9. Introduction to Lesson Plans
Lesson Plans Numbers 1 to 25
No. 1 Voice Classification
No. 2 Posture - Standing or sitting
No. 3 Normal resonance quality
No. 4 Vocal identity and normal quality
No. 5 "Nasal" resonance Forward-in-the-masque resonance
No. 6 Lip positions
No. 7 Enunciation - the production of vowel sounds
No. 8 Articulation - the production of consonants
No. 9 Pronunciation in singing
No. 10 Pronunciation - the attack
No. 11 How to exercise the singing voice vocalization Charts"
No. 12 The registers – registration
No. 13 Registration - the first lift
No. 14 Registration - the second lift
No. 15 The falsetto mechanism and the high voice mechanism
No. 16 Transition notes - covering or closing the vowel sounds
No. 17 Agility
No. 18 Dynamic control - loud and soft singing
No. 19 Inhalation - where to breathe for singing
No. 20 Exhalation - breath support
No. 21 Breath control
No. 22 Intonation - pitch accuracy
No. 23 "Open throat" versus "closed throat."
No. 24 Vocal hygiene - good vocal condition.
No. 25 Summary - Basic Theory: The Psycho-Physiological
The lesson plans which follow are revisions of the lesson plans taken from the book "Sing High, Sing Low" -A General American School of Singing. This book was published in 1948, and reprinted in 1956. It is essentially a class book for both students and teachers, while this is a teacher's manual.
The previous lesson plans were written for the most part without scientific explanations. These revised plans include, wherever possible, an explanation of the scientific principles involved.
Included in each lesson plan under procedure are techniques and suggestions that may be helpful in solving a particular problem. Additional ones may be found following Lesson Plan No. 25.
If the teacher is unable to demonstrate the procedures suggested, he should select one or more students who can be drilled beforehand to demonstrate them under his direction.
It is not to be expected that these techniques, devices and suggestions will be successful or even partly successful in all cases. As most teachers of singing are aware, what will work for one student may not work for another. Needless to say, they should be presented with a minimum of explanation. As the saying goes "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing" may be particularly true when applied to a student of singing.
Filmstrips and records suitable for class work are now available. They cover basic theories of quality, lip position, loud and soft singing, open vowel production and diction; posture, breathing, vocalization, agility, and range development. Address Indiana University Book Store, Bloomington, Indiana, for information.
Most teachers will question the teaching of singing in classes. They are of the opinion that each student is a separate entity and must be taught as such. The basis for this opinion is the theory of individual differences.
In contrast to this theory is the theory of individual similarities, which is, that every normal individual - child, adolescent, or adult, male or female - is vocally the same in part and tends to function in the same way.
Voice classes have many advantages, the most important of which is that they can cover the whole field of singing. Their weakness lies in the lack of individual attention. In contrast, the strength of the small classes or private lessons lies in individual instruction; their weakness, in the narrowness of their approach.
To function to best advantage classes in singing must operate on a basis of fundamental theories of voice production which can be applied to all types of voices. From this standpoint it is necessary to establish generalizations on the different aspects involved, such as voice classification, the basic quality to sing, the approach to a singing diction, a basic theory for range development, how to exercise the voice, where to breathe and the basis for breath support and breath control, and vocal hygiene.
In addition to what may be called the technical approach to singing, class procedures can be adapted to the study of stage deportment, interpretation and repertoire; to the study of phonetics applied to singing in foreign languages; to practice in sight singing; to the study of records of all types of singers as to technique and style; and last, but not least, to the use of much singing in unison.
Figure 3 - Voice Class
Class lessons in singing afford an inexpensive way for an individual to determine whether he has sufficient talent to warrant making an investment in private lessons. They also establish a background for students who are preparing to teach in the vocal field either as private teachers or as directors or choral groups. They also prepare students for the teacher of private lessons, who is limited in how much he can teach in the usual one or two half-hour lessons per week.
Lesson Plan No. 1
Subject: Vocal Tessitura.;
Explanation: (acoustical approach)
Voices are usually typed according to quality, or range, or both quality and range. The quality, however, may be immature, or influenced by the range which the individual usually sings.
Many students believe they have a high voice because they can sing high, or a low voice because they can sing low, or because they can sing with greater ease in one or the other. All voices should have both a high and a low range, and each voice should be allowed to classify itself, independent of the student's opinion of what type of voice he thinks he has or would prefer to have.
It is important first to determine where an individual can or should sing without strain. This is a matter of finding where the voice "lies." The word for it is "tessitura." Originally the term was applied to vocal music, and indicated where the music lay as to key and compass. Now it has been applied to both the music and the voice. The tessitura of the voice should fit the tessitura of the music, if the singer is to appear to best advantage. If the music lies too high, or if it lies too low, the singer may be under too much strain, or may be forced to change from his normal quality.
Some types of voices do not need to be classified, since they could not be any other type of voice than what they obviously are. This group includes high lyric sopranos and high lyric tenors, low contraltos and low basses. The great problem is in classifying the middle or mezzo voices, which seemingly can be one type or another, such as second, dramatic or mezzo sopranos; second, spinto or dramatic tenors; or high, lyric baritones.
A psychological approach to voice classification, or the problem of where the voice lies, can be based on the average pitch of the normal speaking voice, allowing for some variations in inflection. By "average pitch" is meant the pitch level around which one centers his conversational voice. By normal speaking quality is meant volume of average intensity, not too loud or too soft. If the average pitch level is below Bb, the voice may be classified as a low voice; if between Bb and D, the voice may be classified as a middle voice; if D or above, the voice may be classified as a high voice. These are approximations, and there will be exceptions. At least they afford us a place to begin.
This average pitch is usually an octave below the middle of what should be the singer's ultimate singing range of approximately two octaves. The average pitch also affords a starting point for vocalization, which should be practiced upward to cover the middle of the range. Exercising the voice on both sides of the middle will prevent the voice being limited to a low range or to a high range.
To classify each voice as to type - high, middle or mezzo, or low voice.
Procedure: (psychological technique based on speech)
If a male teacher and a male student:
Ask student to say his name without raising his voice.
Approximate the pitch of the student's voice by repeating his name on the same pitch, or by humming. Match student's speaking pitch with same pitch on the piano.
If a male teacher and a female student:
Follow the same procedure as above.
Match actual pitch of the singer's voice (female), which is actually an octave higher in his voice, with the piano.
If a female teacher and a male student:
Match actual pitch of the singer's voice (male), which is actually an octave lower in her voice, with the piano. Matching student's actual pitch is helpful in determining pitch to match with the piano.
Note: A scientific approach to voice classification by Raoul Husson, a French scientist, has recently been presented through the bulletin of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, May issue, 1957. This approach is based on a measurement of the minimum time value required in thousandths of a second, to stimulate action of the recurrent laryngeal nerve by a constant electrical current. The measurement is made by placing a cathode electrode in back of and below the ear on either side of the head. The cathode electrode completes an electrical circuit which stimulates the recurrent nerve through connective musculature. The circuit is connected with a chronaximeter, which measures the minimum necessary to stimulate the recurrent nerve. According to the Husson theory, these time values (chron-axies) reveal the type of voice, the lowest voices requiring the longest minimum time values, ranging to the highest voices requiring the shortest.
The Husson theory presents approximately 29 classifications of voices, compared to the acoustical approach which covers about 14. The scientific approach requires no hearing of either the speaking or singing voice, whereas the acoustical approach is based entirely on hearing.
Efforts have been made to classify voices according to the length of the vocal cords - short cords for high voices and long cords for low voices; also according to body type - the long angular type for low voices, and the short or rotund for high voices. These classifications have been thought to apply to both men and women. Husson does not believe that any such correlations exist.
Lesson Plan No. 2
Subject: Posture - Standing or Sitting
Posture has been defined as the relative arrangement of the different parts of the body.w
The generally accepted idea of a good standing or sitting posture - a proper alignment of the different parts of the body - is that it is conducive to good singing. Good posture also should reflect physical well-being and mental alertness.
A proper alignment allows the mid-section to expand between the breastbone and the waistline for deep breathing and controlled exhalation; gives the larynx freedom to maintain a flexible middle position for an unhindered emission of tone; permits the head to move without constricting the larynx; and allows the lips, tongue, and jaw to move (flexibly) in enunciation, articulation, and pronunciation.
Good posture - standing or sitting - is essential not only to a good appearance, but also to a flexible control of the vocal mechanism.
Problem: To establish good posture, standing or sitting, through the proper arrangement of the parts of the body involved.
Stand with head and body erect without strain. Carry chest high. Do not pull in mid-section.
Place hands in front at the waist, the back of one hand in the palm of the other, or hold hands relaxed at the sides of the body.
Stand with feet slightly apart, one foot ahead of the other, and weight resting on the ball of the forward foot.
When seated, carry erect position of head and body without strain. Chest high. Feet apart and flat on floor. When singing without music, place palms of hands on thighs. When singing with music, hold music with both hands. Avoid covering the face or obstructing the line of vision.
Avoid cramped positions, either standing or sitting, which may affect freedom of breathing mechanism either on inhalation or exhalation. Avoid pulling chin down so as not to depress the larynx. Avoid lifting the chin too high or tilting head back, actions which raise the larynx out of its normal position. The larynx should be free to maintain a middle position, which is the position for the production of normal quality. A high larynx is the position for the production of nasality and weak pharyngeal action. A low larynx produces a gutteral or muffled quality.
Good posture should be considered as an aid in co-ordinating the processes of respiration, phonation, articulation, and resonation, so that the best results can be obtained. (See goals and objectives.)
Good posture should not mean a stereotyped or fixed way of standing or sitting in all situations, except perhaps in choir or choral groups. The problem is to keep the vocal mechanism free and flexible whether the singer is standing, sitting, or in some unusual position. The singer should be aware of how much he can vary his basic posture without interfering with his basic normal vocal production.
Lesson Plan No. 3
Subject: Normal Resonance Quality.
Quality may be considered as the most important factor in an approach to the development of the singing voice. As the end product of the dynamic processes of respiration, phonation, articulation, and resonation, quality reveals how well those processes have been co-ordinated. On the basis of this evidence the teacher of singing can make his teaching approach.
The resonance qualities of voice may be listed as metallic, nasal, de-nasal, muffled, natural and normal. The vibratory or vocal cord qualities maybe listed as breathy, harsh, hoarse, and normal. These qualities may be considered as basic or fundamental.
At least fifty or more additional qualities may be listed which are derivations of the resonance and vibratory qualities: aspirate, brilliant, bright, breathy, chest, clear, coarse, dull, faint, falsetto, flat, flowing, full, golden, gutteral, harsh, hollow, husky, light, loud, manly, mellow, monotonous, oral, pectoral, pure, pleasing, piercing, pinched, piping, rich, resonant, rough, rasping, raucous, raw, sepulchral, sharp, shrill, silver, smooth, soft, sombre, sonorous, strident, thick, thin, throaty, trumpet, veiled, white.
Of the qualities listed, natural voice quality is usually considered as the most desirable singing quality. Natural voice quality, however, varies with different languages, and varies in this country as the dialects vary. There is, however, a preference for a particular quality which is natural and unaffected, a quality that is ringing and resonant. It is basically the result of an open tone or open vowel singing. The vocal mechanism responds best to this type of vocal production, resulting in what may be called normal quality, the quality that must be sung to reach the goals and objectives.
A psychological description of normal quality can be stated as follows: a ringing resonant tone with a cover of beauty and a ring or brilliance for projection.
A scientific description of good quality (baritone voice) has been stated by Bartholomew as follows: 1. an even vibrato of 6 to 7 cycles per second, which relieves the singer from strain, and imparts a certain warmth or richness to the tone; 2. an intensity of tone which adds vitality to the voice; 3. a low formant centering around 500 cycles or lower, which adds beauty and mellowness: and 4. a high formant centering around 2800-2900 cycles for men's voices, and approximately 3200 cycles for women's voices which adds ring or brilliance.
To establish a conception of normal quality in the student's mind.
Play records of outstanding artists, to include artists with similar type of voice. Attend concerts and operas to hear outstanding singers.
Play records of pop singers, ballad singers, hill-billy singers, hymn singers, and compare their basic quality of voice.
Make a tape recording of your own voice and classify your quality.
Lesson Plan No. 4
Subject: Vocal Identity and Normal Quality
The hearing of many different types of voices should bring out the fact that each singer has or should have his own vocal identity in his singing voice. The problem is to establish the student's identity in terms of normal quality. This is contrary to the general belief that no two singers have the same quality. The point is that basically normal quality should be the same for every one, but the vocal identity of each voice should be different.
Problem: To establish the vocal identity of a student's voice in normal quality.
1. Use the speaking voice to establish the singer's vocal identity.
Say the phrase: Tell me what time it is.
Repeat it faster and faster until it becomes sing-song. Now sing it slowly on one pitch.
2. Sing the following phrases to the tune, "The farmer's in the dell."
a. The singer's in his nose (very nasally) (in a metallic nasal or hill-billy quality)
b. The singer's in the well (in a big, mouthy tone) (in a muffled or rain-barrel quality)
c. The singer's in the bell (in a normal quality)
Figure 7 - Quality - Nose, Well, Bell
3. Listen to records of many different types of singers and see how many you can identify.
Lesson Plan No. 5
Subject: "Nasal" Resonance
Forward-in-the Masque (Face) Resonance
"Nasal" resonance has been accepted by many voice teachers as the normal resonance quality for singing or for speech. When properly produced, strong vibratory sensations are felt in the front of the face, or forward in the masque, or in the nasal passages, without the breath passing through nose except on the nasals sounds. This is in contrast to nasality where the same vibratory sensations are felt in the front of the face, but with the breath passing through the nose on all sounds. Nasality is considered to be an objectionable quality for singing or for speech, not only because it is not pleasant to listen to, but also because it interferes with normal voice production.
Many teachers are aware that this tactile sensation of singing forward is an illusion of what has been called nasal or head resonance. They are also aware that this illusion of forwardness makes possible not only a free and flexible throat but the open or big throat position.
Use the front vowels ee and ay, with the prefixes h and m.
Call loudly: Hee and Hay, and repeat several times. Mee and May, and repeat several times.
Say the word Hung, then sing Huh - without the -ng; then finish with a ng - ee and ng - ay. e.g. Hu—ng—ee, Hu—ng—ay
Follow with other combinations of hu-ng—ah, and hu—ng—oh, with mouth opened reasonably wide.
Figure 8 - Forward-in-the-Masque
The hum in ng should establish the tone as forward-in-the-masque. A strong enunciation of the vowel sounds, particularly ah or oh, should raise the soft palate to block off the nasal passages, and establish "nasal" resonance instead of nasality. Yawning is a physical device that may be used to raise the soft palate. The nose test - holding the nose closed with the thumb and fore-finger - should reveal by a change in quality whether or not breath is passing through the nose on the vowel sounds.
Lesson Plan No. 6
Subject: Lip Positions
In singing there are three basic lip positions that may be used, each dependent on the objective to be reached. They may be listed as follows: 1. lateral or smiling; 2. relaxed or dead-pan; and 3. puckered or open square.
The lateral or smiling position tends to establish a brilliant but comparatively thin resonance quality; the relaxed or dead-pan a muffled but mellow resonance quality; and the puckered or open square tends to balance the brilliant and the mellow qualities into what has been called "nasal" resonance.
The open square position is suggested as the basic position from which deviations can be made to the lateral to thin out the resonance quality when it is too heavy, or to the relaxed position, particularly in the high voice, when there is too much tension in the lips or lower jaw. The open square position is in reality an embouchure* for singers, controlled by the muscles of expression.
The open-square position might well be called the "bell position", having much the same effect on vocal quality as the "bell" on a musical instrument has on instrumental quality: it is in effect a small megaphone which keeps the sounds from dissipating, as well as making the tone sound more mellow. It also has the effect of making the tone sound forward. The openness of the lips minimizes their use in the pronunciation of the vowel sounds, particularly oh and oo. This tends to establish the pharynx - to include the oral pharynx, the back of the tongue and the velum (soft palate) as the enunciating mechanism of the vowel sounds.
Problem: To establish a pharyngeal enunciation of the vowel sounds in terms of "nasal" resonance (normal quality) by means of the open square position.
Figure 9 - Lip Positions
♦ The shaping of the lips in producing tone.
Procedure: See procedure under next lesson.
Lesson Plan No.
7 Subject: Enunciation - The Production of the Vowel Sounds.
A singing diction must have two outstanding virtues: it must be understandable and it must be pleasant to listen to. Normal quality based on an open-tone production has been advanced as the basic quality that listeners like to hear. There is a reaction of pleasure to this type of singing.
Understandability is dependent on an open vowel production, but it must be in terms of open tone in normal quality. As suggested previously, the singer's speech identity should be established in his normal quality, and it naturally follows that his singing diction be so established. That is to say, quality should come first and not diction. The high formant of normal quality with its ring and brilliance furnishes the basis for clarity of the vowel sounds, the low formant the basis for beauty and mellowness, intensity furnishes vitality, and the vibrato makes for easy and relaxed listening.
Open tone or open vowel production is dependent on a particular type of enunciation of the vowel sounds. This may be called pharyngeal enunciation. The back part of the mouth, to include the pharynx, or throat, the back part of the tongue, the soft palate or velum, and the epiglottis - all react to set up different shapes or forms which turn the phonated or unphonated breath stream into voiced or unvoiced sounds. This calls for great flexibility of this part of the vocal mechanism, particularly the pharynx - a muscular, membranous cone-like tube, which can be shortened, lengthened, tensed, or relaxed, and which extends from the top of the Adam's apple on the bottom, to the end of the nasal passages on top.
This flexibility is dependent on the "forward-in-the-masque" illusion, which not only keeps the swallowing muscles in the pharynx relaxed, but also keeps the breath flowing to balance the pharyngeal action.
Use the two affricates, the chin "church" and the sh in "sheep", and the consonant^ as in "judge" to establish an open puckered position of the lips.
Repeat the following words: Sheep; judge; church.
Use large mirror or small hand mirror to observe the form or shape of the lips. This lip position can be described as an open square or a bell shape or as a small megaphone.
Sustain the following tone syllables on one pitch, using care not to relax the open position of the lips: Jah
Chee - chay - cho Shee - shay – sho
Conclusion: The elimination of the use of the lips through the open-square position tends to bring in an enunciation of the vowel sounds by the pharynx as well as a forward-in-the-masque illusion of "nasal resonance."
Lesson Plan No. 8
Articulation may be defined as the production of consonants. Whereas enunciation has been defined as the production of vowels with clearness and fullness, articulation may be defined as the production of consonants with clearness and accuracy.
Vowels may be said to be the flesh and blood of words, and consonants the bones and cartilages that join the vowels into syllables and words. In the development of lyric or legato singing as the goal of good vocal production, the consonants should be articulated quickly and accurately, but should not be exaggerated. The ease with which they are articulated will be dependent on the freedom and flexibility of the articulators - the lips, tongue, soft palate, pharynx, and lower jaw. This freedom and flexibility will be dependent on a flexible pharyngeal production of the vowel sounds.
Problem: To establish a flexible articulation of the consonants.
Use nonsense syllables made up of different combinations of consonants and vowels, such as lah, lee, nay, bah, poh, too, first spoken and then sung on one pitch.
Practice the following consonants in syllables or words where they are in an initial position, later in medial and final positions.
- P, b, m, and w as in "which" and "witch." These are the bi-labial consonants.
- F and v, the lower lip articulating against the upper teeth.
- Th as in "the," and th as in "thin," the tip of the tongue touching in side the upper teeth.
- T and d, n, l, and ch as in "church," and j as in "judge," the tip of the tongue touching the upper gums behind the front teeth.
- S and z, tongue pointing forward but not touching the extreme front of upper gums; sh as in "shoe," tongue touching the middle of the upper gums; and r, tongue touching extreme back of upper gums.
- Y as in "you," tongue articulating against front (or hard) palate.
- K. g and ng, back of tongue articulating against back or soft palate.
- H, the aspirate or breathy sound, articulated in the throat.
Lesson Plan No. 9
Subject: Pronunciation in Singing.
It should be obvious that pronunciation in singing differs from pronunciation in speaking. In singing there is a delayed completion of the syllables or words to the point where the individual is singing tone syllables, not words. This does not mean that the singer is not thinking in terms of words, but that the process of sustaining vowel sounds from speech into a singing pattern demands that the completion be delayed. The problem is to decide what the speech pattern should be. In American English there are four basic speech patterns or dialects, each with its own peculiarities: Coastal Eastern, Plantation Southern, Highland Southern, and General American.
The Plantation Southern and Highland Southern are essentially drawl or glide dialects, where single sounds are diphthongized or triphthongized.
The Plantation Southern and the Coastal Eastern dialects drop the final r sound before a consonant or at the end of a word. However, the Coastal Eastern retains a final r when the next word in the sentence begins with a vowel; i.e. "my Mother is here." It is also even inserted to link two vowel sounds; i.e. "my idear is this."
The Highland Southern and General American retain the £ sound, but tend to make it more prominent, and as such it is considered to be objectionable. This is called the inverted r.
The Coastal Eastern substitutes the rounded aw sound for the broad ah sound, for the flat a sound in "aunt." The Highland Southern substitutes the ih sound for "it" for the eh sound in "men." "Men" becomes "min," "ten" becomes "tin," "tennis" becomes "tinnis," etc.
The General American is apt to have a flat or non-resonant quality, the Highland Southern an objectionable nasal quality.
Of the four basic dialects the General American would seem to offer the best medium for a singing diction or speech, although there are many advocates of the Coastal Eastern. The General American is better adapted to a clearer singing speech, and as such is more generally understood.
Problem: To establish the General American dialect as the standard of a singing diction or speech.
Take the first line of the hymn. "Onward Christian Soldiers."
When it is divided into syllables below the notes in the hymn book, it looks like this: "On ward Chris tian sol- diers." Actually it is not sung in syllables like that, but in tone syllables like this:
"O-nwar-dChri stia-nso- ldiers." Or in phonetic symbols like this: a-"n w a-nw3-rdkYI-stS^-nso-uldz3z
This process can be translated into a rule for a singing diction: End each syllable in a single vowel sound, and carry final consonants or second sounds of diphthongs over and merge them with the next syllable. If we apply this rule to the song, "Drink to me only with thine eyes," a transcription would look like this:
"Dri nkto me o nly wi thi neyes"
DrI-nktu miow nli wIda-in/a-Iz
Two problems present themselves:
- When there is a repetition of consonants like the th in "with thine eyes," it should not be necessary to sound both th's.
- When the process of carrying over final consonants or second sounds of diphthongs changes the meaning of a word, or makes humorous combinations, as in "wi- thi- neyes," it will be necessary to enunciate or articulate the next sound clearly. This may result in an
abrupt stop or a so-called glottal stroke, which is considered to be
objectionable in artistic singing when overdone.
Be on the lookout for errors in pronunciation. These include errors in substitution or omission, or in unstressing the vowel sounds. Errors in substitution include n for ng as in "going," dfor t as in "later," w for wh as in "where," s for z for s, th for s (lisping), d for th.
Errors in omission include t in the final position, especially after s,and t, as in "must," "last," "wept," d in the medial position in "didn't," "couldn't"; y after g or k, in words like "regular," "particular"; l before^ in "always," "valiant."
Unstressing the vowel sounds when they occur in unaccented positions is a characteristic peculiar to American English diction, which many singers carry over into their singing. For example, repeat the sentence: "I heard a forest praying." When the indefinite article a and the second syllable rest in "forest" are unstressed, they tend to modify to the neutral vowel uh. When carried over into singing the unstressed vowels are pronounced like this: "uh forust," and do not fit into the pattern of normal quality. If stressed the vowel sounds would be: "no -forest"
Words like "America," "judgment," "angels," lend themselves readily to unstressing, particularly when the basic approach to a singing diction is the "sing-as-you-speak" method.
Lesson Plan No. 10
Subject: Pronunciation - The Attack
The attack is the act or method of beginning:
There are three attacks in singing: 1) a breathy attack using the aspirate h as in the word home; 2) a sharp attack (staccato), commonly used in German; and 3) a smooth attack (legato) where breath and enunciation are coordinated.
Each attack, breathy, staccato, or legato, has its proper place in vocal development or in song literature. A breathy attack may be used to establish a breath flow; a staccato attack to balance breath support and pharyngeal enunciation; and a legato attack for the development of an even scale or singing on the flow of the breath.
Except where the use of the aspirate h is necessary in pronunciation, or in florid singing to keep the breath flowing, the breathy attack is not considered good form. A staccato attack may be overdone, resulting in what is called a "glottal" attack, which is distracting to those listening. The legato attack as the beginning of legato singing is considered desirable not only to listen to, but also to aid in development of the voice.
Problem: To establish a good vocal attack.
To illustrate the breathy attack, use the aspirate h beginning on the average pitch of the normal speaking voice, and sing in a three note or short arpeggio, up and down:
Ha - Ha - Ha - Ha – Ha
To illustrate a breathy attack when improperly used sing: Ho give me ha home, where the buf-ha-lo roam.
To illustrate the sharp attack, sing a three note arpeggio up and down, staccato fashion, using the vowel sound ah:
Ah - Ah - Ah - Ah - Ah Now sing the following phrase staccato fashion:
Drink to me on-ly wi-th thine eyes
And I will pledge with mine
Now to illustrate where a sharp attack should be made but not exaggerated into a noticeable stroke of the glottis:
Drink to me on-ly with thine eyes
And I will pledge with mine
To illustrate a smooth or legato attack, divide each phrase into tone syllables, ending each syllable in an open vowel sound and carrying final consonants or second sounds of diphthong over and merging them into the next syllable.
Sing the following phrase in terms of tone syllables:
Dri-nk/to me o-n/ly wi-th/i-ne/eyes A-nd/I- wi-11/ple- dge/wi-th/mine
Figure 10 - Tone Syllables
Avoid singing "thine neyes" and, "an dl," by making a modified sharp attack. (See illustration under explanation of where sharp attack should be made but not exaggerated.
Use the average pitch of the normal speaking voice as the starting point for vocalization. Warm up the voice gradually, limiting the range to about an octave, then gradually increasing the range to about an octave and a fourth. Vocalizing above this point is not too difficult to establish in female voices, particularly on the ah vowel sound sung half voice, either in the open-square position of the lips or the relaxed position. Ability to vocalize high notes easily does not mean that a student is ready to sing high notes in a song. The range of song material should be carefully chosen to avoid strain or over singing.
In male changed voices the completion of the high-voice range in most
cases is a difficult problem. However, the vowel sounds ay and oh when vocalized softly tend to modify naturally in the high voice to complete a two-octave range. The ability to sing in the high range, unless it comes naturally, should be developed first through vocalization. This applies to both male and female voices.
The average vocalizing range of most teen-age girls over fifteen years of age who can sing, is approximately three octaves - two octaves above the average pitch of the normal speaking voice, and one octave below. Vocalizing throughout this entire range is not advocated, because a certain amount of strain may be involved.
The average vocalizing range of most teen-age boys whose voices have changed is approximately an octave and a fourth, without the falsetto range. There is no reason why vocalization should not be carried up into the falsetto register if sung softly, and with the mouth opened wide.
FOR MEDIUM VOICES
For lower voices, begin vocalise lower. For higher voices, begin vocalise higher.
Lesson Plan No. 12
Subject: The Registers – Registration
A register in singing maybe defined as the tones produced by a particular adjustment of the vocal cords, reflected in a particular quality or resonance of voice. When the point is reached where the vocal cords readjust themselves for the higher tones, a new register begins and a different quality or resonance is reflected. The existence of registers has been generally accepted. They exist in the vocal ranges of all normal individuals - children, adolescents, and adults, males and females - and in the resonance or quality given to them, such as chest, mouth and head resonance, or thick and thin quality.
The existence of registers can be demonstrated by humming. Starting from the average pitch of the normal speaking voice and humming up the scale on nasal m-hum, a change in resonance placement occurs about an octave above the starting pitch. If the humming is continued, another change in resonance placement occurs about a fourth or fifth above the first octave. Usually the humming can be carried up about a third or fourth farther in the scale, thereby completing a two-octave hum. The voice thus naturally divides itself into a low voice, of an octave; a middle voice, of a fourth or a fifth; and a high voice, of a third or a fourth. In many voices there is an additional high range, which in women's voices is the coloratura register. This quality is more in the nature of a bird call or a whistle. Many voices have an additional range below the average pitch of the speaking voice. For development purposes, an approach to a two-octave range through vocalization is desirable, since this range will cover practically all the literature for a particular type of voice.
Many teachers dispute the existence of registers, which may be due to the fact that they do not hear the changes in quality in others, or have not experienced personally the tactile sensations that go along with changes in resonance placement.
Problem: To be able to recognize where changes in registration should occur, and to be able to establish these changes.
Procedure: The procedures are outlined in the next four lesson plans.
Lesson Plan No. 13
Subject: Registration - The First Lift
The first lift is a tactile sensation of a change in resonance placement. The change, which should be automatic, is from a high forward "nasal" resonance, to a high "post nasal" resonance. The sensation of the tone "lifting" may also cause an empathetic response by those listening, or may be recognized by a change in resonance quality.
Actually the first lift is due to a register change in the vocal cords themselves, and a change in the position of the epiglottis, which change directs the sound waves postnasally.
The first lift occurs approximately an octave above the average pitch of the normal speaking voice, and marks the beginning of a middle-voice range of approximately a fourth or a fifth. In actual singing the resonance quality of this part of the voice may sound pinched, thin, strident, or too nasal, due to considerable constriction in the naso-pharynx. This constriction can be balanced by a stronger pharyngeal enunciation of the vowel sounds, so that the quality sounds like a continuation of the lower octave.
Problem: To establish an automatic first lift and to balance any constriction by a stronger pharyngeal enunciation of the vowel sounds.
Procedure: (see vocalization charts, pp. 71, 72)
Beginning on the average pitch of the normal speaking voice, sing open ah, arpeggio fashion, up an octave and back slowly. Do not change open position of the lips or of the mouth.
Repeat same exercise with different vowel sounds — ee, ay and oh, singing them in open-vowel quality.
Change beginning pitch to a half step higher, and repeat arpeggios on open vowel sounds ee, ay, oh and ah, until first lift is recognized, either by a tactile sensation of a lift or by a change in resonance quality.
Repeat arpeggios a half step lower until first lift levels off.
Use portamento exercises of an octave interval, up and back, on open ay, oh, or ah. Maintain an open position of the lips and of the mouth without change and without strain. Increase the loudness of the vowel as you sing up, and decrease it as you sing down.
Use portamento exercises of an octave interval, up and back, singing open ay
up an octave, changing to oh
, then singing oh
down an octave and changing to ah
Repeat portamento exercises a half step higher until a third or a fourth has been covered.
The use of portamentoes should increase the strength of the pharyngeal enunciation.
Lesson Plan No. 14
Subject: Registration - The Second Lift
The second lift marks the beginning of another change in resonance placement or in resonance quality. This change occurs, on an average, in forte or mezzo-forte singing, about a fourth or fifth above the first lift. The second lift varies in range, but normally should cover at least a third or fourth to include the high range of song literature. This completes a singing range of approximately two octaves, made up of a low-voice register of an octave, a middle-voice register of a fourth or a fifth, and a high-voice register of at least a third or fourth.
If an attempt is made to prevent or delay the second lift, the result will be a pharyngeal yell, or the voice will break or stop altogether. Continued misuse of the voice through improper registration will result in hoarseness, laryngitis, shortness of range, loss of quality and nodes.
As in the first lift, the second lift is due to a register change in the vocal cords themselves. This is brought about by holding on to the basic vowel tension present in normal quality, and turning the breath stream more directly out of the mouth. This change in resonance placement changes the register adjustment to what may be called the "high voice mechanism." In this adjustment, only the front or anterior part of the vocal cords vibrates, while the back or posterior partis held or dampened. As the tone goes higher in pitch, the dampening moves forward, and the vibrating part, the glottis, becomes shorter.
The terms in common use to describe the process of changing the resonance placement to make the second lift are "covering" and "closing."
Problem: To establish the second lift by a change in resonance placement while maintaining a basic vowel tension.
Sing a closed-lip oh with the lips well rounded, arpeggio fashion, upward and downward, beginning on the average pitch of the normal speaking voice. Maintain same closed position of the mouth and lips without strain.
Continue singing arpeggios a half step higher each time, until top notes modify to oo. This indicates a change in resonance placement to mouth resonance , or, in male changed voices, to falsetto resonance. This reflects the "falsetto mechanism." Along with this change there will be an illusion of the tone being higher in the head. This is the so-called second lift.
Beginning again on the average pitch of the normal speaking voice, sing open oh
softly with an open square position of the lips, arpeggio fashion upward and downward. Maintain the same open position without strain. Allow the open oh sound to modify to uh
on the top note of the fourth or fifth octave arpeggio. This indicates not only a change to a mouth resonance, but also a change to a lower pharyngeal enunciation of the vowel sound. This second change has the effect of dampening the vocal cords, and making the high-voice quality sound like a continuation of the lower and middle-voice qualities.
Follow the same procedure as instep two, except to sing open oh loudly, and allow it to modify to uh on the top note of the fourth or fifth octave arpeggio, or actually change the vowel sound to uh. This can sometimes be accomplished by singing open oh and changing to a pharyngeal oo on the top note, without changing the mouth opening or the open position of the lips. The result should be uh.
The same procedure as outlined for oh can also be followed for ay.
First, sing a closed-lip ay softly, allowing ay to modify to a closed ih sound on the top note of the third or fourth octave arpeggio.
Second, sing an open ay softly with an open-mouth position and an open-square position of the lips, allowing ay^ to modify to ih on the top note of the third or fourth octave arpeggio.
Third, sing open ayloudly, allowing ay; to modify to ih on the top note of the third or fourth octave arpeggio, or actually change it to ih, without changing either the open position of the mouth or the open-square position of the lips.
The same procedure as outlined for oh can be followed for ah and oo; and the same procedure as outlined for ay can be followed for ee. In other words ah, oh and oo modify towards uh in the high voice, ay and ee towards ih,
Although there are approximately sixteen vowel sounds in English, for all practical purposes they will fit into the five basic vowels and their modifications in the high voice.
Lesson Plan No. 15
Subject: The Falsetto Mechanism and the High Voice Mechanism.
Falsetto has been defined as "the male changed voice which lies above the natural or normal voice range." w
Although falsetto is generally thought to be confined to male changed voices, many teachers believe that the high register of the female voice is comparable to the male falsetto register. The term used, however, for the female high voice is "head voice."
Actually, falsetto is a false or abnormal tone quality. It can be produced in the male changed voice by using the lips and mouth to enunciate the vowel sounds, particularly oh and oo, in the high voice. The use of closed oh and oo in the falsetto register releases the vowel tension which holds the vocal cords in close approximation, and allows a constant escape of air. In other words, the vocal cords are allowed to vibrate unhindered or undamp-ened. This results in an upward displacement of the glottis because of the relaxation of the inner edges of the vocal cords. This may be called "lip falsetto," and the adjustment of the vocal cords the "falsetto mechanism."
If the pharynx and mouth, instead of the lips and mouth, are used to enunciate the vowel sounds, a fundamental of vowel tension can be established which results in what sounds like a continuation of the low and middle voice quality. Instead of an upper displacement of the vocal cords, there is now a lateral displacement. As a result of an established vowel tension, the posterior or back part of the vocal cords are held or dampened, allowing only the anterior or front parts to vibrate. This may be called "pharynx falsetto," and the adjustment of the vocal cords the "high voice mechanism."
Problem: To change from the falsetto mechanism to the high voice mechanism by the process of dampening.
Sing closed oh softly, arpeggio fashion, to closed oh in the high voice, while maintaining a closed position of the mouth and lips. This should result in falsetto quality because of undampened vocal cords and mouth resonance. This adjustment of the vocal cords is called the "falsetto mechanism."
If a student finds it difficult to vocalize upward into a falsetto quality, have him start in a falsetto quality in the high voice and vocalize down arpeggio fashion.
Sing open oh softly, arpeggio fashion, to closed oh in the high voice, while maintaining throughout the same open position of the mouth and lips. This should result in what sounds like a continuation of normal quality, due to dampened vocal cords and mouth resonance. This adjustment of the vocal cords may be called the "high-voice mechanism."
If a student finds it difficult to dampen the vocal cords, have him change from a closed position to an open position of the mouth and lips, on one pitch in the high voice. This should have the effect of dampening the vocal cords.
Sing open oh loudly, arpeggio fashion, to closed oh in the high voice, while maintaining the same open position of the mouth and lips. This should also result in what sounds like a continuation of normal quality because of dampened vocal cords and a strong pharyngeal resonance to supplement the mouth resonance.
The adjustment of the vocal cords in the high voice, in both loud and soft singing, should be the high voice mechanism.
When singing softly with a closed mouth and closed lip position, the change from the low voice mechanism to the falsetto mechanism is usually automatic.
When singing softly with an open mouth and open lip position, the change from the low voice mechanism to the high-voice mechanism is usually automatic unless there is pharyngeal interference. The change maybe facilitated by using an open puckered or open square position.
When singing loudly with an open mouth and open lip position, the change from the low voice mechanism to the high voice mechanism is usually difficult to make. This is usually due to the inability of the student to make a change from what is called post-nasal resonance to a stronger mouth resonance while still maintaining his basic vowel tension. He may also try to sing "open" without any change in resonance placement; or let go of his basic vowel tension in the high voice and literally collapse into falsetto quality.
Although there will be instances in singing songs or in vocalization where there will be an automatic change to the high voice mechanism, the singer cannot depend on this happening. He must learn how to make this change either consciously or unconsciously in order to solve his range problems.
There seems to be no end to the arguments over the questions "What is falsetto?" and "Do women have a falsetto?"
Falsetto is generally thought of as a false quality in the male high voice above the normal range. According to Negus, the recognized authority on vocal physiology, falsetto uses a different mechanism for notes above the ordinary range of the male voice. This has been called the "falsetto mechanism."45
Whether women have a falsetto is still a highly debatable question. In women's voices there seems to be no false quality comparable to a man's falsetto, either on how it sounds or on analysis of the sound spectrum. In later life many women's voices become more masculine in quality, and hooting is resorted to in the high voice. This quality may be said to be close to the falsetto quality.
Whereas falsetto and its corollary, the falsetto mechanism, are generally thought to apply to the high voice range of male changed voices, the high voice mechanism, with a quality that sounds like a continuation of normal quality, may be said to apply to the high voice range of all singers. It is suggested that all singers, male and female, adults, adolescents and children ten years of age and up be taught how to make the change to the high voice mechanism as a basic technique for the development of range and the solving of range problems.
Lesson Plan No. 16
Subject: Transition Notes - Covering, or Closing Points of the Vowel Sounds.
The vocal range of a singer, beginning with the average pitch of his normal speaking voice, follows a pattern of a low voice of an octave, a middle voice of a fourth or a fifth, and a high voice of a third or a fourth. This makes a singing range of approximately two octaves, depending on the vocal talent of the singer.
The transition note to the middle voice, called the first lift, is approximately the same pitch for all vowel sounds, and marks the middle of the singer's range.
The transition note to the high voice, called the second lift, marks the beginning of the high voice mechanism. By transition note is meant the pitch where some change in the resonance quality or in the vowel sound must be made to extend the singing range an additional third or fourth or more.
The process of changing the resonance quality or modifying the vowel sound has been called "covering" or "closing." These terms would seem to be interchangeable, since both depend on a stronger mouth resonance. However the term "covering" would seem to be more applicable to both the middle and high range when the resonance quality sounds too "open" or metallic. The term "closing" would seem to be more applicable to the high range, where actually the high voice mechanism is comparatively a closed mechanism, only the anterior parts of the vocal cords being in a state of vibration while the posterior parts are held or dampened.
In most cases the closing process is a variable, depending on the vowel sung, on whether it is an open or closed vowel, on how loudly it is sung, and on what vowel sound or consonant precedes or follows it. Any one of these can change the pattern of a fourth or a fifth, which may be said to be an average pitch of where the vowel sounds should close, rather than a hard and fast rule of all changing at the same pitch or transition note.
Although the closing process is a variable one, the closing points of the vowel sounds, when sung mezzo-forte and singly, tend to follow this pattern: the more closed the mouth opening the sooner the vowel sounds close. This means that ee and oo tend to close first, then ay and oh, and finally ah.
The following chart shows approximate closing points of the vowel sounds or transition notes for high and low voices
In the final analysis the singer should learn how to control the closing of the vowel sounds, either consciously or unconsciously, and he should be able to judge by how the tone sounds whether a good transition has been made. A vowel that is closed too soon usually sounds "hooty" or muffled; a vowel that is closed too late sounds too "yelly"or open until the transition is made.
Adjustments of the Vocal Cords
Figure 13 - Vocal cords retracted on inhalation
Figure 14 - Low voice mechanism
Figure 15 - High voice mechanism. Back of cords dampened
Lesson Plan No. 17
Agility in singing maybe defined as the ability to sing unusual variations in pitch, tempo, and loudness. Agility is dependent on pharyngeal flexibility, based on an open tone or an open vowel production in terms of normal or "bell" quality, sung mezzo-forte. Agility adapts itself more easily to a conversational or parlante type of diction. The oratorical or aria style is too heavy or cumbersome, the soft voice uses too much breath, which is necessary to sustain long and florid phrases.
In florid singing and in the execution of the ornaments of singing - the appoggiatura (long grace note), the acciaccatura (short grace note), themordent, the turn, the trill, and the portamento, all of which are tests of agility - the singer must have the right balance of pharyngeal speech and normal quality.
Problem: To establish pharyngeal flexibility in normal or bell quality.
Vocalize open vowel sounds or open vowel sounds that can be sung in normal quality, preferably open ay, oh, and ah, on five tone and octave scales, arpeggios with and without turn, and octave portamentoes. Sing portamentoes on one sound, for example ay, up and down; or on two sounds, carrying ay up an octave and changing to oil, and carry oh down an octave and changing to ah. Maintain an open position of the lips and the mouth without strain. Keep the jaw loose.
Avoid the use of the tense ee vowel sound or the closed oo vowel sound in the beginning, since these sounds in their closed positions are not conducive to pharyngeal flexibility.
Figure 16 - Pharyngeal Control
Lesson Plan No. 18
Subject: Dynamic Control - Loud and Soft Singing
Flexibility may be defined as the state or quality of being flexible. This means that the muscles involved in the production of vowel sounds can be tensed and relaxed easily.
In singing, the production of vowel sounds should be the result of flexible vowel shapes or sets in the pharynx. Loud and soft singing, then, is dependent on an easy rise and fall of the vowel tensions in the pharynx, which are reflected in an easy rise and fall of vowel tensions in the larynx and vocal cords.
In other words, the vocal mechanism responds as a unit in loud and soft singing.
In soft singing there is less vowel tension or emphasis than in loud singing. How well the singer can control these tensions which result in singing loudly or singing softly is dependent on his pharyngeal flexibility.
This pharyngeal control must necessarily be supported by flexible or variable pressure flow of the breath. In soft singing less pressure is needed than in loud singing. More breath is used in soft singing due to the decreased resistance of the vocal cords.
Problem: To develop a dynamic control of the singing voice through the development of pharyngeal flexibility.
Whisper the sentence: "Tell her the day."
Repeat the same sentence, but bring the whisper into a soft, audible tone. This is caused by the vocal cords being brought into approximation by vowel tension, thereby resisting the pressure flow of the breath, and may be called pianissimo voicing.
Now raise the intensity of the words to the same level that you use in ordinary conversation: "Tell her the day." This may be called mezzo-forte voice. This should bring your speaking voice quality into focus in a fairly resonant tone, depending on your speech habits or vocal proficiency. The vowel tensions here must offer greater resistance.
Now raise the intensity of the tone into what may be called aloud voice, approaching the old-fashioned oratorical loudness: "Tell her the day." This may be called the forte voice. To hold the vowel sounds against the greater pressure flow of the breath, it is necessary to exert a greater pharyngeal vowel tension.
Lesson Plan No. 19
Subject: Inhalation - Where to Breathe for Singing
Different types of breathing are: clavicular, or high chest; intercostal, or rib; high abdominal, or diaphragmatic; low abdominal; and dorsal, or back.
A combination of intercostal and high abdominal breathing has been generally accepted as the most efficient type for deep breathing, which is essential to good singing.
The most important muscle of inhalation is the diaphragm. The most important muscles of exhalation are the abdominal and intercostal muscles. In normal vegetative breathing, that is, breathing necessary to maintain life, the rate of inhalation and exhalation is rhythmical, the time for each being about the same. In active forced breathing as in singing and speaking, the time of inhalation is much faster, with a slow, controlled exhalation.
Due to its sustained nature, singing requires a larger intake of breath. Since most individuals are shallow breathers, they must be taught how to breathe deeply, and then learn by actual singing experience how much air to take and how to control it.
Deep breathing is not a matter of raising the chest cage, or pushing out the back ribs, or protruding the lower abdomen. Deep breathing is accomplished by increasing the size of the thoracic or chest cavity at its base. This is brought about by the downward descent of the diaphragm and the upward and outward movement of the ribs, thereby increasing the capacity of thethoracic cavity in three dimensions, length, width and depth. Any increase in size is immediately filled by the expansion of the lungs, which are highly elastic. By this action a vacuum is created which draws in the outside air.
Problem: To establish deep breathing through intercostal-high abdominal action.
Pant as after running, fast at first, gradually slowing down the panting, and increasing the length of the inhalation.
Observe that on inhalation the mid-section comes out. This is due to the downward and forward action of the diaphragm, which forces the abdominal contents downward and outward. This is high-abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing.
To establish intercostal breathing, place palms of hands on floating ribs (last or bottom ribs) in each side of body. Press in and blow out. Now inhale quickly, allowing ribs to expand as much as possible.
To combine intercostal breathing with high abdominal breathing, place palms of hands on bottom ribs, allowing fingers to extend over on high abdominal region. Press in on ribs and on high abdomen and blow out. Now inhale slowly and completely, allowing mid-section below the breastbone and above the waistline to expand all around the body.
Mouth breathing is suggested as the most efficient type of inhalation for these reasons: 1. a lot of breath can be taken quickly; 2. with his mouth open the singer is ready to sing; 3. an open mouth position is conducive to an open throat position, and to open tone production. Noisy breathing can be eliminated by inhaling through the nose and mouth together.
Intercostal high-abdominal breathing allows for greater freedom from constriction in the muscles of the neck and in movements of the larynx, and greater freedom in the movements of the articulators.
Lesson Plan No. 20
Subject: Exhalation - Breath Support
The most important muscles of exhalation are the abdominal and intercostal muscles. Through the contraction of the abdominal muscles an abdominal pressure, called the abdominal press, is established. The strength of this pressure can be consciously or unconsciously controlled. By means of the abdominal press, the abdominal contents (viscera) which were forced downward and outward through the contraction of the diaphragm downward and outward, are now forced upward and backward into their normal positions.
The diaphragm which was in a state of contraction on inhalation, relaxes on exhalation and gradually returns to its normal position. It is aided in this return by the pressure exerted on the viscera from below, and by an inter-thoracic suction caused by the release of the breath. The diaphragm must be considered to be a passive, not an active factor in exhalation.
The intercostal muscles which contracted on inhalation, thereby raising and expanding the rib-cage outward and upward, relax on exhalation, allowing the rib-cage to return to its normal position. This return can be consciously or unconsciously delayed, but not controlled completely. If there has been any expansion of the rib-cage on inhalation, then there will be some lowering on exhalation.
How much this rib action enters into the overall process of breath support is difficult to analyze. Breath support, a variable pressure flow of the breath, would seem to be definitely the function of the abdominal muscles. The result of the reduction in the dimensions of the thoracic cavity - length, width and depth, is an increase in the pressure flow of the breath. The breath becomes a form of compressed air, which possesses an inherent force of its own. This is the basis of breath support. When correlated with the action of the vocal cords through vowel production, the result is voice. The pressure flow of the breath may be said to be a variable pressure, depending on the support necessary to vibrate the vocal cords, for different degrees of loudness or intensity, and for different ranges of the voice.
The pressure flow of the breath not only vibrates the vocal cords, but it should also assist in approximating them and holding them in approximation.
Problem: To establish a variable pressure flow of the breath by means of the abdominal press.
The following are indirect techniques through the aid of imagery. Place palm of one hand on mid-section below breastbone and above waistline. Clear your throat. Grunt. Cry, Squeal. Call "hey." Notice that the mid-section below the breastbone bulges on making these sounds.
Now call "hey," and sustain the sound eyon one pitch by maintaining the pressure flow of the breath. Caution: do not hold mid-section rigid. Do not pull in midsection, but allow it to sink in gradually as the breath is used.
Sing arpeggios up and down the scale, starting on the average pitch of your normal speaking voice. Increase the pressure flow of the breath by a stronger abdominal press as you sing up the scale, and decrease the pressure flow of the breath by a weaker abdominal press as you descend the scale.
The following are physical devices which can be used while singing to establish a variable pressure flow of the breath through an induced abdominal press: cupping the hands and pulling, pushing against a wall; or lifting on one end of a piano. None of these should be carried to an extreme. To avoid doing so it is highly desirable that they be practiced only under the direction of the teacher.
Figure 20 - Testing Breath Support
Lesson Plan No. 21
Subject: Breath Control
A singer is said to have good breath control: 1. when he can inhale or exhale any volume of air up to his maximum capacity, slowly or quickly; 2. when he can sing with economy of breath; 3. when he can sing without attracting attention to his breathing either on inhalation or exhalation; 4. when he has control of a flexible breath support for loud and soft singing, and for different ranges of the voice; and 5. when he can sing long phrases or florid passages on one breath.
These are the results of good breath control. The question is how can one learn to control the breath to get these results. Ultimate breath control is dependent first on learning how to inhale and exhale any volume of air up to one's maximum capacity, slowly or quickly. It is not enough to say "just breathe naturally," since most individuals are shallow breathers and must be taught to breathe deeply. Natural breathing cannot be expected to meet the demands of long phrases, or of loud and soft singing in different registers of the voice. Although a singer uses comparatively little breath when singing correctly, deep breathing sets up a potential breath support in itself which makes for an easier pharyngeal control.
In singing, the exhalation of the breath can be controlled in two ways: either by a holding of the breath under pressure by a contraction of the abdominal muscles called the abdominal press, or by the vocal cords acting as a valve to release the pressure flow of the breath.
The first, an abdominal breath control, is a matter of increasing or decreasing the pressure flow of the breath by the strength of the abdominal press. The second, a laryngeal breath control, is dependent on a flexible pharyngeal control of the vowel sounds, which releases the pressure flow of the breath in terms of a singing diction. Both actions must be balanced one against the other, but with the laryngeal control in command.
Problems: To be able to inhale and to exhale any volume of air up to one's maximum capacity, slowly or quickly. To establish a flexible pharyngeal control of the breath flow.
Procedure: (see chart for vocalizing procedure, and review lesson plans on Inhalation and Exhalation.)
Inhale a complete breath slowly through the mouth, beginning with a high abdominal expansion, then adding an intercostal expansion until you have reached the limit of your capacity. Exhale slowly through the mouth until you have exhaled the maximum amount possible.
Repeat this procedure several times until you are aware of the maximum amount of air that you can inhale and exhale. This is called your vital capacity. If troubled with dizziness from unaccustomed deep breathing, change the tempo of your breathing to a quick inhalation, and a slow controlled exhalation. To avoid noisy inhalation, open your mouth wider, and relax your tongue, or breathe through both nose and mouth. Inhale quickly through the nose and mouth, then hold the breath under pressure by a glottal stop; then sing in short staccato tones on one pitch: Hey Hey Hey Hey Hey
Repeat this procedure several times on various pitches to establish the proper balance between breath flow and enunciation of the vowel sounds.
Sing a sustained "Hey" on one pitch and hold as long as possible. Do not pull in mid-section as the breath is used, but allow it to sink in gradually while still maintaining the abdominal press. This action helps hold the vocal cords in approximation, making possible a flexible pharyngeal control of the breath.
Figure 21 - Breath control through laryngeal control of the pressure flow of the breath
Lesson Plan No. 22
Subject: Pitch Accuracy
Intonation in singing maybe defined as the relationships of tones to each other in terms of pitch.
Good intonation is dependent primarily on a good ear. This means that a singer should be able to hear and recognize fine differences in pitch, to determine whether he is singing in tune or sharp or flat.
Good intonation is also dependent on how the dynamic processes of respiration, phonation, articulation and resonation are co-ordinated. This co-ordination must be translated into anormal quality, a flexible pharyngeal vowel production, a flexible articulation of the consonants, the correct registration, and the correct breath support.
Good intonation is also dependent on an understanding of pitch relationships in major and minor keys, in rhythm and time patterns, in loudness and in the ornaments of singing. In other words, good intonation is dependent on good musicianship.
Problem: To sing accurately and in tune.
Procedure: (without piano)
Sing octave arpeggios on ee, ay, ah, oh and oo, up and down, beginning first on the average pitch of the normal speaking voice, and continuing a half higher each time, and if possible the second lift.
If the first lift is delayed, the pitch will be flat; if the first lift is forced, the pitch will be sharp. The same will be true of the second lift.
An open bell-like position or an open square position of the lips tends to facilitate the lifts.
Sing octave scales upward using numbers, 1 2345678, and then slurring down to 1, beginning on the average pitch of the normal speaking voice for 1 move up a half step for 1 of each new key.
Poor intonation occurs frequently where the half steps fall, between 3 and 4 and between 7 and 8 of each new key.
High-Palate and Low, Grooved Tongue Open Throat Position
Lesson Plan No. 23
Subject "Open Throat" Versus "Closed Throat."
The "open throat' position in singing is usually thought of as calling for a high position of the soft palate, a low position of the tongue, grooved if possible, and a middle position of the larynx.
All of these positions, however, are dependent on "nasal" resonance, with its illusion of the tone being forward. This has the effect of relaxing the upward pulling muscles, making possible an enlarged, flexible throat opening, and a low flexible tongue. The middle position of the larynx reflects "nasal" resonance just as a high larynx reflects nasality, and a low larynx reflects a gutteral quality.
The open throat position, because of less constriction in the mouth and throat, allows for finer adjustments in the larynx. This is in keeping with the theory that the vowel set or shapes which are formed in the back of the mouth, to include the back of the tongue, the pharynx, and the soft palate, are reflected in singing in the shaping and tensions of the larynx, the vocal cords and the epiglottis.
A flexible "open throat" position, then, may be said to be conducive to better tone quality, greater power, finer pitch accuracy, and a more even vibrato.
The "closed throat" position, which is typical of the speaking voice, because of greater constriction in the mouth and throat, prevents the finer adjustments in the larynx that would improve the singing voice in quality, pitch accuracy, power, and an even vibrato.
Problem: To establish a flexible "open throat."
Procedure: (use hand or large mirror to throw reflected light into the throat.)
Breathe through your nose with your mouth opened wide.
Notice that the soft palate is low and your tongue high, blocking off the mouth. Now breathe through your nose again with your mouth opened wide, and then change to mouth breathing. The palate rises and the tongue flattens or lowers. This is the open throat position.
Sing the word "hung" with the mouth opened wide, and add a final ah sound: "hung - ah." The ng hum lowers the palate and raises the tongue to shut off the mouth cavity. If the final ah sound is enunciated loudly, the soft palate will rise to a high position and the tongue will fall to a low position. This is also an open throat position.
Open the mouth widely and pretend to yawn. This usually results in an actual yawn. In the first part of the yawn, the throat opens wide to allow for a large inhalation of air. This is a flexible open throat position, a desirable position for singing.
In the second part of the yawn, the throat is constricted, suspending the flow of the breath. This is a constricted closed throat position, an undesirable position for singing.
Lesson Plan No. 24
Subject: Good Vocal Condition.
A good singing technique is the best vocal hygiene, but in addition the singer should know how to maintain good vocal condition, which is at least partly dependent on good general physical condition.
When we say that a singer has a good technique, the implication is that he knows how to sing correctly. Actually, a good singing technique involves several techniques: singing in the normal or "bell" quality; singing agilely; singing loudly and softly; singing in the low, middle, and high registers; breathing deeply; supporting the speaking voice as well as the singing voice; and controlling the breath.
In addition to developing a good singing technique, a singer needs to condition his vocal mechanism and keep it flexible. There is no substitute for intelligent vocalization to accomplish these ends.
The teacher should not allow a student to lose sight of his primary objective, which is to establish a good legato of normal or "bell" resonance quality. Lyric legato singing with emphasis on the vowel sounds is the building process, whereas dramatic, nonlegato singing, with emphasis on the consonants or emotional stops is the destructive one.
Good vocal condition is dependent on good physical condition. A singer should live a moderate, well-ordered life, avoiding excesses in eating, drinking, and smoking. Physical exercises in moderation, such as golf, tennis, swimming, and horseback riding should be helpful in maintaining good physical condition. Heavy exercising, such as weight lifting, ballet and acrobatic dancing, distance running, in fact, any exercises that call for heavy breathing or sudden closures of the vocal cords, are not conducive to good vocal condition.
Problem: How to keep the voice in good condition.
A teacher of singing should teach each of his students how to know his own voice and how to keep it in good condition. This involves the student knowing his normal or "bell" quality; what and how much to vocalize; the song literature he should sing to fit his stage of development; how to solve his range problems, and a basic rule for diction to establish a good legato; what physical exercises to use, and what foods to avoid.
Students should be cautioned against yelling at any time.
In case of hoarseness or loss of voice, the best suggestion is to rest the voice. Do not use the voice at all.
Students should be warned against singing in drafts, and against over-fatigue from singing or practicing too long at one time.
Using eucalyptus oil or tincture of benzoin in boiling water, inhaling the steam through the mouth, should hasten recovery from hoarseness. Every singer should have for his own use an atomizer with an adjustable tip for intertracheal treatments. For this purpose, or for spraying the nose or throat, a preparation called chloretone inhalant is recommended. For the intertracheal treatment, which is a matter of spraying the vocal cords, the nozzle of the atomizer is inserted to the back wall of the throat with the adjustable tip turned down. The bulb of the atomizer is then squeezed, with the vocal cords in approximation by saying or singing ay or ah. A gagging reflex takes place immediately when the oil spray touches the approximated cords. Enough medication is left, however, for curative purposes. Prolonged colds or vocal difficulties should be treated by a specialist.
Observations: A conclusion based on a teaching experience of over thirty years in teaching singing in private lessons and in class lessons is that the playing of wind instruments is notconducive to good vocal production as outlined in this treatise. This is particularly true of instrumental playing where a highly developed embouchure (lip tonus) is desirable. The playing of instruments with a large mouthpiece and using comparatively little lip tension is not so objectionable. In addition, many teachers of wind instruments teach low abdominal breathing with no expansion of the rib-cage, and a relaxed throat condition. Neither of these fits in with intercostal high abdominal breathing or pharyngeal control.
It may also be said that singing is not conducive to good instrumental playing condition. Therefore, an individual with an unusually promising voice who has also a decided aptitude for playing a wind instrument should make an early decision as to which field is the more important to him.
There will be exceptions to the general rule.
Lesson Plan No. 25
Subject: Basic Theory:
The General American School of Singing. The Psycho-Physiological Method.
As a preface to a consideration of a basic theory for the teaching of singing, there must necessarily be a consideration of the objectives to be reached. This was done in the chapter on "Goals and Objectives." To reach these objectives a definite approach was made to establish and to coordinate the basic processes of breathing, phonation, articulation, and re -sonation into a basic normal resonance quality. This quality was to serve as a cornerstone on which to build a vocal technique. The underlying approach is General American in character, both as to a basic quality - one that Americans like to hear, and as to a basic American diction - one that all Americans should be able to understand. The techniques used are for the most part based on a psychological or indirect approach to a physiological action.
The technical goal:
A flexible pharyngeal control of the vowel sounds, balanced by lip action when necessary for vowel clearness, with a clear and accurate articulation of the consonants, supported by a variable pressure flow of the breath, in a basic normal resonance quality.
The literature goal:
The ability to sing the literature for a particular type of voice, vocally, musically, and artistically.
The procedures in the lesson plans were based on the following theories:
Quality - a basic normal resonance quality which can be described as a semi-nasal resonance or as a "nasal" resonance quality, where little or no breath passes through the nose except on the nasals, m, n, and ng, or other nasal combinations. For simplification, the terms bell resonance and middle-of-the-voice quality also were used.
Diction - a general rule which was stated as follows: end each syllable in an open vowel sound, and carry final consonants or second sounds of diphthongs over and merge them with the next syllable. The General American dialect, a non-glide, non-drawl dialect, with its retention of the r, and lack of substitution of one vowel sound for another, was suggested as the standard diction that would fit the purpose of the general rule: to establish a good legato and under standability.
- an approach to a range of two octaves above the average pitch of the normal speaking voice, based on a recognition of register and resonance changes which require pharyngeal control.
Agility - a form of flexibility under pharyngeal control and dependent on the bell or middle-of-the-voice-quality.
Loud and soft singing - Also a form of pharyngeal flexibility and dependent on the middle-of-the-voice quality which allows for open and closed tone control - open tone for loud singing, and closed tone for soft singing.
Breathing - Intercostal high-abdominal breathing for inhalation, and an intercostal high-abdominal pressure flow of the breath under pharyngeal control for exhalation.
Intonation - dependent on normal resonance quality, a good ear, good musicianship, and the proper execution of register changes through changes in resonance placement.
Vocalization - an absolute essential to the development and conditioning of the singing voice, and reaching the goal of a flexible pharyngeal control.
Vocal Hygiene - with the average normal person in good health, good vocal condition is dependent on the correct use of the basic theories outlined and moderate living habits.
Figure 23 - Vowel OH in square position and check on breath support
Conclusions: An intelligent approach to training the singing voice should be based on significant scientific facts that will assist the teacher in solving the vocal problems of his students. It is not to be expected that the science of singing will be an exact science, but at least it will afford a basis for developing techniques to reach the goals and objectives. Although the teacher of singing should have a basic scientific knowledge, it should not be expected that the student become involved in scientific theories. What he should know basically is how to sing.
Name......................... Age'.................... ».................
rious Teachers................... Address.........................
Quality;; Lip Positions
Metallic;; Breathy Puckered
Muffled;; Harsh Open Square
Nasal;;; Hoarse Relaxed
Intonation — (pitch); Small
Flat;;; To fit vowels
— (size) Conversational
Parlante (classroom or; Tongue Positions
Aria (oratorical);; Tense (retracted)
Clear and understandable
Dialect;; Soft Palate
Speech disorder;; High
Strong Lip Pharyngeal
Breathing Type;; Time inaccurate
Clavicular;; Rhythm good
Intercostal;; Rhythm poor
Abdominal (high); Notes accurate
Abdominal (low); Notes inaccurate
Abdominal Pressure Weak Strong None
Flexibility (power control) Soft singing Medium soft or loud Loud singing Undersinging
Stiff or wooden Accurate Inaccurate
Personality Negative Positive
Clam, well-poised Nervous, but not obvious Nervous, obvious
Facial Expressions Expressive Strained Blank
Normal speaking pitch
First lift (partial close)
Second lift (complete close)
Range in Vocalization Above average pitch of the normal speaking voice:
An octave plus a 2nd or 3rd An octave plus a 4th or 5th Two octaves
More than two octaves Range below average pitch
Range in Songs Above average pitch of the normal speaking voice:
An octave plus a 2nd or 3rd An octave plus a 4th or 5th Two octaves
More than two octaves Range below average pitch
Type of Voice High
Middle or Mezzo Low
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