All of last week we had our first session of Voice culture-training class. The feedback from some of you this week has been very positive. I hope that everybody makes the exercises introduced a part of warm up before every practice each day. You will definitely see a difference in your voice, breath control, stamina and depth if you do this religiously.
I look forward to hearing your experience and further feedback in the forthcoming classes. We will be repeating these sessions once every 6-7 weeks.

Here are some notes I would like to follow up with:
Develop Your Singing Voice

The voice is the only living instrument of music. Every individual is unique, so is every voice. Though there are individual limitations differing from person to person, it is very important to note that this is the only instrument, which can be cultivated, improved and cultured, by variation of pitch, intensity and timbre (tonal quality) and all the above mentioned features.“Your throat is constructed exactly like the throat of the world-famous singers and speakers. There is just one difference. A little one, but all-important. They have a perfectly developed voice muscles—ours is weak, underdeveloped, and imperfectly controlled. If you build up these muscles until they are as strong and well controlled as theirs, our voice will become rich, pure and beautiful. But the regular, persistent, silent, physical exercise of the vocal organism is absolutely essential. The four basic steps of voice training include:

1. Hearing.
2. Control of Breath.
3. Practice.
4. Physical and Mental Fitness.

Imitation is the first step towards learning. This statement applies to voice training, too. Concentrated listening is the basic requirement. By listening more and more, the brain creates and stores a mental image of the music. The notes, the tunes, the rhythm, the speed, the words, the volume, the tonal quality of the voice or instrument, etc. are stored in the brain.When we try to sing, this mental image co-ordinates with the laryngeal muscles to produce the music required. Thus, it can be easily understood that, the more we hear, the more we listen, there will be a better ability of voice production. We should listen with all the aspects of the musical form in our minds – like, tonal quality, phonetic quality, time intervals, the microtones (shrutis), expressional effects of the voice, etc. The more deeply we listen, the better quality of music we will sing. Better the mental and physical co-ordination, better will be the voice production. Though this is the first, basic fundamental and unavoidable step towards learning, we should remember that this is not the only step. It is not enough by itself.

Control Of Breath:
This is also a very important step towards voice culture. If we can master our breath, we can easily master our voice for singing. Breath Control gives fine-ness, clarity, steadiness and confident phonation to the voice. The primary source of energy to produce the voice is the smooth flow of air provided by the breathing apparatus. All varieties of voice modulation and the voice leveling can be mastered only when we have enough breathing capacity. Incorrect breathing can cause disorders in voice production.

Everyone knows – ‘Practice makes a man perfect’. Practice should be divided into two types:
1. Trying that which we cannot sing but want to sing.
2. Repeating that which we already know and bring it closer to perfection.

By constantly practicing the system of muscles and the whole system of voice production are physically trained.  These exercises differ according to the genre of music which is sung. Voice aspects such as pitch control, articulation, and phonation also vary with the form of music.  With classical music there is plenty of improvisation which is integrated into the performance. For this reason a lot more time should be devoted. In such a case the Voice culture for singing practice sessions could even take up to three hour at a time.  By regular practice of singing, we give physical training to all the muscles and the voice production system on the whole.

Physical and Mental Fitness.

Last but not the least, physical and mental fitness is equally important in developing a singing voice.  If you possess a poor singing posture, it’s not only your physical health which is affected, but also your voice.  The negative effects of having a poor posture are causing a lot of difficulties in the major systems of your body.  Aside from physiological effect, the tone and quality of your voice as a vocalist can also be greatly affected. Drink lots of water.  Keep the moisture of your vocal chords intact to improve your singing voice.  Avoid vocal strain and do not sing, if you have a sore throat. Choose the songs that can fit within your range and comfort.

Please watch the video below – interview with current musicians Ranjani-Gayatri  on tips for voice culture

Cheers !!
Music is the most liberating experience for the soul  !!!

Usha Akella

October 17, 2013