shoulders, stomach etc - and vary their intensity and volume accordingly.

So there you have it - you know exactly what preparation you should undertake before singing and can relax your vocal chords. Anybody can follow these basic techniques and prepare for singing properly. There is no excuse to cause unnecessary damage to your vocal chords and throat. You cannot go wrong with the fundamentals of preparation listed above.
Until next time!

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