Using Exercises Effectively

In order to use any vocal exercise effectively, several things have to happen. First of all, the person singing or the teacher has to decide what direction to take….we call this in Somatic Voicework™ “diagnosis”. We have to decide “what is going on here?” with the voice from a functional place. The first decision must be about registration. Is this a voice with two strong, functional registers? Do they seem equal? Are the low notes solid and the high notes easy? Is the middle undistorted and natural-sounding? How does the sound connect to the body? What is the posture like? Where and how does the person breathe?

Addressing these issues alone can be a very big task. If one register quality is missing, how can it best be coaxed into existence? If one or both registers needs attention (likely), which one is weakest? What would strengthen it? What else is out of balance due to this situation? (jaw, tongue, face, mouth, head, neck, upper chest, torso?) Is the sound nasal or breathy? Is it squeezed and held or flabby and under-energized? How do we address these issues with exercises? (That’s the first course of action, but not the only one).

And if the goal of the sound is not to make “resonance”, which in SVW it is NOT, then what should be the goal? What is a functional voice anyway? In order to measure disfunction, you have to recognize function first. One can never be too familiar with functional sound and its application to style. Health first, style second. When that is organized in the voice, the process can be reversed. That means that a singer with a really healthy, functionally varied voice, can adapt the voice to the style at hand without causing vocal distress. That happens only after the singer is skilled and experienced, and has the voice fully developed and available, a process that takes from 2 to 5 years of regular, disciplined technical work.

The exercises are simple. How we use them can be varied in multitudinous ways. In order to evoke the desired response from the vocal mechanism, we need to know what the result is before we ask for it. That’s the intention for the exercise — stronger high notes, a brighter vowel, a clearer middle voice, etc. After that, things get easier. If you need assistance, go to the Solution Sequence (for those who have completed Level II of my training), and look up the references.

If you enjoyed this post please like & share:

2 thoughts on “Using Exercises Effectively”

  1. “The goal in SVW is NOT to make resonance”

    Can you explain this? It seems that the beauty of the singing tone is created with resonance. Why would you not want to maximize this no matter what the style?

  2. You are a Saint. I am one of those singers who recognized how lucky I was that I never had classical vocal training. I taught myself to sing and performed in many bands over the years.

    I had my share of troubles especially when I was on the road, but I learned to pace myself accordingly. The sound man hated that I was always bugging him about not giving me enough monitor, and I refused to setup beside the drummer (I was on keyboard).
    I did go on to get my Grade 9 Western Conservatory voice when I was 36 and pregnant with my first child. I wanted to know what it was all about and prove that I could do it….and I did. I went on to study Bel Canto with a couple of teachers, but I really found my home when I ordered the Speech Level Singing program by Seth Riggs. I was so impressed with his program that I went on to get certified.

    I’m 49 now and singing better than ever. I am passionate about the voice and continue to go on learning. I hope to attend one of your workshops next summer.

    I am writing to express my joy in finding out about your program, and to share with you my support in bringing about “the change”.

    If there is anything I can do, or host, or support, in Ontario Canada, please let me know.

    I’m not the competitive type. I realize Seth’s program competes with yours, and may or may not be different in important ways. My goal is to study as much as I can including CVT and EVT. I’m sure there is useful information in every system that will help me teach my wonderful students.

    Susan McAllister-Bee
    London Ontario Canada

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *