FINDING THE MOST IMPORTANT VOCAL TECHNIQUE TO MASTER
This post follows the prior post, The 3 Most Important Vocal Techniques to Master, and I strongly recommend you read it first.
The idea is simple and explained well in the above video lesson. The reasoning process goes like this:
- To sing a song correctly we must sing each and every phrase correctly.
- To sing a phrase correctly requires a clean onset. Blow the onset, you blow the phrase.
- A clean onset requires that two preceding techniques happen correctly in a fraction of a second just before onset.
- You must inhale correctly, which is likely more involved than you think.
- You must transition from the inhale to the exhale and onset of sound correctly, or you blow the onset.
The inhale is often neglected in vocal studies. It is taken for granted. I believe this is due to singers and coaches focusing mostly on the exhale. Also, they focus mostly on what happens below the vocal folds, where breathing happens.
The inhale is our opportunity to set things right for the coming phrase. There's more to it than taking in air.
I divide the inhale into three parts:
- What happens above the vocal folds.
- What happens below the vocal folds.
- The drawing in of air.
All three must be handled correctly in order to produce a clean onset for each phrase.
WHAT HAPPENS ABOVE THE VOCAL FOLDS ON THE INHALE
This is not a complete list. Further, each step on this list requires deeper exploration. I post these here not to teach you how to do them, but to make you aware of their importance so you can dive deeper.
Important "Mini-Techniques" or Building Blocks of the Inhale (above the folds):
- Nostril dilation.
- Cheek Elevation.
- Temporalis muscle activation (the "Face Lift").
- Tongue raised, forward and wide into the "NG" shape.
- Jaw raised into its pivot position, yet relaxed.
- Throat open and firm.
- False vocal folds fully open (deconstricted, retracted).
I have triggers that I use in my training that are training my muscles to do all of these things and more in one quick gesture. I do repetitive training to burn the new and better habits into muscle memory. It's working wonders!
WHAT HAPPENS BELOW THE VOCAL FOLDS ON THE INHALE
This is also not a complete list and each item requires a deeper understanding.
Important "Mini-Techniques" or Building Blocks of the Inhale (below the folds):
- Shoulder blades together and downward.
- Rib cage raised and open.
- Abs gently taut and ready to surrender.
- Body feels heavy and sunk into the ground.
- Slight tightening of gluteus and pelvic floor.
- Shoulders and elbows comfortably down and back.
Again, each of these, through intelligent repetitive training can be triggered by a single gesture until you do it on auto-pilot.
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THE INHALE - THE BREATHING PART
Even the simple act of taking in air demands a great deal of attention for those singers who are developing a large vocal range with full dynamics and all the bells and whistles.
This list includes the basic steps where I put my attention.
Important "Mini-Techniques" or Building Blocks of the Inhale - Drawing in Air:
- Inhale through the nose when possible, up and over the "NG" shape of the tongue.
- Inhale "deep down, back and wide".
- Seek excellent lateral and forward rib cage expansion.
As you learn to do these things correctly you must remain vigilant so as to not blow the next step, the turn into the onset!
MASTERING THE TURN FROM INHALE TO ONSET
As explained in the video, the highest priority during the turn is to maintain all that you set up on the inhale, above and below the folds.
Additionally, there are three important steps that are extremely important to learn. They can take years to master. Many singing students are never made aware of them.
Three basic building blocks to mastering the turn:
- It's critical to maintain a wide open throat.
- Ready the pelvic and abdominal muscles needed for exhale (activation is not the same as pushing out air, its preparation)
- Leaning of sternum (and entire rib cage) onto the lungs.
These two blog posts are meant to serve as a nice introduction to the art of phrase crafting. The takeaway is to see the big picture of the importance of phrase onset, which is preceded by an excellent inhale and turn into exhale.
What to do Next
Stay tuned. More articles and videos about the importance of breathing for singing are on the way. Be sure to make yourself a straw phonation in water device, which is explained in recent a recent blog post.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Leave any questions you have, too. I'll be posting more articles and demonstration videos soon, too.
Be Well and Train Hard!