Singing Specialist Collaboration
This blog post is the culmination of a week long cross continental performer voice collaboration between Speech Pathologist Singing Voice Specialists, Kristie Knickerbocker (A Tempo Voice Centre, Fort Worth- Texas) & Sarah Lobegeiger de Rodriguez (Voice Science, Melbourne.)
- Head to @kristie_voice and @voicescience and you can watch the full IGTV series that accompanies this blog.
- You can read Kristie’s accompanying blog post at this link. Kristie talks about Source & Filter Options for Warm Up, length of time & variabilities.
You can read Sarah’s blog post below. She talks about vocal range, vowel balance and other variabilities.
Read more about Sarah here.
Kristie Knickerbocker is a licensed Speech Language Pathologist and singing voice specialist with special training in the area of voice, voice disorders. She has experience with singers and professional voice users of all types. She provides intervention for speech, language, voice and swallowing disorders. Read more about Kristie here.
Part 2: What I wish I Knew As a Young Singer(See part one on the A Tempo Website)
Vocal Warm Up & the Singer
This collaboration inspired me to think about the evidence behind vocal warm up. I’ve warmed up my voice since I was a young girl. It’s become a big part of my daily routine because I’m an opera singer and a speech pathologist. Vocal warm up is just what I do daily. Like having coffee… brushing my teeth…
Over the years I’ve found my way to get my voice ready, and I can say it’s always been a flexible process. The exercises, well, they are ancient- all from the Italian Bel Canto. It’s hard to trail the research and find the evidence to substantiate why I and all the singers before me, warm up the way we do. It’s a long history that no research paper can fully cover.
I’m no singing teacher – the only voice I’ve trained to sing is my own and I’m by no means self taught. I’ve had amazing teachers. I guess I’ve been my own pilot study. After reading numerous studies it’s hard to conclusively rely on massive findings about “the best exercise” to get your top F, the best method to balance your /u/ vowel or the gold standard scale to hit the stratosphere at high velocity. So this post is not about that.
So while there is no one magic fix, for me, vocal warm up made the voice I now have. It also gives me a heck of a lot of courage and consistency as a performer to this very day.
Vocal Warm Up is an Individualised Process
What place does Vocal Warm Up have in your Singing Life?
- Increase/ stabilise your voice pitch range
- Enhance your voice tone (singer’s formant)
- Expand your technique to express your musicality
- Stabilise your amplitude range
- Ensure good vocal health
- Gain more control of psychophysiological factors that determine your performance success and artistic identity.
Vocal Warm Up Assists Your Singing Voice Development
When we sing, we rely on our anatomy and intellect to create acoustic and artistic effects.
Building a voice takes time. This is because of the physiological and psychological factors needed to make a singer worth their weight in gold. When you warm up your voice it is critical to see the process as a dual task. Vocal warm up needs to address
1) Physiological Mastery,
2) The Resilient Performer Mindset
Leave one of these two out and your performance consistency will be volatile.
The Physiological Process of Voice Development & Mastery
When you warm up your voice you are learning to valve your system more efficiently to receive better tone across the entire range. Singing a note is not just determined by whether you can squeak the pitch out. Instead you need to be able to produce musically acceptable notes at varying speeds, dynamics and harmonies bound together by impeccable phrasing.
How do we attain Musically Acceptable Notes and Phrases?
The nuts and bolts are your warm up exercises and technical drills. Here your voice learns flexibility, coordination of the airstream pressure, vibrational symmetry and optimal resonance across your range. Some suggest warm up improves the vocal folds’ viscosity thus serving your pitch range well (Motel, Fisher & Leydon, 2003). According to Moorcraft and Kenny (2012) “vibrato rates become more regular, compact and moderate following vocal warm-up ” allowing for more skillful singing and a greater capacity to create legato line. Further, tonal brilliance clarifies with increased harmonics and reduced jitter and shimmer (vibrational irregularities that reduce your voice quality).
There is a large spectrum of vocal warm up exercises if you only seek them out!
The Resilient Performer MindsetA product of vocal warm up
When we start life as young, untrained singers, we don’t have a fully developed voice. As we work on our voice, it’s important to take care of our mindset and expand it as artistry and technical skills develop to sing the repertoire of your dreams & genes.
Warming up has to become a daily regime to warm up our mindset as much as our voice.
You don’t need me to tell you how your vocal skill can feel like it makes or breaks your career development. So much about our voice type (fach) and the repertoire we sing seems determined by our capacity to produce acoustic tricks.
Stellar Performance Goals
It’s performance day. You’ve been to the bathroom 5,697 times, gargled your elixir, ate a whole pineapple and tell yourself you’re drowning in phlegm and the allergies this time of year are a nightmare. Your mind wants to pull out, your bladder’s practically dysfunctional and how will you get the top note in the finale? Warm up.
Daily drill and regular warm up create a mindset that everything works because you are moving methodically as you always do through the technical hurdles priming (or tricking) your mind each step of the way with positive self talk. This daily act of convincing yourself to solve technical challenges you set for yourself makes you resilient on stage. The variability of how your voice feels daily is a given. If you don’t warm up regularly, it’s easy to forget this, making unexpected events in auditions or performance unmanageable. Every day, we learn to sing with the voice and mindset the day gave us. No day is the same, but the process is.
If you put a good warm up in place, have healthy vocal hygiene and use some mindset work, you will represent and advocate for your voice like an elite performer. You will then manage your voice to use it more consistently in spite of stage fright, because in any critical moment while performing your mindset has been primed as much as your muscles and you can problem solve.
Studies show that I’m not the only singer who finds warm up a psychological process as much as a physiological process with many reporting an increase in mental focus and confidence after warm up (Gish, Kunduk, Sims, & McWhorter, 2012).
Vocal warm up is as much for psychological resilience as vocal prowess.
Do it daily & viva la voce!
Act fast if you notice voice changes
Amir, O., Amir, N., & Michaeli, O. (2005). “Evaluating the Influence of Warm up on Singing Voice Quality Using Acoustic Measures.” The Journal of Voice 19 (2). 252-260. Read here.
Gish, A., Kunduk, M., Sims, L., & McWhorter, A. (2012). “Vocal Warm-Up Practices and Perceptions in Vocalists: A Pilot Study.” The Journal of Voice 26 (1), 1-10. Read here.
McHenry, M., Evans, J., & Powitzy, E. (2016). “Effects of Bel Canto Training on Acoustic and Aerodynamic Characteristics of the Singing Voice.” The Journal of Voice 20 (2), 198-204. Read here.
Moorcroft, L., & Kenny, D. (2012). “Vocal Warm-Up Produces Acoustic Change in Singer’s Vibrato Rate.” The Journal of Voice 26 (5), 667.e13-667.18. Read here.
Motel, T., Fisher, K., & Leydon, C. (2003). “Vocal Warm-Up Increases Phonation Threshold Pressure in Soprano Singers at High Pitch.” The Journal of Voice 17 (2), 160-167. Read here.
All I want for Christmas is a... healthy Singing Voice
I wish I knew as a Young Singer
This blog post is the culmination of a week long cross continental performer voice collaboration between Speech Pathologist Singing Voice Specialists, Kristie Knickerbocker & Sarah Lobegeiger de Rodriguez
How to use your voice to have more impact
We are supreme voice geeks. So is it a surprise that we totally nerd off on voice research?
We can’t wait to share 6 Huge Research Findings About Voice Branding & Charisma at the end of this blog!
So stay with us while we create some ambience! Put those feet up, or pour a cup of tea and enjoy the read.
Lately a hot topic in our clinic is vocal branding. We partner alongside large companies in Australia to modify the voice identity of their brand to target critical outcomes.