Keep your vocal instrument humming
Every exercise should have a purpose, a frequency, and duration.
Written by Jim Debusman. This guest blog post was originally featured in the March 2020 edition of the Cardinal Connection newsletter.
Choose your vocal exercises carefully
Your personal warm up should consist of more than just humming a couple of scales and singing "Heart of my Heart." The exercises you choose should have several common aspects, such as:
- activating your mind (fact: 80% of vocal warm-up is mental).
- incorporating exercises that reinforce techniques to help you work on areas of your voice that need reinforcing.
- singing exercises you know that will solve more than one objective.
- selecting exercises that will help you improve over the long haul.
Enhance your personal warm-up (you can even do this while driving!)
- Physically prepare the body.
Physically sit up in your car while you're driving, with both hands on your steering wheel.
- Always remember good breath support/management produces warm air.
Take slow deep breaths while you are driving with both hands on the steering wheel - I bet you won't chest breathe!
- Do some humming in the easiest part of your range first.
Extend your range higher and lower with good breath support or do some head-voice/falsetto soft singing.
If you are driving, don't try to sing over road noise at any time.
Note: You can do the above exercises without being in your car. Stand in your correct singer's posture and you can do all of the above as well.
Use different exercises to maintain interest
Every exercise should have:
- a purpose (Why should I do this specific exercise?)
- a frequency (How many repetitions should I do this exercise on each day?)
- a duration (How long will I need to do this exercise until it becomes a habit?)
I recommend the Society's "Improving Vocal Techniques Through the Warm Up" manual (stock #4068). It has excellent resources for a variety of quality exercises you can use as a part of your personal warm-up.
A productive personal warm-up and spending ten minutes on two of your chorus's or quartet's songs as well, is an important part of your continuing to be a better singer. You do not want to lose what you have gained in your voice and your music at the level you are currently at today.
Make each warm-up exercise meaningful, and there is no telling how much better an ensemble singer you will become by the time you can get back together with your friends at your chapter meetings.
About the Author
Jim DeBusman taught choral music and voice at both the High School and University level for twenty years. He then had the privilege of joining the Barbershop Harmony Society International Music Staff in June of 1985 and held that position for 25 years.
Jim has competed seven times in quartets and 25 times in five different choruses on the International Stage. He also has been the musical director and clinician for numerous Youth Festivals and choruses in his fifty plus years as a BHS member. Jim is retired as a Singing Judge after 32 years of service and was the former member of that category’s Board of Review.
He currently sings with the Circle City Sound Chorus in Indianapolis, Indiana.