Always Seeking the Best Daily Vocal Exercises for Rapid Improvement
I'm in a hurry to get better at singing. I'm not young. If there's a best daily vocal exercise out there then I have to have it. I began a serious dedication to vocal training six and a half years ago, at the age of 49.
I won't stop until I've built my voice to it's fullest potential.
Singing my very best now occupies the top spot on my bucket list. I'm addicted to daily improvements in singing. Nothing in life brings me more joy.
Before I Discovered The Best Daily Vocal Exercise
For the first five years I made steady improvement. My rate of improvement accelerated each year as I grew in a few key areas:
- knowledge of vocal physiology.
- knowledge of different types of vocal exercises.
- learning to make my own custom mp3 vocal scales for training.
- experience gained from obsessive levels of training.
- how to better listen to my coach's instructions.
I was pleased with my rate of improvement back then. Yet I'm improving at ten times that rate now.
Know Your Vocal Problems Before You Try to Solve Them
As a general rule, you use different vocal exercises to solve different problems. The best exercises solve more than one problem at a time.
If you are training blindly, with little idea as to what problems you are trying to solve, you slow your growth rate.
Your problems may be like mine. You may also struggle for a while, as I did, with learning what problems you need to solve and in what order to solve them.
The main vocal problems I needed to solve:
- pressed phonation: my vocal folds push against each other too hard when I speak and sing.
- ventricular dysphonia: my false vocal folds, above the true folds, constrict to some degree at all times.
- awful breath management: pushing and forcing at times, weak and unsteady at times. Zero knowledge of breathing physiology.
- limited range: I had one bad-sounding octave with a massive strain build-up starting at middle C (C4).
- severe pitch problems: all over the place, usually flat.
- retracted tongue: this is common to native English speakers, especially Americans. My tongue wants to pull back and down into the throat.
- dead face: my phrase for describing flaccid face and head muscles while singing.
- excessive strain: everything forced, everything tight and too intense. This includes the jaw, tongue, neck and shoulder muscles. It included the muscles of the arms and the entire torso, too.
And this is the abbreviated list!
Little did I know that there was one exercise that could fix all my problems at the same time. Finding it changed everything.
Tweaking Your Exercises to Make Them Even More Effective
You can tweak your vocal exercises to make them more effective at solving your problems. Tweaking the same exercise can also change the focus on which problems are being solved.
Here are some examples of variations I make to turbo-charge my results:
- scale range: I use scales that range from the low bass range to the upper soprano range.
- dynamics: I work at different volumes, from breathy to full on.
- vibrational mode: I'm training both modes, M1 and M2.
- training posture: I use several different postures in my training. Examples are standing, sitting, squatting, against the wall, walking, etc.
You mix and match these tweaks to create dozens of effective variations of the same exercise!
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The Vocal Exercise I Use Daily to Rapidly Improve my Singing
We've arrived. And there's a twist.
It's not so much a single exercise as it is a device with which you can do dozens of effective exercises.
The device is often called Straw Phonation in Water. Here, I call it the Nebulizer, or "Star Maker".
At it's simplest, you put a short length of flexible silicone or vinyl tubing into a standard water bottle. You fill the bottle with only a small amount of water. You vocalize through the tube and into the water. Easy peasy.
- tube length: 14" to 17", or 35cm to 45cm.
- tube diameter: mine has an outside diameter of 3/8" (10mm) and an inside diameter of 5/16" (8mm). It's okay to use tubing slightly larger or small.
- water height: about 1 1/2" to 3" (4cm to 7cm), with the sweet spot about 2" (5cm). You can vary the water height for different training objectives.
Where to Find Your Silicone Tubing
I found mine at a local hardware store. They had rolls of it and you pay by length. It was cheap.
I live in Brazil and haven't purchased silicone tubing from Amazon. I've done a search to help you out, but understand that I've never ordered these to know for absolute certain. These are not affiliate links.
Possible Options from Amazon.com:
It's okay to buy more than you need. They're inexpensive. I keep one in the car and one in the house. I've built them for friends. They make great presents.
The Benefits of Vocal Exercises Using Straw Phonation in Water
I can't emphasize enough how powerfully transformative this device can be in the hands of a singer who knows how to use it. It has changed my life.
I'm always learning new ways to use it, too.
I will cover the benefits thoroughly in another post. Here's a short list of the results I've seen over the past 18 months in my own training:
- Massive increase in vocal range. I'm training comfortably over four octave and singing over three octaves.
- Rapid elimination of vocal strain and inefficient movement of muscles, limbs, articulators, etc.
- Remarkable improvement in pitch accuracy.
- Huge increase in vocal strength in both vibrational modes, M1 and M2 (what others call chest & head & falsetto voices).
- I'm developing better dynamic control, from soft tones to strong, edgy tones.
- Fast growing mastery of breath management.
In addition to the technical improvements, I'm happier, more confident and more secure in my singing.
What to do Next
The first thing you want to do is to make your Nebulizer. Find a length of silicone tubing of the size mentioned above.
If you're already comfortable with vocal training, then begin to experiment. You can even sing difficult songs through it with greater ease.
I do multiple training session per day with it anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. It's become the centerpiece of my training.
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!